Using the Registry Editor in Windows 7




The method of altering your registry is through the Registry Editor application in Windows. Registry Editor has been around for some time now, though very likely you havenít ever used it. Modifying your registry is some pretty serious business; if you are not comfortable with doing it, or assessing the potential risks, donít do it. The Windows 7 Registry Editor is exactly the same as the version shipped with Windows XP, as shown in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1: The Windows 7 Registry Editor is a familiar sight to Windows users.



You can easily access the Registry Editor by typing regedit in the Start Menuís Search box. The User Account Control asks you to authorize access by clicking Continue. The Registry Editor appears with an expanded menu of the five registry key sections:

1) HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT
2) HKEY_CURRENT_USER
3) HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
4) HKEY_USERS
5) HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG


The HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT section stores information about registered applications. The HKEY_CURRENT_USER section stores information explicitly about the user currently logged on to the computer. The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section stores system settings and preferences. The HKEY_USERS section stores information about all users on the computer; after the user logs in, the HKEY_CURRENT_USER section takes over. The HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG section stores runtime information; this information is generated when a computer boots and is not permanently stored.

You can expand one of the sections and drill down to the desired registry key. After you find the specific registry key to alter, you can both double-click the key name or right-click the key name and select Modify. An Edit String window appears that allows you to modify the existing string value.

When you finish, click OK. Your changes are immediately recording into the registry and appear in the Registry Editor as shown in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2: Editing registry key values is simple.



Advanced users may find that they need to actually add to the registry instead of simply altering it. Once again, if you have the feeling that you shouldnít be performing this sort of procedure, you are probably right. If you need to add a key or string value to the registry, first go to its location in the Registry Editor. On the right side of the Registry Editor, right-click on an open area and select New and then select either a New Key or one of the values.

If you are creating a new registry key, it will appear in the hierarchical menu on the left side of the Registry Editor. It is called New Key #1 by default; you can either alter its default string value as detailed in an earlier paragraph or you can create a new string value as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Windows allows you to create one of six kinds of values:

1) String value: A text string with a fixed-length
2) Binary value: A string with raw binary data
3) DWORD (32-bit) value: A string with a number containing 4 bytes; it must be 32-bit
4) Qword (64-bit) value: A string with a 64-bit integer as a number
5) Multi-string value: A multiple string; often used with lists or multiple form values
6) Expandable string value: A data string with a variable length

You can also perform command-line registry operations. To do this, simply type reg at a command prompt. For information on performing specific actions, type reg /? at the command prompt and you can read the online help as shown in Figure 3.

FIGURE 3: You can access registry online help from the command line.