Windows registry: learn how to use it and discover the best tricks

Windows has many more components beyond the desktop, windows, and applications. Some of these elements are necessary so that the operating system itself can function (for example, DLL libraries), and others are necessary to save all the advanced configuration of the operating system. And one of these elements, which we have surely heard of sometime, is the Windows registry.

What is the Windows registry, or Regedit

The Windows registry is a database where the operating system itself, and many applications, store all kinds of settings. All operating system features, both enabled and disabled, are stored here.

Within this registry we can find all kinds of values ​​and configurations that allow us to modify even the most unthinkable element of the operating system. Of course, although its structure is divided into a directory tree, it is not an intuitive tool at all. Rather the complete opposite.

The Windows registry was introduced in Windows 3.11, and to this day, it is an essential part of the system.

What form the record

For this reason, this record can be considered as “a configuration database”. And without it, neither the operating system nor the programs could function. Windows has its own entries in this database, just like the programs we install. In addition, each user also has reserved spaces to preserve their settings.

The configuration of the Windows registry, and therefore that of the entire operating system, is stored in the «Config» directory , within the «System32» directory of the main «Windows» folder. And the personal configuration of each user is stored in the file « NTUSER.dat » that is inside your personal folder.

The registry consists of two elements. The first of them are the “keys”, or what is the same, each one of the “folders” where the values ​​are stored. And the second element is these “values”, who finish shaping the configuration. These values ​​can have numbers, text, or other data.

Keys and values ​​are grouped within what is known as a “hive”, and we will recognize them because they are the main ones:


What can we do in it

The main reason we often access the Windows registry is to make configuration changes that are not otherwise available. There are operating system functions and features that do not have a switch as such (because they are not interesting, because they are experimental or for other reasons), and to access them, it is necessary to change their settings directly from the registry.

In any case, except for specific changes, we will not have to do anything with the registry. Windows and the programs are in charge of changing the values ​​according to our configurations. When you turn off the PC, these changes are saved, and when you turn it back on, they are loaded again and applied.

In any case, if we have to make a specific change in the Windows registry, then we must resort to a tool called “regedit”.

How to edit the registry

To edit the Windows registry you need to use a tool called “regedit”. This program will be the one that will allow us to access all the tickets and modify them according to our needs. To do this, all we have to do is open the Windows 10 search engine and type “regedit” in it, followed by an enter. We can also run it from the “Run” menu that appears when you press the ” Windows + R ” keyboard shortcut .

Within the main regedit window we will be able to see a search engine, which will allow us to move to the key we want quickly, the key tree and the list of values ​​within each key.

To modify an existing value, we simply have to move to its registry key (For example, Computer> HKEY_CURRENT_USER> Software), and locate the value on the right side. We double click on it and we can modify the value information. Of course, we must be careful to introduce a value of the same type as the original (a hexadecimal value is not the same as a DWORD value.

When we have made the changes we want, we accept the windows, close regedit and restart Windows so that the new changes are applied.

Create new registry key or value

Sometimes the value we want to modify does not exist. And therefore, we will have to create it manually. To do this, we must go to the registry key where the value we want to modify should be and we will click with the right mouse button on an empty space. We will select the “New” option to create a new value. We must choose the type of value that corresponds to what we need.

In case what does not exist is the key, we can also create a new key that hangs from the current one in the same way (right button> New> Key). It is recommended to restart once we finish modifying the registry so that the changes are applied without problems.

Remove a value

It can also happen that what we have to do is delete a value from the registry. To do this, what we must do is select it, right-click on it and choose the “Delete” option . The value will disappear, although we may have to reboot for the changes to take effect.

Sometimes, instead of removing the value, simply change its value to “0” or “false”, depending on the type. In this way, the value will be «deactivated», but it will still be there so that we can reactivate it by changing its value to «1» when we need it. Renaming the key (for example, to a .bak) can server to disable a value without deleting it.

It is recommended to delete entries as small as possible. Deleting a key will delete all other inherited keys and their values. And the bigger the key, the more problems we will have in the long run.

Security Recommendations

Generally there is usually fear when editing the Windows registry. However, we don’t have to have it. As long as we know what we are doing and avoid changing values ​​to the logo. We should never change heats randomly.

It is also possible to run scripts that allow us to modify values ​​in the registry. We should only run these scripts when they are fully trusted. And always reviewing the changes you make. A malicious script could lower our security or make the PC unusable.

If the registry gets corrupted, Windows won’t even be able to boot. Therefore, it is always important to back up the registry, the entries that we change, and keep track of the changes. So if something goes wrong, we can always go back.

Back up the Windows registry

The backup of the Windows registry are very important because, thanks to them, we will be able to restore your PC if something goes wrong. These backups must be done manually. To do this, we just have to right-click on the value or key that we want to save and choose the “Export” option .

This configuration will be saved in a file with a .REG extension. We can make a backup copy of a specific value, a key (with all its inherited values) and even the hives or the entire registry. And the process for all of this is always the same.

Restore a backup

Registry backups usually have a .REG extension. Inside this file will be all the instructions to leave the registry, the value, or the key, as it was at the time of its creation. To restore this copy, just double click on this REG file to restore it.

Windows registry backups should be as small and specific as possible. A very large copy, at the time of restoring it, could give problems with other keys or with other values. The more specific the key (a specific value, a key, etc.), the better. Although, if we want, we can make a complete copy of the registry, or of a hive. Although it is not ideal.

Registry backups are typically a few bytes long. The complete Windows registry can occupy about 400 MB, depending on the programs that we have installed.

It is important that the larger the copy of the Windows registry, the more personal it is. And it may even have personal information and license keys. Therefore, it is recommended not to share very large backups with other people.

Is it advisable to defragment the registry?

Many websites, and many programs, often tell us about a technique to improve computer performance: defragmenting the registry. As with programs, as time goes by, the registry becomes “fragmented” on the hard disk. And that can make it take longer to access certain sections of it in the long run.

However, in practice, there is no difference. Not for the better, not for the worse. The registry is a very small file and it is also not something that is being accessed all the time. Therefore, doing this practice is totally unnecessary. And much less if we have an SSD in the computer, since the access times are instantaneous, and the fragmentation does not exist in them.

REG files: automate changes to regedit

The Windows registry is saved in its own database format so that only Windows, regedit, and programs can access it. However, there is a type of file specially designed to interact directly with the registry: REG files.

A REG file is a text file (we can open it with Notepad if we want) within which a series of changes and modifications are defined in the Windows registry. When executed (with double click, and with administrator permission) the changes are applied according to its definitions.

Windows registry backups have the REG extension so they can be restored with a double click. And in addition, it is also possible to create our own scripts to automate the creation and modification of registry values.

A “.REG” file must begin with ” Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 “, have in square brackets [] the path to the registry key that is going to be modified, and below it, between quotation marks “”, each of the values, an equal, and its defined value, also enclosed in quotes.

As long as it is organized, the same REG file can have changes for several keys and values.

Better tricks, or registry changes, to improve Windows

We can make a lot of changes to the registry. And it is impossible to collect them all since they are practically infinite. Windows, and programs, hide a large number of functions, settings and secret tricks that must be unlocked through this Windows registry.

We are going to see some of the most relevant and useful for Windows 10 users. And so, incidentally, we can practice getting familiar with the Windows registry. All these “hacks” are safe and reversible, although we recommend, as always, working with backup copies and not modifying values ​​or keys at random.

We are not going to indicate step by step how to get to the key and edit the value. This has been explained in the previous points. We will simply indicate the changes that need to be made. And, of course, after doing them we will have to restart the PC.

Open programs from the context menu

This Windows hack is present from Vista. And to this day, with Windows 10, it is still fully functional. To make it work, what we must do is go to the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT> Directory> Background> shell

Once there, we will create a new key, inside «shell», with the name of the program we want to launch. For example, “Notepad” or “Chrome.” And within this key, we will create another key called “command”.

The “command” key will have a “Default” value created by default. We must edit this value by double clicking on it and change its value information for the directory, in quotes, up to the program’s .exe.

Delete the folder «3D Objects» and others from «This computer»

The “3D Objects” folder is one of the most useless that we can find in Windows 10. And although Microsoft does not offer an option to hide it, we can do it easily by means of a simple change in the registry.

We must go to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE> SOFTWARE> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Explorer> MyComputer> NameSpace

And in it we will locate another key called «{0DB7E03F-FC29-4DC6-9020-FF41B59E513A}». What we must do is delete this entire key to hide the folder in the explorer.

If we have a 64-bit system, what we must also do is go to the following Windows registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE> SOFTWARE> Wow6432Node> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Explorer> MyComputer> NameSpace

And delete the key “{0DB7E03F-FC29-4DC6-9020-FF41B59E513A}” from there.

Show seconds on taskbar clock

The Windows clock usually appears at the bottom right of the desktop. And next to it, the date also usually appears. By default, the Windows 10 clock only shows the hour and minute. However, if we want, we can also enable the seconds.

To do this, we will enter regedit and navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER> Software> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Explorer> Advanced

Here we will create a new 32-bit DWORD value called “ShowSecondsInSystemClock”. And we will assign the value “1” to make it active. After restarting, we can see the seconds on the clock.

Hide OneDrive in File Explorer

To hide this icon in Windows file explorer, what we must do is scroll to the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT> CLSID> {018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6}

Once in it, we will double click on “System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree”, and we will change its value to “0” (zero).

We must also go (if we use a 64-bit system) to the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT> Wow6432Node> CLSID> {018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6}

And change the value “System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree” to “0”.

Remove Bing from Windows Finder

Bing is Microsoft’s search engine that is integrated into Windows 10 programs. If we do not want to use this search engine, for example, from the Windows search engine, we can remove it with a simple change in the Windows registry.

What we must do is open regedit and go to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER> SOFTWARE> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Search

Once there, we will create a new 32-bit DWORD value called “BingSearchEnabled”, and we will give it the value “0”. We must also look for the value “CortanaConsent”, and make sure that its value is also zero, just like the previous one.

Deactivate the «Shake to minimize» function

If we click on a window and “shake” it, by default Windows minimizes all other windows, leaving only the one we have selected visible. This can be practical in some situations, but very annoying in others. Luckily, it can be disabled relatively easily.

To do this, we must go to the Windows registry editor and scroll to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER> SOFTWARE> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Explorer> Advanced

Here we must create a new 32-bit DWORD value called “DisallowShaking”, and we will change its value from “0” to “1”.

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