Registry Editor: What is it and How to Open in Windows (4 ways)?

What is Registry Editor and How to Open Registry Editor in Windows
What is Registry Editor and How to Open Registry Editor in Windows

­­What is a Registry in Windows?

Registry Editor is a tool to modify registry keys and registry values in windows operating system. But, before going on registry editor, it is important to understand about what is a registry. In simple words, Registry is a collection of databases of configuration settings for windows operating systems (xp, 7, vista, 8, 8.1, 10, 11 etc). The Windows Registry stores much of the information and settings for software programs, hardware devices, user preferences, and operating-system configurations. The registry is the most important part of a Windows operating system.

For example, when a new program is installed, there are many information is going to be stored in registry (in specific location for the program). Like location of installed program and files, program behaviour, file references, program instructions etc. Set of these types of information is known as registry.

Note: Some of the programs store their configuration data in .xml files or in executable files (.exe) or any other type of file rather than registry. So it is not mandatory to store these details in the registry.

  • Registry definition according to The Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition:
    • Registry is a central hierarchical database used in Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 used to store information that is necessary to configure the system for one or more users, applications, and hardware devices.

What is a Registry Editor?

In windows operating system, the registry editor is a graphical tool to view and to modify registry related data like keys, subkeys, values etc. Windows registry Editor can be used to access and configure registry entries. Registry editor is a free registry editing program which is installed/included by default in every version of windows.

Registry Editor is Used to:

  • Create, delete, manipulate, rename registry keys, registry subkeys, registry values and registry value data
  • Import and export registry entries or registry files
  • Bookmark registry entries as favorites
  • Find particular strings in value names, value data, key data
  • Delete or make changes in corrupt registry keys and subkeys

Types of a Registry

  • HKCR (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT)
    • Contains data about file name extension associations (file formats or file types) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE). OLE is used for sharing information between multiple programs/applications in windows.
  • HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER)
    • Contains currently logged in user’s data and user’s configuration/setting (like software specific data).
  • HKLM (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE)
    • This key is used to store the data about system configuration and configuration of installed softwares in windows.
  • HKU (HKEY_USERS)
    • Contains data for the user who is currently logged in (you) and data for the every users who were logged in but now they are switched users.
  • HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG (HKCC)
    • This key is used to store (not directly) the configuration data for the current hardware profile. It does not store any information itself. This key acts as a pointer. Like it just stores a pointer to the content of the Current subkey of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Hardware Profiles
  • HKDD (HKEY_DYN_DATA)
    • This registry hive was used in windows 95/98 only. It is removed in windows 2000. This was used to store the data about “Plug-and-Play” information of the hardware. This key contains system data loaded into memory like:
      • Current configuration hardware tree
      • Network connection performance indicators
      • Plug and play device status

How to Open/Access Registry Editor?

  • Open Registry Editor Using Start Menu
    • Press Windows Logo Button. Type regedit or regedit.exe.  You will find an application named  regedit.exe. Hit the enter to open registry editor.
      • Open Registry Editor Using Start Menu
  • Open Registry Editor Using RUN Box
    • Open Windows Start Menu by pressing a Windows Logo Button and type run. You will find an application named Run on top of the applications list. Click on Run. You can also open Run box by pressing Windows Logo Button and R simultaneously. Now, type regedit and hit the enter.
      • Open Registry Editor Using RUN Box
  • Open Registry Editor Using Command Prompt
    • Press Windows Logo Button and type cmd. Click on the application named cmd.exe or hit the enter.
      • Open Registry Editor Using Command Prompt 1
    • Now, type regedit and hit the enter.
      • Open Registry Editor Using Command Prompt 2
  • Open Registry Editor Using Task Manager
    • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc from keyboard simultaneously to open Task Manager. Click on File Menu and select New Task (Run…). It will open Create New Task dialog box. Now, type regedit and hit the enter open registry editor.
      • Open Registry Editor Using Task Manager

Note: When you try to open registry editor, you may get an UAC prompt. UAC stands for User Account Control. UAC ensures that modifications you are trying to do are not scripted by any malware, virus or any other type of threats. But windows doesn’t ask for permission in every machine because it depends on a windows version and it’s configuration.

Some of the registry keys won’t allow you to make changes by default. This is generally because you don’t have permission to those keys, but you can tweak the permissions scheme if you want by right-clicking a key and choosing Permissions, and then adjusting them from there.

Here, we are trying to open a registry editor and it’s not a game of child. It can be hazardous if modifications made in registry editor gone wrong. For example, If you try to modify a registry (of any software/program) in the wrong way then functions related to that registry modification may stop working (could be inoperative) and in bad situation the whole software may crash. Same thing applies to system. If system related registry modification gone wrong then a whole system may crash. So before working with registry editor, it is strongly recommended to have a backup of registries or a fresh system restore point or both of them.

Now, you know very well about registry editor and ways to open registry editor in windows 7/8/10/11. If this post helped you then please share it with your friends and family to know about it. If you have any questions then feel free to ask in comment section. We will try our best to help you. Have a great time.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

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