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Tour the Registry Editor

We often tell you about using Regedit to change settings in the Windows Registry. Since playing in the registry should be done with extreme caution, we tell you exactly where to go and what changes you can make. But what do all those keys and values mean?

Well, today I’m going to give a you a closer look at the Registry Editor and what the different areas are.

The different folders in the left window represent keys in the registry.


This helps XP launch the right application when you open a file.

This is the configuration info for the user who is currently logged in. Your folders, screen colors, and Control Panel settings are all there. This is your User Profile.


Here you’ll find configuration info for the computer.


This is the root of all user profiles where all user account settings live.


This is where you’ll find the hardware profile information used by your computer at system startup.

A key can contain sub-keys.

When you click a key or sub-key, the value entries in the key are displayed in the right hand window.

Double click the entry to edit.

You can search the registry for a key or value by hitting Ctrl+F and typing in a word. Use F3 to continue the search.

Go to File/Print (or Ctrl+P) to print out the whole registry or just a specified branch.

And, of course, any time you plan to “tweak the registry” be sure to back it up first…

This is just an overview of the main features of the Registry Editor. It is a mysterious place that should be entered with caution. Don’t go in there and start changing values or creating keys without guidance or you could run into problems.

~ David