How to Manually Edit the Windows Registry

The Windows registry is one of the important components of a personal computer. It is essentially a centralized database that contains all the settings and options on your computer system.

All of these items are stored in the form of keys, subkeys and their associated values. Changes are made to this area every time you install a new piece of software, add on a hardware device, or even perform a simple task such as adjusting the color of your display.

The larger the registry grows, the greater the probability of experiencing performance issues. Although third-party registry cleaning products are incredibly efficient, these programs may not have the power to effectively clear up all the clutter and corruption. The good thing is that there is a tool that allows you to manually repair the registry and get rid of all the obsolete entries threatening the performance of your computer. That tool is known as regedit.

Accessing and Backing up the Registry with Regedit

Registry Editor or simply regedit, is a built-in Windows utility designed to provide access to the registry. Any computer expert will tell you that efficient use of this tool is the most effective way to address problems in the registry.

  1.  To access the Windows Registry Editor, open the “Start” menu and click “Run.”
  2.  Type “regedit” into the command field and click “Enter.”

If you plan to perform edits on a regular basis, it is probably wise to make yourself familiar with interface of the Registry Editor. Its presentation is sectioned off into two separate windows panes. On the left you will find a tree organized in hierarchical fashion and on the right you will see individual values. However, before you perform any edits, it is important to backup the existing registry in its entirety. This will allow the undoing of any mistakes or changes that negatively affect your system. To perform a backup, follow the steps below:

  1.  From within the registry, click “File” and choose “Export” from the menu.
  2.  Next, select “All” from the “Export range” window.
  3.  Select a destination for the backup file and then give it a name.
  4.  Lastly, click on the “Save” tab.

Deleting Keys from the Registry

Once inside, you can search for old applications and delete any program listings of applications that have already been removed from the system. To begin your search, follow the steps below:

  1.  Expand the ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER” key. This can be done by clicking the (+) sign beside it.
  2.  Next, expand the “Software” key.
  3.  From here you want to search for keys that are either represented by the name of the program, or the name of the company that distributes the software.
  4.  Once you find the application, highlight its key, and then click “Del” to remove it.

When removing application listings, you have more options for locating the desired program. You can search for it by name, executable file or folder name. To perform these actions, follow the steps below:

  1.  Simultaneously press “Ctrl” and “f’ to open the search window.
  2.  Enter the desired text to find the listing for the application and click “OK” to initiate the search.
  3.  If the results are successful, the returned key or value will be highlight.
  4.  Click “Del” to remove the appropriate listing.
  5.  Press the “F3” key to find the next listing and repeat the above steps.

Remove Startup Items from the Registry

Many software applications on your computer install values in the registry every time Windows starts up. Over time, this can weigh heavily on your computer. To delete these values, follow the steps below:

  1.  Refer to the instructions above to access the “My Computer\ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows\ Current Version” folder.
  2.  Next, highlight the “Run” key.
  3.  Search through the values in the left pane and highlight the one you want to remove. If you are not sure what you’re looking for, perform an online search for the text to find out what value it represents.
  4.  Once you determine the right value, click “Del.” If you want to delete multiple entries, simply hold down “Shift” while navigating through your selections.

After you are done making adjustments, exit the registry.

A Warning About the Registry Editor

Before proceeding, you should be warned that the improper use of regedit could result in major problems that require you to reinstall Windows entirely. If you are not someone who firmly believes in backing up data, you could end up losing everything on your computer. Although we have provided comprehensive instructions in this guide, we advise that you utilize the Registry Editor tool at your own risk.

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