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Accessing the windows registry

How do I open and edit the Windows registry?

Fixing Windows errors, tweaking Windows features, or completely removing a program can sometimes require you to edit the Windows registry. This page provides help on how to open and view the Windows registry, edit, and delete registry values.

Before editing or changing anything in the Microsoft Windows registry, we recommend you back up the registry. For help with backing up the registry, see: How to back up and restore the Windows registry.

How to open the Windows registry

To open the Windows registry, follow the steps below for your version of Windows.

If you have restricted access to the Windows computer you’re logged in to, you may not be able to access the Windows registry.

Windows 10

  1. Type regedit in the Windows search box on the taskbar and press Enter .
  2. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes to open the Registry Editor.
  3. The Windows Registry Editor window should open and look similar to the example shown below.

Windows 8

  1. Type regedit on the Start screen and select the regedit option in the search results.
  2. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes to open the Registry Editor.
  3. The Windows Registry Editor window should open and look similar to the example shown below.

Windows 7 and earlier

  1. Click Start or press the Windows key .
  2. In the Start menu, either in the Run box or the Search box, type regedit and press Enter . In Windows 8, you can type regedit on the Start screen and select the regedit option in the search results. In Windows 10, type regedit in the Search box on the taskbar and press Enter .
  3. If prompted by User Account Control, click Yes to open the Registry Editor.
  4. The Windows Registry Editor window should open and look similar to the example shown below.

How to browse the Windows registry

When most users need to edit their registry, they’re given the location or path of where the registry value is located and what to change. Below is an example path for a commonly accessed registry subkey. To browse to this location, you first start by opening the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key (folder). In this key, you see the SOFTWARE folder, then Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, and finally the Run folder.

Each backslash («\») in a registry path represents another folder in the registry, with the name of that folder following the backslash.

After navigating to the registry path above, you’ll see a window similar to the example below. In this example, you can see four different string value keys, which are pointing to the programs that run each time the computer is turned on or restarted.

How to edit a Windows registry value

To edit a registry value, double-click the name of the value you want to edit. For example, if we double-clicked the ‘IntelliPoint’ value in the example above, a new window appears that would allow us to change the value of the data. In this case, we could change the file path of where the «ipoint.exe» file is located for the IntelliPoint driver.

How to delete a Windows registry value

To delete a registry value, highlight any registry Name and then press the Del on the keyboard. For example, if we did not want the IntelliPoint program to load each time Windows starts, we could highlight IntelliPoint and then press the Del .

Windows registry shorthand and abbreviations

In some documentation and online forums, the registry values may be abbreviated. For example, instead of saying «HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,» it is easier to say and write «HKLM.» For a listing of registry terms and shorthand, see our registry definition.

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Accessing Registry Entry Values Under the Class Registry Key

In Windows Vista and later versions of Windows, the unified device property model includes device setup class properties that do not have corresponding SPCRP_Xxx identifiers. These properties characterize a device setup class. The unified device property model uses property keys to represent these properties.

Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 also support most of these device setup class properties. However, these earlier versions of Windows do not support the property keys of the unified device property model. Instead, these versions of Windows represent these properties by using corresponding system-defined registry entry values under the class registry key. To maintain compatibility with these earlier versions of Windows, Windows Vista and later versions also support these system-defined registry entry values. However, you should use the property keys to access these properties on Windows Vista and later versions.

For a list of the system-defined device setup class properties, see Device Setup Class Properties That Do Not Have Corresponding SPCRP_Xxx Identifiers. The device setup class properties are listed by the property key identifiers that you use to access the properties in Windows Vista and later versions. The information that is provided with the property keys also includes the corresponding registry entry values that you can use to access the properties on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

For information about how to use property keys to access device setup class properties in Windows Vista and later versions, see Accessing Device Class Properties (Windows Vista and Later).

To access these properties on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000, open the class registry key and use the Windows registry functions to access the registry entry values that correspond to these properties.

To retrieve a handle to the class registry key for a device setup class, call the SetupDiOpenClassRegKeyEx function and supply the following parameter values:

Set ClassGuid to a pointer to the GUID that identifies the device setup class of the requested class registry key.

Set samDesired to a REGSAM-typed value that specifies the required access permission.

Set Flags to DIOCR_INSTALLER.

Set MachineName to a pointer to a NULL-terminated string that contains the name of the computer on which to open the requested class registry key. If the computer is the local computer, set MachineName to NULL.

Set Reserved to NULL.

If this call to SetupDiOpenClassRegKeyEx succeeds, SetupDiOpenClassRegKeyEx returns the requested handle. If the function call fails, SetupDiOpenClassRegKeyEx returns INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE and a call to GetLastError will return the logged error code.

After you retrieve a handle to the class registry key, supply the handle in a call to RegQueryValueEx and RegSetValueEx to retrieve or set the registry entry value that corresponds to the device setup class property.

Call the RegCloseKey function to close the class registry key after access to the key is no longer required.

Registry Key Security and Access Rights

The Windows security model enables you to control access to registry keys. For more information about security, see Access-Control Model.

You can specify a security descriptor for a registry key when you call the RegCreateKeyEx or RegSetKeySecurity function. If you specify NULL, the key gets a default security descriptor. The ACLs in a default security descriptor for a key are inherited from its direct parent key.

The valid access rights for registry keys include the DELETE, READ_CONTROL, WRITE_DAC, and WRITE_OWNER standard access rights. Registry keys do not support the SYNCHRONIZE standard access right.

The following table lists the specific access rights for registry key objects.

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Value Meaning
KEY_ALL_ACCESS (0xF003F) Combines the STANDARD_RIGHTS_REQUIRED, KEY_QUERY_VALUE, KEY_SET_VALUE, KEY_CREATE_SUB_KEY, KEY_ENUMERATE_SUB_KEYS, KEY_NOTIFY, and KEY_CREATE_LINK access rights.
KEY_CREATE_LINK (0x0020) Reserved for system use.
KEY_CREATE_SUB_KEY (0x0004) Required to create a subkey of a registry key.
KEY_ENUMERATE_SUB_KEYS (0x0008) Required to enumerate the subkeys of a registry key.
KEY_EXECUTE (0x20019) Equivalent to KEY_READ.
KEY_NOTIFY (0x0010) Required to request change notifications for a registry key or for subkeys of a registry key.
KEY_QUERY_VALUE (0x0001) Required to query the values of a registry key.
KEY_READ (0x20019) Combines the STANDARD_RIGHTS_READ, KEY_QUERY_VALUE, KEY_ENUMERATE_SUB_KEYS, and KEY_NOTIFY values.
KEY_SET_VALUE (0x0002) Required to create, delete, or set a registry value.
KEY_WOW64_32KEY (0x0200) Indicates that an application on 64-bit Windows should operate on the 32-bit registry view. This flag is ignored by 32-bit Windows. For more information, see Accessing an Alternate Registry View.
This flag must be combined using the OR operator with the other flags in this table that either query or access registry values.
Windows 2000: This flag is not supported.
KEY_WOW64_64KEY (0x0100) Indicates that an application on 64-bit Windows should operate on the 64-bit registry view. This flag is ignored by 32-bit Windows. For more information, see Accessing an Alternate Registry View.
This flag must be combined using the OR operator with the other flags in this table that either query or access registry values.
Windows 2000: This flag is not supported.
KEY_WRITE (0x20006) Combines the STANDARD_RIGHTS_WRITE, KEY_SET_VALUE, and KEY_CREATE_SUB_KEY access rights.

When you call the RegOpenKeyEx function, the system checks the requested access rights against the key’s security descriptor. If the user does not have the correct access to the registry key, the open operation fails. If an administrator needs access to the key, the solution is to enable the SE_TAKE_OWNERSHIP_NAME privilege and open the registry key with WRITE_OWNER access. For more information, see Enabling and Disabling Privileges.

You can request the ACCESS_SYSTEM_SECURITY access right to a registry key if you want to read or write the key’s system access control list (SACL). For more information, see Access-Control Lists (ACLs) and SACL Access Right.

To view the current access rights for a key, including the predefined keys, use the Registry Editor (Regedt32.exe). After navigating to the desired key, go to the Edit menu and select Permissions.

Error Accessing the Registry [Fixed by experts]

  • The first thing you should do when dealing with the Registry Editor issues is to run the SFC scan.
  • In case your Registry Editor somehow got disabled, you’ll have to use the Group Policy Editor to enable it.
  • There are not so many problems with the registry but if you have some, go straight to our Windows Registry section for help.
  • If you run into a Windows 10 error, the best thing to do and read our articles from the Windows 10 Errors Hub.

  1. Download Restoro PC Repair Tool that comes with Patented Technologies (patent available here).
  2. Click Start Scan to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click Repair All to fix issues affecting your computer’s security and performance
  • Restoro has been downloaded by 0 readers this month.

Registry Editor is one of the most important parts of the Windows operating system.

This tool is usually used for resolving various problems and faults within the system, but what if the Regedit itself is the problem.

Although this is a rare case, there’s a chance that you may encounter some problems with this tool.

More precisely, we’re talking about the problem which prevents users from opening the Registry Editor.

Having the Registry Editor out of the function is something that can be very dangerous because you’re not able to control what happens within your system.

So, if you’re unable to open the regedit, keep reading this article, because we’ve prepared a couple of solutions that may come in handy.

What can I do to open Regedit in Windows 10?

1. Run SFC scan

Although there’s no more universal and cliche solution for dealing with Windows 10 problems, and you’re probably tired of people recommending the SFC scan, it’s actually helpful in this case.

So, the first thing you should do when dealing with the Registry Editor issues is to run the SFC scan.

In case you’re not sure how to do that, follow these instructions:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Power User Menu. Select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, type sfc /scannow and press Enter.
  3. Wait until the scan is completed.
  4. Restart your computer

If everything is okay with the Regedit now, you’re good to go. On the other hand, if the problem is still there, you should move to move advanced solutions.

2. Use Group Policy Editor

In case your Registry Editor somehow got disabled, here’s a way to enable it again. You’ll have to use the Group Policy Editor.

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

But have in mind, the Group Policy Editor is only available in the Professional, Ultimate, and Pro versions of Windows. So, if you’re using Windows 10 Home, you won’t be able to perform this workaround.

Anyway, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Search, type gpedit.msc, and open Group Policy Editor
  2. Navigate to User Configuration >Administrative Templates >System
  3. Find Prevent access to registry editing tools, and open it
  4. If it’s set to Enabled, go and change it to Disabled or Not configured
  5. Restart your computer

3. Enable Regedit manually

Another way to deal with registry problems is to, ironically, apply a registry tweak. There are some of you that probably don’t know that you can run registry tweaks without opening the registry editor.

And in this case, it might be just what we’re looking for. Here’s exactly what you need to do:

  1. Open Run (Win key + R)
  2. Enter the following command:
    • REG add HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesSystem /v DisableRegistryTools /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  3. Hit Enter

Now try to open the Regedit once again, and we hope you’ll be successful this time.

4. Reset your system

Nothing says I surrender! more than clean-installing your system. But, if none of the previous solutions managed to solve the problem, you’ll have to go with this measure.

After you reset your system, you’ll end up with a fresh copy, and therefore all your Regedit problems (and other problems) will be resolved.

Here’s how to reset your Windows 10 system:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Open Update & Security.
  4. Choose Recovery.
  5. Click Get Started under the Reset this PC.
  6. Choose Keep my files.
  7. After the procedure is finished, your Registry Editor should work like before.

If the problem is still persistent, you can also consider reinstalling the system. Even though the factory reset should be enough, you can always start from a complete scratch and reinstall the system.

The procedure is simple and it can be done with the Media Creation Tool. You can find out how to do so by following the steps in this article.

That’s about it, we hope at least one of these workarounds proved helpful in resolving the Registry Editor issues in Windows 10.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please let us know in the comments below.

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