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Registry Editing Tips

Foreword

As we have introduced in our previous page, the Registry cannot be viewed or edited with a normal editor - you may only use the Registry Editor. This program isn't listed on your Start Menu and it is well hidden in your Windows directory. To run this program, just click on Start, Run, and type regedit (for Win 9x) or regedit32 (for Win NT) in the input field. Press Enter.

As we have introduced the keys and strings in our previous page, now we will focus on editing the Registry using the Registry Editor. We realized that the help file included together with the Registry Editor isn't very helpful. If you were to print it out, it will consume only about 2 and a half page. We will try our best to fill in what that is not mentioned in the help file.

Editing With The Registry Editor

First, a slight tutorial. The Registry editor is divided into 2 panes. The left pane is a tree structure of keys while the right pane shows the string values the selected branch contains (you will learn more on strings and their values later on). When you right-click on a key, the menu as shown above will appear.

Expand : Expand the branch
New      : Create a new key or string value
Find       : Find a selected key or string value
Delete   : Delete the entire highlighted item
Rename: Rename the highlighted item
Copy Key Name : (only available in OSR2 versions and above) Copy out the key name (with current keyname location).

Always use the Registry Editor with care. There are 3 very dangerous things about the Registry Editor.

  1. What's done is done. There isn't any Undo option available. In case you accidentally deleted a key, it's gone for good.
  2. When you edit the Registry, all changes will be saved instantly, you don't have the option to "reload" the registry in case you have done something wrong.
  3. You never know when you have done something wrong. There will be no warning pop-out dialogue boxes telling stating you have deleted a vital key. The Registry Editor will let you wipe clean everything without giving you a warning.

Third-Party Registry Editors

Although the Windows Registry Editor seems good enough, if you have any third party registry editors like the one included in Norton Utilities, use it! It can make no difference if you are an expert but if you are a beginner, the editors actually offers you more information and better understanding towards the Registry. And these editors actually offer you an Undo option (hurray!).


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