How to Use the Windows Registry


In this article, we’ll teach you how to use the Windows Registry using the Windows graphic interface (not PowerShell!).

Yes, you read correctly. Today, we’re going to give PowerShell a rest and work with the standard Windows graphic interface. However, we’ll almost certainly return to this topic in the future to tell you how you can work with the registry using cmdlets. But for now, we’ll give you a break from all that.

Today, we’re going to pick up where we left off in our recent article, What Is The Windows Registry, in which we talked a little about its structure and principles. Today, we’ll give you some basic pointers for using it, including:

  • How to load the Registry Editor.
  • What the different sections of the RegEdit screen are.
  • How to export and import configurations.
  • How to configure your Windows background.


How to Use the Windows Registry

Loading the Registry Editor

The tool used to edit the Windows Registry is RegEdit, and it is included with Windows. With this tool, you can edit both keys and values.

But before you do any of that, you need to load the editor. There are three ways to do this:

  • Via Windows Tools.
  • Running the program from its folder location – “C:\Windows\regedit.exe”.
  • Or launching it from the taskbar.

The third option is the easiest because all you have to do is type “Regedit” and hit Enter.

Image - Running the Registry Editor from the taskbar on Windows Server 2022
Image – Running the Registry Editor from the taskbar on Windows Server 2022


The Registry Editor Window

There are four main elements on the RegEdit window, which are the following:

  • Keys: These are folders that contain different elements, such as other subkeys, configuration values, etc.
  • Subkeys: These are keys contained within other keys.
  • Values: These are entries in the registry that consist of a name and some data. A key can contain several values.
  • Address bar: This tells you where you are in the registry and can be used to jump to a specific location.
Image - The RegEdit window
Image – The RegEdit window


Backing up the Registry

The next useful thing you should know how to do is how to make a backup copy of the registry. This can then be used to undo changes to the registry or restore the system in the event that a problem occurs. Whatever it’s used for, it’s good practice to make backups.

To back up the registry, click on the File menu and click on Export.

Image - Exporting the registry
Image – Exporting the registry

A window will then appear in which you can specify the following:

  • Location where the file will be saved.
  • File name
  • Export range.

The first two don’t need much explanation, but you might be wondering what the export range is. It’s essentially the section of the registry that is going to be backed up. You can either enter the specific path or you can simply select “All” to export the whole registry.

At this point, I offer you the following tips:

  • If you want to backup a specific section of the registry, it’s much simpler to just find the key you want in the registry tree, right-click on it and then select Export.
  • Whenever you make changes, it’s good practice to make a backup of the specific location and another backup of the entire registry. From personal experience, I can tell you sometimes you might end up making extra changes, and if you haven’t made a backup first… Let’s just say it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

You probably don’t need me to remind you that you should keep your backups on an external drive or a remote device.

Image - Select the part of the registry that you want to save and choose a target path
Image – Select the part of the registry that you want to save and choose a target path

Importing a backup follows a similar process. Simply click on the File menu and click on Import. Then, select the file you want to import.

Now that you know these basic operations, you’re ready to start editing keys in the registry.


Changing the Desktop Background Using the Windows Registry

Here at Jotelulu, we believe that “learning by doing” is the most effective way of getting to grips with the Windows Registry.

So, to get you started, we’re going to show you how to change the desktop background so that all users who log on to the computer will see the same background image.

NOTE: With this change, users will no longer be able to change the desktop background. They’ll have to do this through the registry.

To change the background, you need to find the key “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop”. You can do this in one of two ways:

  • You can either browse the tree on the left-hand side of the RegEdit window.
  • Or you can just paste the path in the address bar.

The second option is obviously much quicker, as long as you already know the address of the key you want to edit.

Next, you need to search for the key “WallPaper”.

Image - Find the registry key to change the wallpaper
Image – Find the registry key to change the wallpaper

Once you’ve found the key, there are various ways of editing it. However, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to double-click on it. Then, an Edit String window will appear, where you can change the value data. In this case, the value data is the file path of the image to use as the desktop background. In the image below, you will see that this is “C:\Users\administrador\downloads\wall03.jpeg”. Once you’ve entered a new file path in the field, click on OK and the change will be saved.

Image - Editing the key and assigning a new wallpaper image
Image – Editing the key and assigning a new wallpaper image

Once this is done, you will need to restart your computer to see the change applied. When you sign in again, you’ll see your new desktop wallpaper.

Image - Check that the new desktop wallpaper has been applied
Image – Check that the new desktop wallpaper has been applied

You have now changed your desktop wallpaper!



In this article, we’ve given you a brief introduction to working with the Registry Editor. As we mentioned in a previous article, it’s one of the most important elements of Windows, and it’s definitely worth taking the time to learn more about it.

We’ve looked at the RegEdit screen and how to export and import backups. We’ve also started making changes to registry keys. But don’t worry, we’ll be back with more tips to get the most out of the Window Registry Editor.

If you have any questions or problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can lend you a hand.

Thanks for reading!

Category:Cloud and Systems

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