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How to Edit the System Registry on a Computer

Use this guide to customize Windows in any number of ways, from removing programs to renaming icons.


  • : Proceed with caution: Editing the registry can permanently damage your computer.
  • Step 1: Create a restore point Create a Windows restore point in case you make an error. Click Start, select All Programs, choose Accessories, and select System Restore. Then follow the instructions. Go back to these saved, original settings if any errors occur.
  • Step 2: Open registry editor Click Start and choose Run. Then type "regedit" and select OK.
  • TIP: You may have to type "regedit.exe," depending on your system.
  • Step 3: Select a key Select a key, or main branch, contained within each of the folder icons of the registry editor that appears. There are six -- five in Windows 2000 and XP -- that begin with HKEY, in all caps.
  • Step 4: Choose subfolder Choose a subfolder of any branch by clicking on the plus sign to the left of a folder to expand or by double-clicking the file. The right side, or value data box, will display the contents or value of the folder selected.
  • Step 5: Modify or delete Modify any values by right-clicking the entry, selecting Modify, and then making the changes in the value data box. Delete a program by locating its key, right-clicking on it and selecting Delete, or by pressing the Delete key.
  • FACT: Experienced users refer to modifying Windows through editing the registry as "hacking the registry."

You Will Need

  • Windows PC
  • Windows restore point
  • Registry editor commands

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