How do I open and edit the Windows registry

Updated: 01/31/2019 by Computer Hope

Caution: Before editing or changing anything in the Microsoft Windows registry, it's recommended that you backup the registry. We also highly recommend that anyone new to the registry become familiar with all the Windows registry basics.

To open the Windows registry, follow the steps below.

  1. Click the Start button.
  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.

Microsoft Windows Registry Editor

Tip: If you have restricted access to the Windows computer you're logged into, you may not be able to access the Windows registry.

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 will see the SOFTWARE folder, then Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, and finally the Run folder.


Tip: 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 above registry path, you'll see a window similar to the example below. In this example, you can see four different string value keys, which in this case are pointing to each of the programs Windows runs each time the computer is turned on or restarted.

Windows registry edit screen

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 were to double-click the 'IntelliPoint' value in the example above, a new window would appear 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 do I delete a Windows registry value

To delete a registry value, highlight any registry Name and then press the delete key 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 delete key.

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.

Additional information