How to Open Registry Editor

Detailed instructions on opening Registry Editor in every version of Windows

Screenshot of Registry Editor in Windows 10
Registry Editor (Windows 10).

 Screenshot

All manual changes to the Windows Registry can be completed via Registry Editor, a tool included in all versions of Windows.

Registry Editor lets you view, create, and modify the registry keys and registry values that make up the entire Windows Registry.

Unfortunately, there's no shortcut for the tool in the Start Menu or on the Apps screen, meaning you'll have to open Registry Editor by executing it from a command line. Don't worry, though, it's not at all hard to do.

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You can open Registry Editor this way in any version of Windows that utilizes the registry, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

How to Open Registry Editor

  1. In Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, right-click or tap-and-hold the Start button and then choose Run. Prior to Windows 8.1, Run is most easily available from the Apps screen.

    Screenshot of Windows 10 Start menu with Run app highlighted

    In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click on Start.

    In Windows XP, click on the Start button and then click Run....

  2. In the search box or Run window, type the following:

    regedit 

    and then press Enter.

    Screenshot of regedit command in Run dialog box in Windows 10

    Note: Depending on your version of Windows, and how it's configured, you may see a User Account Control dialog box where you'll need to confirm that you want to open Registry Editor.

  3. Registry Editor will open.

    Screenshot of Registry Editor in Windows 10

    If you've used Registry Editor before, it'll open up to the same location you were working in last time. If that happens, and you don't want to work with the keys or values at that location, just continue to minimize the registry keys until you've reached the top level, listing the various registry hives. You can minimize or expand registry keys by clicking or tapping the small > icon next to the key. In Windows XP, the + icon is used instead.

  4. You can now make whatever changes you need to make to the registry, which probably shouldn't be done unless you are versed in how to safely add, change, or delete registry keys and values.

    Considering the impact that the registry has on your Windows-based computer, I highly recommend that you back up the registry, either the whole thing or even just the areas you're working in before you do anything.

  5. Make sure, whatever you do, that you only affect the narrow registry areas that you intend to.

More Help With Registry Editor

A quick way you can open the Run dialog box on Windows is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + R.

It's important to know how to restore the Window's Registry before using Registry Editor to restore a REG file backup.

Even though Registry Editor is open and ready to be used, it's not always wise to make changes yourself, manually, especially if a program or automated service can do it for you. For example, if you're using Registry Editor to clear up residual or junk registry entries, you shouldn't do it yourself unless you're very sure that you know what you're doing. Instead, us a free registry cleaner if you want to clear out common registry junk automatically.

The same regedit command can be executed from Command Prompt.