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How to Create and Edit the Windows 10 Registry File

Adam Bertram

The Windows 10 Registry file contains critical information related to how the operating system functions. Here's how you can create and edit the Windows 10 Registry file.

  • The Windows Registry file contains all passwords and settings for a device using the Windows 10 operating system.
  • You can make edits to this file to customize your operating system to suit your preferences.
  • You should take a backup of the Windows Registry file before making any changes; otherwise, you risk losing all your settings.
  • This article is for Windows 10 users learning how to create a regedit.exe file for editing or settings backup.

Windows Registry is one of the key components of the Windows operating system. This hierarchical database contains windows settings, application settings, device driver info and user passwords. When an application is installed, some part of the software is stored in the registry file, also known as regedit.exe. 

Before making any changes to the registry file, it is important to back up the entire registry database. This way, if anything goes wrong you will be able to import original settings from this file. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to create, edit and save the Windows 10 Registry file. [Read related article: Laptop Buying Guide for Small Business]

How to back up your registry database

Before making changes to your Windows 10 operating system (OS), you should make a backup to preserve your settings and ensure you can restore them in the event something goes wrong while editing. Here's how to back up your registry database:

  1. To access the Registry Editor in Windows 10, type "regedit" in the Cortana search bar

  2. Right-click on the regedit option, and choose "Open as Administrator." Alternatively, you can press the Windows key + R key, which opens the Run Dialog box. Type "regedit" in this box and press "OK."

  1. Click on File --> Export. 

  2. Type a file name and save the registry file. You can save the entire database or choose a selected range. Exported registry files get the REG extension by default.

How to create a new registry file

A registry file is a simple text file that is renamed to .reg extension. When the file is properly configured, you can simply click on it and make changes to your Windows Registry. To create a new registry file, follow these steps:

  1. Open Notepad and type in the following syntax:

  1. Save the text file to your computer, then right-click on it and rename it with a REG extension. Now when you double-click this file, it will make changes to the registry.

Alternatively, you can create a REG file with the following syntax:

TipTip: To manually start the service, change the data value to 00000003. To disable it, change the data value to 00000004.

How to edit the registry

With the Registry Editor, you can make changes to your current registry file. Here is an example that allows you to change the homepage of your browser (this is especially useful in case malware has hijacked your browser's homepage):

  1. Open the Registry Editor by typing "Regedit" in the Cortana search bar and agreeing to the UAC dialog box (or use the Windows key + R key method). 
  2. Click the + sign next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER, then select Software, then Microsoft, then Internet Explorer.
  3. Right-click on Main and choose Export, then save the file to your computer.
  4. Right-click on the file, choose "Open With" and select Notepad.

When you open the file, it will look like this:

The first line – Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 – tells the operating system that this file is a registry file. The second portion is the configuration details, which tell the OS what to add and change in the registry.

[Read related article: Switching From Mac to PC: A Business User's Guide]

To change the homepage to a specific website, such as Microsoft, follow these steps:

  1. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER --> Software --> Microsoft --> Internet Explorer --> Main. 
  2. Check for the Start Page option on the right-side pane, then double-click on "Start Page." 
  3. Under "Value Data," type the name of the website (www.microsoft.com) and click "OK."

Did you know?Did you know? If you make a mistake while making this change, you can simply double-click the exported file to reset the changes you made.

How to delete a specific registry entry

When you uninstall a program, there are chances that some registry settings are not deleted. To completely uninstall the program, you will need to delete the program's entry from the registry. To do so, follow these steps: 

  1. Open the Registry Editor and click the + sign beside the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
  2. Click "Software," and identify the program that needs to be deleted. 
  3. Right-click on the correct entry, and select "Delete."
  4. Click the + sign beside HKEY_CURRENT_USER, go to "Software," identify the program that needs to be deleted, right-click on the entry, and select "Delete."

Stella Morrison contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Image Credit: Poike / Getty Images
Adam Bertram
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Adam Bertram is a 20-year veteran of IT and experienced online business professional. He's an entrepreneur, IT influencer, Microsoft MVP, blogger, trainer and content marketing writer for multiple technology companies. Adam is also the founder of the popular IT career development platform TechSnips. Catch up on Adam's articles at adamtheautomator.com, connect on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter at @adbertram or the TechSnips Twitter account at @techsnips_io.