In this guide, you will learn what the Windows Registry is, how to access and configure it, and how to backup and restore it.
The other day I got a call from a user who had somehow managed to make all his desktop shortcuts open in Word. I suspected he had used the “open With” option in the context menu; thus, telling Windows to “Always use this program to open these files”. The problem was clear. Even though each shortcut had the correct settings, Windows would still open them in Word. The problem is, you can’t just tell Windows to open the shortcut files in an other program than Word. You have to somehow Reset the shortcut behavior to factory settings.
So how did we fix it ?
I’m sure you already know how to use both MsConfig, AutoRuns and RegEdit to control which applications to run when booting windows. I use MsConfig on a regular basis to stop unwanted programs from running. It’s a great tool on a daily basis, except that the list of deselected items tend to get rather long and annoying. Unchecking items doesn’t delete any entries. So how do you get rid of them completely ?
We’ve previously told you about Taskbar Thumbnails and how to use the Taskbar more efficiently. Personally I love the stack functionality in the Windows 7 Taskbar. Stacking all the thumbnails is a great way to keep the taskbar tidy and compact. The only thing that irritates me is that it doesn’t (by default) keep track of which of the windows I was working on last. If I’m working on several Excel Documents and I need to switch to another program for a few minutes, going back to the same Excel document will often lead me flipping through the entire stack.
There is a way to change this behavior, letting the Stack-feature save which window you worked in last. It requires a small Registry hack – and as always, create a backup before you do in case something should go horribly wrong. That being said, here’s how to fix it:
If you like to use shortcuts to get tasks done in the most efficient way, there is a large collection of commands you can run from the run dialog (XP/Vista/7/8) or the Start Menu (in Windows Vista/7/8.) In this guide, I’ll show you how to run the commands and what effect they have.
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Note: To get a better understanding of Windows Registry basics, read this guide.
If you’re somewhat familiar with the Windows Registry, you’ve no doubt seen references to HKCR, HKCU, HKLM, HKU, and HKCC. These abbreviations represent the five root keys in the Windows Registry:
- HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT (HKCR)
- HKEY_CURRENT_USER (HKCU)
- HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (HKLM)
- HKEY_USERS (HKU)
- HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG (HKCC)
This guide explains the basics on what each root key represents and what settings you can expect to find under each. I wrote this guide to help clarify the fundamentals of the registry and provide insight into what each root key does.