How To Open Registry Editor

Use Registry Editor to Make Registry Changes in Windows

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

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 it by executing it from a command line.

Don't worry though, it's not at all hard to do.

Follow these easy steps to open Registry Editor:

Note: 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.

Time Required: It usually just takes a few seconds to open Registry Editor in any version of Windows.

How To Open Registry Editor

Tip: If you're in a hurry, see Tip 1 at the bottom of this page to learn how to breeze through this first step and jump right to Step 2.

  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.

    In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click on Start.

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

    Tip: See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure.
  2. In the search box, or Run window, type the following:
    and then press Enter.

    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.
  1. Registry Editor will open.

    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.

    Tip: 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.
  1. You can now make whatever changes you need to make to the registry. See

    How to Add, Change, & Delete Registry Keys & Values for instructions and other tips to help you safely edit the registry.

    Important: Considering the impact that the registry has on your Windows-based computer, I highly recommend that you backup the registry, either the whole thing or even just the areas you're working in, before you do anything. See How to Back Up the Windows Registry for help.


  1. A really quick way you can open the Run dialog box in Windows is to use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + R.
  2. If you're using Registry Editor to restore a REG file backup but you're not sure what you're doing, you can follow along with me in my How To Restore the Windows Registry piece.
  3. 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, see these free registry cleaners if you want to clear out common registry junk automatically.

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