The tweaker's guide to the Windows Registry

Want to hack Windows? Better get familiar with the Registry first. Here's what you need to know.

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Editing existing keys and values

To edit a value, double-click it in the right pane of the Registry Editor. A box appears that lets you edit the value. Make the change in the box and exit the Registry.

Let's try it. We'll change the click speed of your mouse by editing

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse\DoubleClickSpeed

As mentioned previously, DoubleClickSpeed determines the maximum amount of time that can elapse between two mouse clicks for Windows to consider them a double-click (for the user currently logged into Windows). To change the default amount of time, edit this value. In this case, the default is 500, measured in milliseconds.

To edit DoubleClickSpeed, launch the Registry Editor, then navigate to

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse

Editing a Registry key step 1
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Editing a Registry key, step 1. (Click for larger view.)

On the left-hand side of the screen is the key, and on right-hand side of the screen are all of the key's values and the data for each value. DoubleClickSpeed is of the type REG_SZ -- a string value, which means it's made up of numbers and/or letters and can be easily edited -- and its default measurement is 500 (milliseconds).

Now double-click DoubleClickSpeed. The Edit String box appears, as shown below, and the number 500 is highlighted.

Editing a Registry key step 2
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Editing a Registry key, step 2. (Click for larger view.)

Type in a number larger than 500, and Windows will let you be more leisurely in your double-clicks; type in a smaller number, and you'll have to double-click more quickly. (Windows, by the way, recognizes only a range of between 100 and 900 for this value.)

Change the number, click OK and then exit the Registry. Your change should go into effect immediately, although you may have to reboot or log off and then on again for it to take effect.

Adding keys and values

Editing the Registry often requires that you add new keys and values. Let's take an example. Say you're going to add a new key under

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Classes/Folder/shell

called Command Prompt.

This key, as I describe in the story The ultimate tweaker's guide to Windows, will let you open a command prompt from the Windows Explorer right-click menu, and the command prompt will be at your current folder location.

First, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

/Software/Classes/Folder/shell. Highlight the key and select Edit --> New --> Key.

 
Adding a new key step 1
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Creating a new key. (Click for larger view.)

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