The Windows Registry is where the operating system stores all the settings that are required for Windows and installed software to function properly. Every time you install a program, data about it gets written to this database. Because the Registry is such an integral part of the whole Windows set-up, it’s important to take care when making any changes to it. Any slip-up could potentially cause major problems with the operating system. For this reason, you should always back up the Registry before making any changes to it, just to be on the safe side.
To Open Windows Registry, Open the Run menu and enter the command “regedit” without quotes. You can easily backup your Registry settings by File > Export.
Many PC users deliberately avoid fiddling with the Registry, preferring to leave system tweaks to software such as CCleaner. But provided you’re careful and know how to undo any changes you make, there are plenty of benefits to delving under the bonnet of your computer, such as customizing Windows to make it look and behave the way you want, speeding up your PC and turning off features you don’t need.
Messing with the Registry can be risky, but it can also, yield impressive results.
A Complete Guide to Windows 10 Registry Tweaks
1.SPEED UP WINDOWS 10
1.1 Speed up your Start menu
When you open the Start menu or select a program in Windows, there’s a noticeable pause. This is true regardless of whether you’re using Windows 7 or Windows 10. You can remove these delays and make the menu feel faster by navigating to:
Locate the entry ‘MenuShowDelay’ on the right. This is the speed at which the menu opens. Right-click it, select Modify and reduce the value data from 400 to around 100.
The Start menu should open significantly more quickly when you restart your PC.
1.2 Instantly switch to the last active window
When you hover over a taskbar button in Windows 7, 8 or 10, you’ll see thumbnails for all the open windows relating to it. You can then select the one you require, but if you’d rather save time by just opening the last active window instead, a simple Registry tweak will change the default behavior of the taskbar buttons.
Create a new DWORD (32-bit) on the right-hand side, and name it ‘LastActiveClick’. Set the value to 1
1.3 Remove problem entries from the Windows uninstaller
If you’ve had a problem uninstalling a program – for example if the uninstall has gone wrong or you’ve simply deleted it – you may still see it listed in the ‘Uninstall or change a program’ list in the Control Panel.
One solution is to try reinstalling and then uninstalling the software, but if that doesn’t work, navigate to:
Find the program entry you want to remove and delete it. This won’t uninstall the program, but it will remove the offending entry. It works in Windows 7 and upwards.
1.4 Speed up your shutdown
Windows waits for running applications and processes to end before it shuts down, but these sometimes hang and take ages to close. You can reduce the amount of time Windows waits by tweaking the Registry. Go to:
double-click HungAppTimeout and change the default value from 5000 to 1000.
Do the same for the entry WaitToKillAppTimeout. Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\Control
and double-click the entry WaitToKillServiceTimeout, then change the value data to 1000.
You can also force Windows to automatically close any non-responding programs by going to:
Double-click AutoEndTasks and change the value from 0 to 1.
2. CHANGE HOW WINDOWS 10 LOOKS
2.1 Enable Windows 10’s hidden ‘dark’ theme
By default, Microsoft’s new operating system uses a light theme, but you can unlock a dark alternative by using a simple Registry tweak. Navigate to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Themes\Personalize
then right-click in the right-hand pane and select New, DWORD (32-bit). Name
it ‘AppsUseLightTheme’. Right-click it and select Modify. Make sure the Value Data is set to 0.
Restart your PC, or log off and log on again, and the dark theme will be applied. Change the value to 1, or delete the DWORD to go back to the default light theme.
2.2 Change the Windows 10 logon screen to a solid color
If you’d prefer to have the Windows 10 logon screen display a color rather than an image, which may make it load slightly faster, navigate to
and right-click in the right-hand pane. Select New, DWORD (32-bit) and name
it ‘DisableLogonBackgroundImage’, then give it a value of 1. Windows 10 will use the same color as your Desktop wallpaper. You can change this under Settings, Personalisation, Colours.
2.3 Get back the old volume control in Windows 10
Windows 10 introduces a new, horizontal volume control. If you prefer the old up-and-down vertical style, get it back by going to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\ CurrentVersion
Right-click CurrentVersion and select New Key. Name it ‘MTCUVC’ and, in the right-hand pane, right-click and create a new DWORD (32-bit).
Call this ‘EnableMTCUVC’. Double-click it and make sure the value is 0. You don’t need to reboot your PC to see the change.
2.4 Restore the old clock and calendar in Windows 10
Clicking the time in your System Tray in Windows 10 opens a transparent clock and calendar panel. We quite like it, but the ‘modern’ look won’t be to everyone’s taste. If you preferred the old design, you can get it back by navigating to:
Right-click in the pane on the right and select New, DWORD (32-bit). Name it
Right-click the entry, select Modify and set the value to 1. Now, when you click the time, it will open a panel with the classic clock and calendar interface.
2.5 Change icon spacing on the Desktop
If you’re running Windows 8 or 10, you can adjust the horizontal and vertical spacing around icons on the Desktop by tweaking the Registry (Windows 7 offers controls
to do this). Navigate to:
and look for the ‘IconSpacing’ and ‘IconVerticalSpacing’ keys. Increase the number for each to pad out the spacing between icons. The values are in twips (twentieth of a point). Roughly, -17 is equal to 1 pixel and -28 equals 2 pixels.
2.6 Customise window borders and scrollbars
In Windows 7, you can make the size of window borders and scrollbars super-thin. Go to:
and set ‘PaddedBorderWidth’ to -0, and both ‘ScrollWidth’ and ‘ScrollHeight’ to -200. As with icon spacing, these values are in twips. If you want super-fat borders, change
the figure to -750, or anything less than that figure.
2.7 Add the Recycle Bin to Computer or This PC
To save you returning to the Desktop to check the Recycle Bin for your deleted files, you can add a shortcut to Computer (or This PC in Windows 10) by navigating to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\ MyComputer\NameSpace
Right-click in the pane on the right and select New, Key. Name it
Now, when you go into Computer, you should see the Recycle Bin. This works in all
versions of Microsoft’s OS, from Windows 7 to 10.
2.8 Remove the arrows from shortcuts
When you create a shortcut (or a program creates one for you), the icon appears with a small arrow in the bottom-left corner. Removing this will make shortcut icons look tidier.
To do this, navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons
(if you don’t see Shell Icons, you’ll need to create this key). Right-click the right-hand pane to create a new String Value. Name it ‘29’. Double-click it and change the Value Data to ‘C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll,50’.
Close the Registry editor, click Start and type CMD. Hit enter.
In the Command Prompt window, type:
taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
and hit Enter. This will close Windows Explorer, so don’t be alarmed when the
taskbar vanishes. Next, type the following three commands, hitting Enter after each one:
cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\
del IconCache.db /a
This final command will restart your PC. When it reboots, the shortcut arrows will be gone. To restore them, simply delete the 29-string value. This trick works in all recent versions of Windows.
2.9 Add a custom message to your login screen
You can add a message of your choice to the Windows 10 login screen that will be the first thing you see when it boots up. To do this, navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ Current Version\Policies\System
Double-click ‘legalnoticecaption’ and enter a title for your message in the Value Data box. Click OK. Double-click ‘legalnoticetext’ and enter your message.
Log out, and the message will appear when you log back in. To clear it each time, click OK.
3. IMPROVE HOW WINDOWS 10 WORKS
3.1 Remove the Action Center from Windows 10
The Action Center is a new feature in Windows 10 that displays notifications from apps and your system. If you don’t need it (and most people don’t), you can remove it by going to:
Right-click in the right-hand pane and select New, DWORD (32-bit) Call it ‘DisableNotificationCenter’. Double-click it and change the Value Data to 1.
Click OK and exit the Registry Editor. The Action Center will vanish from the taskbar when you next restart your PC.
3.2 Remove unwanted entries from the right-click menu
The right-click ‘context’ menu gives you instant access to various options that change depending on where you are in Windows and what software you have installed. The menu can become cluttered over time and fill up with entries you don’t use.
To manage the context menu entries using the Registry, navigate to
A list of programs that have added themselves to the context menu will be displayed. To remove an entry, just select and delete it, but make sure you know what it is before you get rid of it. This works in all versions of Windows.
3.3 Disable Security Center notifications
Windows runs regular checks to make sure important security functions – such as your antivirus, firewall and Windows Updates – are running, and alerts you if there’s a problem. If you’ve deliberately turned off these security features, being alerted to the change can soon become annoying.
To disable these alerts, go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE \Microsoft\Security Center\Svc
In ‘AntiVirusDisableNotify’, ‘FirewallDisableNotify’ and/or ‘UpdatesDisableNotify’, change the values from 0 to 1. This works in Windows 7 and 8.1, but not in 10.
3.4 Force Disk Cleanup to delete newer files
If you use the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup tool to remove junk files from your PC, you may have noticed that it leaves newer files behind. You can force it to clean up these more recent junk files in any version of Windows by navigating to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\VolumeCaches\Temporary Files
Double-click ‘LastAccess’ and change its value from 7 (days) to 0 to delete all newer files.
3.5 Stop Windows Update restarting your PC
Being forced to restart your PC to install updates when you’re in the middle of something can be annoying and time-consuming, but Windows Update is very persistent. You can stop it from bothering you in Windows 7 and Vista (later versions don’t have this problem)
by tweaking the Registry. Go to:
then right-click in the right-hand pane and choose New, DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the value ‘NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers’, then double-click it, enter a value data
of 1 and click OK.
If the WindowsUpdate\AU entry doesn’t exist, right-click Windows, choose New, Key and name the key WindowsUpdate. Now right-click this key, choose New, Key and name it AU.
3.6 Disable or delay taskbar previews
When you hover your mouse over an open program or folder in the taskbar, Windows displays a thumbnail preview. This happens in Windows 7, 8+ and 10. If you find
this feature annoying rather than helpful, you can disable it by
Locate ‘ExtendedUIHoverTime’ on the right (create it if it isn’t there) and double-click it. Change the value to something like 10000. This is the time, in milliseconds, before
the preview appears, so a large number will stop it popping up.
3.7 Remove OneDrive from File Explorer in Windows 10
Microsoft’s cloud storage service is built into Windows 10. If you don’t use it, you can prevent it from being included in File Explorer (this tweak won’t actually uninstall the service). Navigate to:
then double-click the value name ‘System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree’ and change the value to 0. Restart your PC to make the change.
3.8 Remove the Quick Access entry from File Explorer
If you’d prefer not to have your most recently opened files and folders appear in File Explorer, you can remove Quick Access and keep that information private.
First, hide the feature by going to View, Options. Under the General tab, change ‘Open File Explorer to’ from ‘Quick access’ to ‘This PC’.
Next, open Regedit and navigate to:
Expand it and right-click ‘ShellFolder’. Select Permissions, then click the Advanced button.
In the ‘Advanced Security Settings for ShellFolder’ box, click the ‘Change’ link, then click ‘Advanced’, click the ‘Find Now’ button and, in the ‘Search results’ box, select ‘Administrators’. Click OK twice, then Apply, and hit OK until the box closes.
In ‘ShellFolder’, double-click ‘Attributes’, and change data value to ‘a0600000’,
then click OK. Restart your PC.
3.9 Remove low drive-space alerts
Windows will notify you when you’re running out of space on your hard drive, which is
helpful, but can become irritating – it’s more common on laptops than desktop PCs. You can disable this prompt in Windows 7 onwards by navigating to:
Right-click ‘Policies’ and select New, Key. Call this new key ‘Explorer’, then right-click it and select New, DWORD (32-bit). Call the value ‘NoLowDiskSpaceChecks’. Double-click
it and changes the value to 1.
3.10 Disable the Caps Lock key in Windows 10
It’s very easy to knock the Caps Lock key accidentally so that you end up
TYPING WHOLE SENTENCES IN CAPITALS. It’s not vital to have Caps Lock enabled because you can just hold down Shift when you need to type upper-case letters.
To disable the Caps Lock key, navigate to:
Right-click anywhere in the right-hand pane and choose New, Binary Value. Name the value ‘Scancode Map’ and double-click it. Now comes the tricky part. On the first line, enter the value data: 0000 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 (the first four zeros will be filled in
automatically, then it’s another eight pairs). On the second line 0008 will be filled in automatically for you; after this, type 02 00 00 00 00 00 3A 00.
Finally, after the 0010 on the third line, type 00 00 00 00. Click OK to save the data,
restart your PC and Caps Lock will be disabled. To turn it back on again, just delete the Scancode Map value and restart your PC.
Switch off annoying ads
Since Windows 10, Microsoft is continuously testing out how it can annoy users with self-advertising in Explorer and in the Start menu. Luckily, these ads can be disabled in two ways.
In Explorer, go to ”View | Options | Change Folder and Search Options”. In the ”View”
disable the ”Notifications of the Synchronisation host” option.
In the registry, you can find the DWORD value ”ShowSyncProviderNotification” using the path HKEY_CURRENT_USER | Software | Microsoft | Windows |CurrentVersion |
Explorer | Advanced”. Set it to ”0”
Disabling Microsoft shenanigans
Since Windows 10, a folder for ”3D objects” is located in the standard list. It is expected to be saved with the other files of the Microsoft App 3D Builder, which only a few users use.
In order to hide this folder, go to ”HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE | SOFTWARE | Microsoft | Windows |CurrentVersion | Explorer | MyComputer | Namespace” in regedit and
delete the ”0DB7E03F-FC29-4DC6-9020-FF41B59E513A” folder.
Carry out the same operation for 64-Bit in the ”Namespace” folder of the ”Wow6432Node” branch as well. For those who do not use Microsoft’s cloud service, the bothersome OneDrive entry between ”Quick Access” and the PC drives can also be hidden using regedit.
Navigate to the ”HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID” folder and look for the ”018D5C66” string. Open the corresponding folder and change the ”System. IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree” value from ”1” to ”0” by double-clicking.
With a small registry entry, one can make entire drives disappear since Windows will no longer show it. That can happen also in the registry using the ”HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE | Software | Microsoft | Windows | Current Version | Policies | Explorer” path.
Here, click on the right window and create the entry ”NoDrives” using the context
menu ”New | DWORD value (32 bit)”. Open it by double-clicking and change its ”Basis” to ”Decimal”. The ”Value” that you enter depends on the drive letter that you want to hide.
The partition ”D:”, for example, has the value ”8”. It continues further, ”E:” has ”10”, ”F:” has ”20”, ”G:” ”40” and ”H:” can be hidden using ”80”. After a renewed login, the drive designated by you will disappear.
Cortana is and remains the most controversial because the assistant sends regularly sends language data to Microsoft for analysis. Since the Creators Update, Cortana can be disabled only from the registry.
First, go to ”HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE | SOFTWARE | Policies | Microsoft | Windows” in regedit and create (if not already available) the folder ”Windows Search” in the right window using the context menu ”New | Key”. Here, you can generate an entry using ”New | DWORD value (32-Bit) | AllowCortana” and assign the value ”0” to it. Implement the operation as usual on a 64-bit Windows under ”WOW6432Node”.
Hide Action Center
One can manage very well without the new Action Center, which lurks in the right edge of the screen and occasionally throws a pop-up window your way. The displayed messages are often insignificant, for example, the daily notification that the virus scanner has not found any threat.
To disable the Center, go to ” HKEY_CURRENT_USER | SOFTWARE | Policies | Microsoft | Windows” in the registry. If it is not available yet, create a folder here with the name ”New | Key | Explorer” and in that ”New | DWORD value (32-Bit) | DisableNotificationCentre”. Open it with a double-click and assign the value ”1” to it.
Automatically Delete Pagefile.sys at Shutdown
Pagefile.sys acts as a virtual RAM which Windows uses as RAM to store programs that are not in use, thus putting less pressure on the actual RAM. Although it is not recommended to disable it, you can delete it to save space and also avoid any vulnerabilities.
The page file size is mostly near the size of your actual RAM, so it can take up a lot of space depending on your RAM. When it is set to delete with a shutdown, you will save space but at the expense of prolonging shutdown time. In the registry editor go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ ControlSession \ ManagerMemory Management
Click on “Memory Management,” and then double-click on “ClearPageFileAtShutDown” in the panel on the right. Set its value to “1,” and restart the PC. Every time you shut down your PC, the pagefile will be deleted. Don’t worry – it will be created again when needed.
Adjust the distance of the desktop icons, mimicking the previous Windows 7 look
In Windows 10, the space between the desktop icons is considerably larger as compared to the earlier versions.
But that can be reversed. Open the “Run” window using the shortcut [Windows] + [R], enter “regedit” and press “OK”.
In the registry, navigate to the path
You will see a value “-1710” next to the “Icon-VerticalSpacing” file in the window to the right. After double-clicking on the file name, you can change the value to “-1125” in the “Edit string” window just like in Windows 7 and in 8.
In order to adjust the horizontal value, open the “Icon spacing” file, enter “-1125” and click on “OK”. Then close the registry and restart your computer. When you load back in, your desktop will have a different feel to it.
For those who often edit the registry, the Spartan regedit is not sufficient. Other tools offer significantly more functions:
RegCool is a powerful registry editor with many additional functions, which allows you to
also edit registry entries that are protected by the system.
RegScanner has a comfortable search function to display only the recently changed entries, for instance.
Registry Finder has a multiple window view to compare entries with each other in a
CREATE YOUR OWN REGISTRY HACKS
Once you’ve applied a Registry tweak to one PC, you may want to repeat it on another
computer. Instead of going through the whole process again, you can output your tweak as a Registry hack that can be run elsewhere (this will merge the changes with the target device’s Registry).
All you need to do is select the key you made the change to, right-click it, choose Export and give it a name. If your tweak involves more than one key, save each one, then right-click your first saved REG file and select Edit. Open the second key and paste the main [Hkey] part below the first. You will need to have ‘Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00’ entered at the top of the page. This should only appear once in the REG file.
We are recommending Windows Registry Troubleshooting and Windows 10 Troubleshooting (Windows Troubleshooting Series) Guide to read for more information on Windows 10 and registry.