“Just Browsing, Thanks”

The first thing you should learn to do with RegEdit is to browse around the Registry and see what’s there. The Explorer-style interface makes the Registry’s data very “discoverable”; that’s a fancy way of saying you can start off with a high-level view, then see as much or as little detail as you like as you become more comfortable with the Registry’s structure.

Navigating with the Keyboard

RegEdit follows the standard Windows conventions for keyboard navigation--not surprising when you consider that the key pane itself is built with the standard tree-list control. When an item is selected, it is highlighted using the standard system highlight color, and you can maneuver about by using the keys shown in Table 4-1.

Table 4-1. Navigational Keys for RegEdit


When Used in...



Key or value panes

Switches focus between the key and value panes


Value pane

Opens selected item for editing

Up/down arrows

Key or value panes

Moves focus to the next or previous item in the current pane

Left/right arrows

Key pane

If selected item has subkeys, expands (left arrow) or collapses (right arrow) it; if not, moves to next or previous item

Left/right arrows

Value pane

Scrolls the value pane left or right


Key or value panes

Moves the focus up or down one pane’s worth of data

Home and End

Key or value panes

Moves to top or bottom of pane’s contents


Key pane

Moves the focus to the current key’s parent

Keypad *

Key pane

Expands all subkeys of the currently selected key

Keypad +

Key pane

Expands the immediate subkeys of the currently selected key

Keypad -

Key pane

Collapses the selected subkey

Using the Context Menu

Windows 95 brought the concept of a “context menu” to the Windows world. The basic idea is that by clicking the right mouse button[21] you can get a pop-up menu of commands or actions that are specific to the object you clicked on. For example, the context menu in Borland C++ has choices such as “Toggle breakpoint” and “Browse symbol,” while the corresponding menu for Netscape’s Communicator features items such as “Open link in new window” and “Save image to disk.”

RegEdit has these context menus, too. There are three context menus you can summon; the commands in each menu duplicate commands that are already present in the application’s menu bar:

  • Right-clicking a key in the key pane pops up a menu with six commands:

    • Expand/Collapse (which one appears depends on whether the key’s already expanded or collapsed) opens or closes the selected key. This command is dimmed if the key has no subkeys.

    • New allows you to create a new key or value.

    • Find opens the find dialog.

    • Delete deletes the selected key and all its subkeys.

    • Rename allows you to change the key’s name without removing and reinserting it.

    • Copy Key Name copies the current key’s full path to the Clipboard.

  • Right-clicking a value name in the name column of the value pane displays a smaller menu with three commands. The Modify command opens a dialog box that allows you to edit the value; the Delete and Rename commands are the same as those in the key pane’s context menu.

  • Right-clicking anywhere else in the value pane displays a single command, New.

[21] Or the left one, if you’re using a left-handed mouse setup.

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