Finding the Right Registry Key

The two main obstacles you’ll encounter when trying to make a change to the Registry are (1) where a setting is located in the Registry and (2) what modifications are necessary to effect the desired changes. Sometimes it’s obvious, such as a value called ShowSplashScreen, with its contents set to 1; changing the 1 to a 0 would most likely result in turning the option off. Other times you’ll see a long, seemingly meaningless series of numbers and letters. Although there are no strict rules as to how values and keys are named or how the data therein is arranged, a little common sense and intuition will get you through most situations.

Here’s a solution that will help you find the corresponding Registry key for a particular setting in Windows. For this example, we’ll find the Registry setting associated with showing or hiding hidden files in Explorer, and then we’ll create the appropriate Registry patch.


A Registry patch is a convenient way of automating changes to the Registry, and therefore to Windows and your applications, and is useful if you frequently change a setting or a group of settings. It’s also a convenient way to propagate a group of settings to one or more other computers. This solution provides a way to come up with a Registry patch that corresponds to one or more options in the interface.

The idea is to take snapshots (make Registry patches) of your entire Registry before and after a change is made in Explorer (or another program). ...

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