4.1. Registry Editor Crash Course
Although the Registry is stored in multiple files on your hard disk, it is represented by a single, logical, hierarchical structure, similar to the folders on your hard disk. The Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) is included with Windows Vista to enable you to view and manually edit the contents of the Registry.
When you open the Registry Editor, you'll see a window divided into two panes: the left side shows a tree with keys (represented as folders), and the right side shows the contents (values) stored in the currently selected key.
Editing the Registry generally involves navigating down through branches to a particular key and then modifying an existing value or creating a new key or value. You can modify the contents of any value by double-clicking it.
To add a new key or value, select New from the Edit menu, select what you want to add, and then type a name. You can delete a key or value by clicking on it and pressing the Del key or by right-clicking on it and selecting Delete. You can also rename any existing value and almost any key with the same methods used to rename files in Explorer: right-click on an object and click Rename, click on it twice (slowly), or just highlight it and press the F2 key. Renaming a key or value is a safe alternative to deleting.
Warning: Although most Registry settings are entirely benign, you can irrevocably disable certain components of Windows Vistaor even prevent Windows from startingif you don't exercise some caution. You can limit the risk by creating Registry patches (backups) of keys before you modify their contents by going to File Export. Better yet, a complete system backup will ensure that even the most severe mistakes are recoverable.
Similar to Explorer, though, is the notion of a path. A Registry path is a location in the Registry described by the series of nested keys in which a setting is located. For example, if a particular value is in the Microsoft key under SOFTWARE, which is under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, the Registry path is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft.