- It is almost everywhere the case that soon after it is begotten the greater part of human wisdom is laid to rest in repositories.
- —G. C. Lichtenberg
When you change the desktop background using Control Panel's Personalization window, the next time you start your computer, how does Windows 7 know which image or color you selected? If you change your video display driver, how does Windows 7 know to use that driver at startup and not the original driver loaded during setup? In other words, how does Windows 7 remember the various settings and options either that you've selected yourself or that are appropriate for your system?
The secret to Windows 7's prodigious memory is the Registry. The Registry is a central repository Windows 7 uses to store anything and everything that applies to the configuration of your system. This includes all the following:
- Information about all the hardware installed on your computer
- The resources those devices use
- A list of the device drivers that Windows 7 loads at startup
- Settings that Windows 7 uses internally
- File type data that associates a particular type of file with a specific application
- Backgrounds, color schemes, and other interface customization settings
- Other customization settings for things such as the Start menu and the taskbar
- Internet and network connections and passwords
- Settings for Windows 7 applications such as Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer
- Settings and customization options for many third-party applications
It's all stored in one central location, and, thanks to a handy tool called the Registry Editor, it's yours to play with (carefully!) as you see fit, and that's what this chapter is all about.
Firing Up the Registry Editor
All the direct work you do with the Registry happens inside the reasonably friendly confines of a program called the Registry Editor, which enables you to view, modify, add, and delete Registry settings. It also has a search feature to help you find settings and export and import features that enable you to save settings to and from a text file.
To launch the Registry Editor, select Start, type regedit into the Search box, and then press Enter. When the User Account Control dialog box shows up, enter your credentials to continue.
Figure 12.1 shows the Registry Editor window that appears. (Note that your Registry Editor window might look different if someone else has used the program previously. Close all the open branches in the left pane to get the view shown in Figure 12.1.)
Figure 12.1 Run the regedit command to launch the Registry Editor, the program that enables you to work with the Registry's data.