How to Get to the Registry Editor of Windows 7

by Shelley Hoose

The Windows Registry Editor does not have a Start menu entry in Windows 7, but you can locate and open it by searching for it in the Start menu’s “Search Programs and Files” box. Editing the registry incorrectly can cause a variety of problems, including rendering your computer completely inoperable, so back up your registry before changing its settings. In spite of the potential pitfalls, you can perform useful customizations using the Registry Editor that are unavailable using Windows' regular tools -- for example, to add applications you frequently use to a context menu or to disable notification balloons.

Select the

Select the "Start" menu to access the ”Search Programs and Files” text box.

Enter “regedit” and select “regedit.exe.”

Enter “regedit” in the box (without quotes), select “regedit.exe” from the search results and then press the “Enter” key. If Windows displays a User Account Control prompt requesting that you confirm making changes to this computer, then click “Yes” to display the Registry Editor.

Open the Registry Key you want to edit.

Open the Registry Key you want to edit from the tree of folders in the left pane. The Registry contains five main folders -- also called hives -- that support various customizations.


  • check To open the Registry Editor in Windows 8 and 8.1, press the "Windows" key, type "regedit" and press the "Enter" key.
  • check To back up the Registry, open it, then highlight “Computer” in the left pane of the Registry window. Click “File,” then “Export.” Copy the file onto an external drive in case your computer becomes corrupted. Because this file can be several megabytes in size, you can instead back up just the key that you plan to edit -- just select the key rather than "Computer" and then choose "File" and "Export." To restore the Registry from either the complete file or a single key, double-click the backup file; it automatically updates the Registry.
  • check You can also open the Registry Editor by typing "regedit.exe" at the Command Prompt, accessed by searching for “cmd” in the Start menu. The Registry Editor itself is located in your computer's C:\Windows\System32 folder and is called “regedit32.exe.”
  • check If your registry becomes corrupted, a registry cleaning tool like AML Free Registry or CCleaner might be able to repair the registry for you (see Resources).

About the Author

Lynne Pettus has worked in the communications field for more than 20 years, most recently as a technical writer and editor in the software industry. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from USC.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Image courtesy of Microsoft