If you use the Windows Registry Editor with any regularity, you’ve probably found more than once that you’ve drilled down to a key in the wrong hive. Maybe you drilled down to a key in HKEY_CURRENT_USER when you really meant HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE . Instead of backing all the way out and clicking your way down to the right hive, we’ve got an easier way.

RELATED: Learning to Use the Registry Editor Like a Pro

As you know, you can do a lot of cool stuff with the Windows Registry, but you can also do a fair bit of harm if you’re not careful. And if you’re new to messing around in the Registry, make sure you read up on how to use it first. And also make sure that you back up the Registry (and also your computer) before making changes.

Part of being careful is double-checking that the key or value you’re about to edit is indeed the right one. When you’ve found your location (and before making any edits), verify that you’re in the right place by checking out the status bar at the bottom of the window. A lot of the keys and values are the same in different hives. In particular, you’ll see a lot of similar locations in both the HKEY_CURRENT_USER and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hives, which also happen to be the two you’ll make changes in the most frequently. Fortunately, the Registry Editor provides a handy way to jump between keys with the same path in different hives.

NOTE: This shortcut is only available in Windows 10, so unfortunately Windows 7 and 8 users are out of luck and will have to re-nagivate the Registry from scratch.

Say, for example, that you’ve drilled down into the following key:


Then you realize that you meant to go to System\CurrentControlSet\Policies the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive instead. Whoops!

No need to start from scratch. Just right-click the current key (in this case, Policies ). As long as there is a matching path in another hive, a special “Go to” command will appear at the bottom of the context menu (in our example, “Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE"). Click it to make the switch.

Registry Editor immediately takes you to the corresponding value in the other hive.

Remember, this only works if the same key path exists in another hive–it won’t work if you just went to the wrong key entirely. Still, this feature can save you a lot of clicking if you spend any time in the Registry. And, as complicated as working in the Registry can be, any time saved is welcome.

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Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He's authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He's also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years.
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