How-To Geek

Finding Registry Keys the Easy Way in Vista or XP

If you are a frequent reader of this site, you’ve seen your share of registry hacks. Today I’m going to detail how you can easily find the registry keys we mention, and even create a shortcut or hotkey to immediately drill down to the correct key by copying it to the clipboard.

For this we’ll use the excellent RegScanner from Nirsoft, which has a powerful full text search that blows away the anemic RegEdit’s find dialog.

Open From Clipboard

If you know the full path of the registry key, for instance if you are reading one of our many articles on registry hacking, you’ll be given a full path to find in the registry like this:


If you copy that path to the clipboard and then open RegScanner, you can use the option “Open Clipboard Text In RegEdit”


Which will open the registry editor and immediately navigate all the way down to the correct key:


Note that if you are running on Vista you’ll need to open RegScanner as administrator for this to work.

Create a Shortcut or Hotkey to Open a Registry Key from the Clipboard

This is perhaps one of the most useful shortcuts a registry hacker could ever need… you can pass a command line argument to RegScanner that will do the exact same thing as you did manually in the previous section. This way you can open a registry key location by simply copying the key to the clipboard and then clicking on the shortcut.

Right-click on the desktop or elsewhere and choose New \ Shortcut.


Add the following to the location box, adjusting for the correct path on your system. You can use the Browse button to find the file, just make sure that you place the /clipregedit parameter after the quote marks.

“C:\PathTo\Regscanner.exe” /clipregedit


If you are running on Vista, you’ll need to open the properties, and choose the Advanced button on the Shortcut tab, and then check the box to “Run as administrator”


Now you’ll have a shortcut that you can double-click to open the registry key that you copied to the clipboard, or you could assign a hotkey to it in the properties dialog.


Tip: If you add the shortcut to the Windows Vista quick launch bar, you can use the built-in hotkeys instead of bothering to assign one manually.

Full Text Search for Keys

If you know the name of a registry entry that you would like to change, you can do a quick full-text search for the name of the key by opening the find dialog.

For instance, if you wanted to quickly locate the NetworkThrottlingIndex key from our article about Vista SP1 network throttling, you would paste it into the Find String box, and then set Exact Match in the drop-down:


Now that you can see the result, you can just double-click on it to jump to the key in RegEdit.


Display All Keys Under a Specific Key

If you’d rather display all the registry keys underneath a specific key, you can use the Base Key option in the search. To activate the box, you’ll have to uncheck the “Scan the following base keys” at the bottom.

Paste in the full path to the key, and change the Matching to “Registry item contains any value”.


Or you could select from a couple of common locations with the drop-down box:


You’ll see a list of all the keys, and double-clicking on one of them will take you to the location in Regedit.


There’s even more registry hacking goodness if you take a look around in the Find dialog.

Download Regscanner from

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/27/08

Comments (13)

  1. Marty

    Also try RegJump.exe from SysInternals which pulls the reg path from the command line rather than the clipboard. I keep this in a tools folder that is always part of my %PATH% so I can quickly jump to any reg key from the command line:

  2. The Geek

    Excellent suggestion, I completely forgot to include it!

    Which is why I’m thankful for our great readers =)

  3. Gary

    Here’s a nice little IE addon for opening Registry entries found on web pages like the one at the top of this page.

    Find it here:

  4. Rich
  5. John

    You can create a regedit.exe shortcut in your IE Favorites folder. Go to: C:\WINDOWS\regedit.exe, right click on regedit.exe and choose “Copy”, then go to IE Favorites folder: C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Favorites\, right click and choose “Paste Shortcut” and a shortcut to regedit.exe will be placed in Favorites to open regedit.exe in IE just as you open any other file in IE or go to some or other Webpage.

  6. John

    You can create a regedit.exe shortcut in IE Favorits folder. Go to: C:\WINDOWS\ regedit.exe, right click on regedit.exe and choose “Copy”, then go to IE Favorites folder: C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Favorites\ , right click and choose “Paste Shortcut” and a shortcut will be placed in Favorites to open regedit.exe in IE just as you open any other file in IE or go to some or other Webpage.

  7. R Williams

    When I try to install some new programs I get this

    error message: Please set registry key
    HKLM\software\Microsoft\.NET Framework\
    install Root to point to the .NET Framework

    install location.

    Can someone tell me how to do this? Please?

  8. ivan

    my son forgot his password for vista, there is no guest account i have a program but it’s asking me for the path to the registry directory,
    can you help
    or suggest another program.


    I have a compaq pesario pc SR5030NX running vista basic and upgraded it to vista ultimate and windows update on 8-20-09 made my cd/dvdw drive not found in the registry there is no value listed for the drive and it looks like other registry keys are missing how can i fix this problem
    Thank You

  10. Ravi

    Dear sir/Madam

    I have formated my computer, but I could not recover my internet security kasperspy register key.
    Pls let me know how to find.


  11. wanda

    i’m trying to load itune 9.2 andIcan’t I was told it has to do with my Reistry key. I keep getting the message “Could not access network location %APPDATA%\. What canIdo? I wastoldI needed to get or update my registry key????HELP!!!???

  12. Scoox

    The last comments are hilarious and totally out of context. If you don’t understand computers or can’t pay someone who understands computers then you probably should not have a computer.

  13. Alysa

    Actually Scoox, I’m not a computer genius either, which is why I am here, but I don’t go around saying to my patients “If you can’t understand medicine or can’t pay someone who understands medicine, then you should probably not go see a doctor…” Wow, what type of world do you live in? A perfect one?

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