How-To

Find Registry Keys Faster Using the Address Bar in Windows 10

It’s about time Microsoft gave RegEdit.exe an update. Check out this small, but welcome change to the Registry Editor.

Windows 10 brought us the “Windows as a service” model that is marked by a steady stream of software updates and an ever-expanding list of features throughout the operating system. But on the other hand, there are some Windows apps and components that have remained largely unchanged for years. For example, WordPad wasn’t revised until the release of Windows 7 in 2009, and Microsoft Paint didn’t get an overhaul until very recently, with the introduction of Paint 3D.

And then there are the parts of Windows that never seem to change. One of the most glaring examples is the Font Manager from Windows 3.1, which survived even in the Windows Vista release, which promised to be a major modernization of Windows at the time.  Another longstanding holdout is the Registry Editor, which keeps general operating system settings and configurations of each app and hardware driver on your Windows 10 device.  Over the years, the only thing that has changed about RegEdit.exe has been its icon—until now.

There is a subtle, but welcome improvement in the latest release. Let’s give it a quick look.

Quickly Navigate the Windows Registry Using the Address Bar

Navigating the registry can sometimes be confusing and dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. If you do have to make modifications there, Windows 10 now makes it easy to find just the key or value you want using a new address bar. All you need to do is to paste or type the path then hit Enter. Then, you’ll be immediately taken to that registry key.

The Old Way of Navigating the Registry

Prior to Windows 10, version 1703, navigating the registry was a bit tedious. Let’s say you wanted to go to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

You had to first locate the key name, expand the key then begin drilling down until you found what you were looking for.

The New Way of Navigating the Registry

Starting with version 1703, all you need to do is copy and paste the path to the value into the address bar then hit Enter.

Now, that’s much faster.

Like I said, it’s a very subtle tweak. There are still many areas where the Registry Editor could improve. There could be some further functionality added, such as using the Address Bar for universal search, now you are limited to just registry paths. Hopefully, improvements to relics like Registry Editor is a sign of Microsoft intention to modernize other parts of Windows 10 more often.

Which parts of Windows 10 do you think are due for some renovation? Let us know in the comments.


6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. You must be joking. Where would I find the registry key except in the Registry? I still have to search the registry, unless I have a copy of the key in a document or web page.

  2. Robin  

    One great improvement would be to able search for multiple entries and then able to delete them at a stroke.
    To be having to keep pressing F3 is a right pain in the butt and then delete and enter and then F3 again etc etc.
    There are programs out there that will do it but it would be nice of Microsoft would help out a bit on this.

    • beergas  

      Agree. Had that concern today. My F3 is an assigned hotkey so always have to turn that off. The one issue about a global search / delete 3rd party is the way they would list the ‘found keys’ output.
      Meaning if program just deleted any & all entries w/o an easy way to eyeball entries, you could blast away keepers if a long list. Like suppose one needs to re-enter the program but retain things like Firewall Rules. Those are royal pain to re-do sometimes (retaining Rules assumes you are still using same install location next time). There is free Wise Uninstaller type app to do a serious purge if valid installation (not 100% of them are). Likewise Revo works on most programs and often lists reg keys at very end of the removal so can carefully go thru those. Esp useful if Revo determines program is in a shared folder. Avoids purging a related program’s key that you want to keep. That might be a child or add-on that was put in same folder.
      Anyway Windows 10 really gets a fat reg pile and needs a high end CPU / C: drive now.
      Last thing is to be sure your main backup program works w/ brand new M2 drives. Reports that some do the image, but then barf trying to recognize drive upon boot for a recovery image.
      Of course easier / safer to copy registry in full first to a secondary destination. Windows internal Restore Point is very flaky about recovering a damaged Registry.

  3. HATCH  

    they need to make it easy to uninstall the groove music program. i’ve tried to remove it from my windows 10 computer but for some reason it won’t let me do that.

  4. Laura  

    How to I get to this wonderful new Registry Editor?

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