How to Search Windows Registry For An Entry

The Windows registry can be a confusing place when you are trying to find a particular registry key. Just to find one registry key you might have to enter up to 10 folders. Folders in folders, in folders. It seems like the Windows Registry goes on forever. Its just a maze of entries that takes time to navigate through, and therefore I take the shortcut. I do not navigate or browse through the registry, I do a quick search and find my registry key fast.

Warning: This involves entering the windows registry and therefore is not recommended for new computer users. One wrong move in this area can render your computer unusable. If you choose to proceed with this tutorial please backup your Windows registry first.

What does a registry key look like?

A registry key simply looks like a folder with a bazaar path name. There are 5 registry keys. HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS, and HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG. Any folders that are contained in these registries keys are subkeys.

registry keys - computer tips and tricks

How do you find the Windows Registry?

  1. Press the Win Key and the letter R on your keyboard for the run box to appear.
  2. Type in regedit and press enter or ok.

That’s how easy it is to get the Windows Registry.

In newer versions of Windows you can simply go to the start menu and type “regedit” into the search bar.

How to Search Windows Registry?

  1. Once the registry has opened simply click once on the word computer to make it blue.
  2. Then press CTRL and F on your keyboard.
  3. A find box will appear. Type in what you want to find.

how to search the registry

4. If you are searching for something like HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareClassesLocal SettingsSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionTrayNotifyiconstreams it will not work. The string is too long. However if you search for the last subkey (iconstreams) you will be taken straight to it. See below for examples.

find a key in the registry

After you have typed in the subkey you want to find and pressed find next or enter, you are taken straight to what you want. Of course it will not work if the subkey does not exist.

search the windows registry

By searching the registry instead of navigating to the subkey manually, I have saved loads of time and stress. Image finding HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareClassesLocal SettingsSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionTrayNotifyiconstreams. You would have to open nine folders to get to where you want to go, but also having to find which ones to open in amongst hundreds.

Notes on how to search for a registry key or subkey:

  • You can experiment and practice finding subkeys..
  • Just remember that editing the registry is dangerous if you do not know what you are doing.
  • Always search for the last subkey, if that does not exist, search for the second last subkey.


    • says

      You can follow the instruction above or you can navigate through the registry manually. Just open one folder at a time. If you are not sure you should get someone to help you as editing the registry the wrong way can cause your computer to stop working.