You have more than likely heard the warning not to play in the Windows registry if you are not familiar with what you are doing. Even the smallest change can in fact wreak havoc on your computer. At first, you may just open it up out of curiosity. Next time you might actually expand a few keys and before you know it, you are making registry changes to tweak the operating system.

Over the years I’ve stumbled across many tips and tricks for customizing Windows. In this article and the following installments, I’ll introduce you to my all-time favorite registry tips and tricks that I have found useful.

Quickly Collapsing a Registry Hive
If you have ever poked around in the Windows registry, you will soon notice that you can get lost in keys and values. Sometimes to find what you are looking for, you really have to bore down, expanding key after key. Getting back to the top of the tree view can mean a lot of clicking and scrolling.

So how can you quickly get out of this mess and get back to the top of the registry view? Well you have a couple of options. First, you can scroll all the way up to the top or press the Page Up button on the keyboard, right click the open hive, and select the Collapse option. Alternatively, a tip that I have found to be most useful, you can use the Shift + Left Arrow keystrokes to collapse all the open subkeys all the way back to the open hive.

Prevent the Registry from Opening to the Last Open Key
Have you ever noticed when you open the registry editor, it opens to the exact point that you were viewing the last time you opened it. This is one thing that I used to find incredibly annoying. Sure it is convenient if I need to access the same registry key as before but this is usually not the case. You can prevent from occurring by making a simple change to the registry.

First of all, you need to open the registry editor and navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Applets \ Regedit

In the details pane, double click LastKey and delete the current value. Once you have completed this step, close the registry editor.

Next, you must configure the permissions on the registry key listed above. To do this you must open regedt32. Click the registry key (the same one as listed in the preceding paragraph), and from the Edit menu, click Permissions. Select your name from the list of users and deny yourself Full Control. Click OK and close the registry editor. Now when you open the registry, you will not have to close the keys you were viewing in a previous session.

In the next installment of this article, I’ll introduce you to a few more registry tricks that can be used to secure your registry.

[tags]regedit,registry trick,registry tip,registry hive,open key[/tags]