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Working with Registry via Command Line

The Windows Registry is a crucial component of the Windows operating system, storing configuration settings and options for both the OS itself and installed applications. While there are graphical tools available to interact with the registry, the command line provides a more efficient and direct way to query and modify registry keys using the reg command. This article will guide you through the process of working with the Windows Registry via the command line, highlighting the importance of caution and providing examples of common registry tweaks.

Introduction to the Windows Registry and Command Line Access

The Windows Registry serves as a hierarchical database that contains settings and information essential for the proper functioning of the Windows OS. It is organized into keys, subkeys, and values, resembling a file system. The reg command allows users to interact with the registry directly from the command line interface.

To open a command prompt with administrative privileges, press Win + X and choose Command Prompt (Admin). Alternatively, you can use Win + R, type cmd, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

Querying the Registry

Retrieving Registry Key Values

To query the registry, use the reg query command followed by the key path. For instance, to retrieve information about the current user’s desktop wallpaper, you can use:

reg query "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop" /v Wallpaper

This command will display the wallpaper’s file path and other relevant details.

Enumerating Subkeys

Use the reg query command with the /s switch to enumerate all subkeys within a given key:


This will display a list of all subkeys and their values under the specified key.

Modifying the Registry

Creating and Modifying Keys and Values

To create a new registry key, use the reg add command. For instance, to add a new key named “MyKey” under the current user’s hive, you can use:

reg add "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MyKey"

To add a new string value within this key, you can use the following command:

reg add "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MyKey" /v MyValue /d "Hello, World!" /f

Importing and Exporting Registry Data

You can use the reg import command to apply changes stored in a .reg file:

reg import path\to\file.reg

For exporting registry data to a .reg file, the reg export command is used:

reg export "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MyKey" path\to\output\file.reg

Caution and Common Registry Tweaks

It’s important to exercise extreme caution when modifying the registry via the command line. A single mistake can lead to system instability or even prevent Windows from booting. Always create a backup before making any changes.

Changing the Default Browser

To change the default web browser using the registry, navigate to:


Locate the Progid value and modify it to the desired browser’s identifier (e.g., ChromeHTML for Google Chrome).

Disabling Windows Telemetry

Windows telemetry gathers usage and performance data. To disable it, navigate to:


Create a DWORD value named AllowTelemetry and set its data to 0.


Mastering the art of working with the Windows Registry through the command line can provide you with greater control over your system’s configuration. However, always proceed with caution, and consider referring to official Microsoft documentation and guidelines. The reg command offers a powerful means of interacting with the registry, but its power comes with great responsibility. Stay informed, back up your data, and make changes only when necessary and well-understood.


  1. Microsoft Registry Documentation
  2. Windows Registry - Wikipedia
  3. Microsoft Support