How to Search the Windows Registry More Efficiently


If used with care, the Windows Registry can be a powerful tool for making changes to Windows on your computer. But it’s not the easiest thing to navigate, and finding individual entries in the Registry Editor can be confusing.

Luckily, there’s a much easier and more powerful way to search the Windows Registry.

What is the Windows Registry?

The Windows Registry is a database of settings and configurations for many parts of the Windows operating system. It was introduced in Windows 3.1 and has been part of the operating system ever since.


When a new program is installed, a new entry called key is added to the registry. Inside the key are values, much like files in a folder. The values ​​can contain the location of the program, its version number, the configuration of the parameters and many other information.

It is not advisable to make any changes to the registry if you are unsure of what you are doing. Improper modification of a vital key or value can cause your computer to freeze or even stop working altogether. More likely it would break the software the value is associated with.

You can do a lot of useful things in the registry if you’re careful and follow the advice of a reliable source like MakeUseOf. To learn more, check out our beginner’s guide to the Windows registry and how to use the registry safely.

Download and configure RegScanner

One of the biggest headaches when working in the registry is finding the keys and values ​​you want to modify. You can use the Find function, but it doesn’t always work if you don’t know the exact name of the value.

RegScanner is a small, lightweight utility that lets you search for keys and values ​​using multiple variables. You can search by value type, like DWORD or SZ, or even by value modification date. You can download RegScanner from the NirSoft website. There are several different versions, including an x64 version.

Download the desired version and unzip the zipped folder. RegScanner is a portable utility. It is not necessary to install it before you can use it. Simply double-click the RegScanner executable file to get started.

RegScanner will open with the scan options pane open. It may seem confusing at first, but it’s not as difficult to use as it first appears.

Search the Windows Registry with RegScanner

RegScanner gives you several ways to search for keys and values ​​in the registry. You can search for specific values ​​or values ​​that share a particular quality, such as data length.

Search by name

Searching by the exact name of the value is the easiest way to find registry entries. When searching for a value name, the results should generally contain only one item.

  1. Open RegScanner and click on the New Scan button if the scan options pane does not open automatically.
  2. In the Search string field, type the name of the value you want to find. For example, “StuckRects3”.
  3. Change the Matching field at Exact match Where Registry item contains one or more words.
  4. If you don’t know if this is the name of a value or a key, leave all the options in the field Watch field selected.
  5. Near the bottom of the scan options, choose the base key (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, etc.) where you think the value is. If you are unsure, you can select them all.
  6. Click on To analyse and wait for the results to appear in the main pane. With an exact name search, there should only be one result. You can double-click it to open it in Registry Editor.

You can easily search by other data types, such as a DWORD value, or even by a full string. Simply edit the field corresponding to the type of data you are using.

Search by modification date

If you know when a value or key was last changed, such as when you installed software, you can narrow your search by date.

  1. In the scan options, enter your search term if you have one. If not, and you just want to find all changed values ​​in a date range, leave it blank.
  2. There are two time modifiers to choose from in the time filter field: Show only in last and Show only in specified range.
  3. Choose the time filter that suits your needs and set the time range or date range as needed. Then click on the Scan button.
  4. When you find the value or key you are looking for, you can double-click it to open it in Registry Editor.

Be aware that even if you search for keys or values ​​changed in the last few minutes, there can still be hundreds of results, especially if you’ve been using your computer during that time. Even a small amount of information entered in the Search field will reduce the number of results.

Exporting registry values ​​as REG files

When you have researched and found the registry value you want, you can easily export it as a REG file. You can use this REG file later, share it, or copy it to another computer. When a REG file is run, it overwrites the corresponding value in the registry.

  1. In RegScanner, search and find the value you want to export as a REG file.
  2. Select the value and click the Export selected items button Where File > Export Selected Items. You can also use the shortcut CTRL+E.
  3. Choose the export location and enter a file name you will remember.

You can also save keys and values ​​to a text file. However, it is only a recording or visualization of the data in it. You cannot use the text file in the same way as the REG file.

Using Registry Editor Search

There is a limited search tool built into Registry Editor. It only allows you to search by value, data or key name. It also does not return a list of results like RegScanner. If it can’t find the exact value you entered, it won’t return anything.

  1. To use the Find function, open Registry Editor and click Edit.
  2. Select To find in the menu and enter the search term in the field.
  3. You can choose from keys, valuesand Data or search for all three.

If several values ​​have the same name, you can press F3 to find the next one if the first result is not the one you need.

A Better Way to Search the Windows Registry

As long as you’re careful and understand the changes you’re making, the Windows Registry can be a powerful tool. You can use it to make changes to Windows apps and features that might not be available in standard settings. Finding keys and values ​​is not always very easy, but using RegScanner, searching the registry is much less frustrating.


Comments are closed.