Windows Vista Registry Tweaks

Windows Vista Registry Tweaks

The registry is alive and well in Vista.  I am pleased that there are still settings in Vista, which we can only control through this registry editor.  In addition to solving a particular problem, each tweak has tips and tricks to help you master the registry editor – regedit.

List of Vista Registry Tweaks


Initial Impressions of the Windows Vista Registry

This is a bold statement that I may well revise!  Vista has very few NEW registry tweaks that we simply must configure.   As you may know, there are a huge number of settings in the registry; what seems to have happened is that XP and Vista each have different registry settings that lend themselves to tweaking.

My biggest surprise is that Vista makes use of registry settings that, while present in XP, I had no reason to investigate.  Displaying the Build number and researching, Windows\Shell\Bags are two cases to illustrate my point. There are also favorite tips from XP which are less important in Vista, for example, MenuShowDelay and SourcePath.

When you launch regedit, one change to watch out for is a subtle change in a few of the registry paths.  Vista makes great use of the ‘Policies’ folders, for example:

My point is that if you don’t find an old familiar XP setting in Vista, don’t despair, it may be there but in a different folder.  A triumph for regedit’s ‘Edit’ (menu), ‘Find’ and ‘Values’ (checkbox).

Registry Find Values

Vista Registry Impressions

  • I have no doubt that Vista’s registry is bigger than XP’s registry.  However, so far, I have yet to find a brand new ‘killer’, must-have, registry tip for Vista.
  • Good news, many of my favorite old XP registry tricks are still here in Vista.  However, many of these are incorporated into Vista’s GUIs.  I think of how configuring the registry hack ‘AutoAdminLogon’, has been replaced by: ‘Users must enter a user name and password’ (Control Panel, User Accounts)
  • My initial impression is that the Vista operating system has incorporated many of XP’s registry tweaks as native settings.  As a result, a number of registry settings that I needed in XP, are now defunct, for example SourcePath.
  • My hope is that ‘Tweakers’ will discover brand new settings, not present in XP, which will soup-up Vista.
  • Let me finish with a confession, some of the registry tweaks that I like for Vista, were already present in XP, it’s just that I did not know they existed!  For example PaintDesktopVerion (Build Number).

Regedit and Regedt32

From XP and Windows Server 2003 onwards, there is only one registry editor, regedit.  In Vista, if you type regedt32, the tiny program of that name simply calls regedit; once again there is no separate, second registry editor.

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Best Practice for Editing the Vista Registry

  • Before you make any changes to the registry settings, get into the habit of exporting at the branch of the registry that you are working with.
  • Backup the system state before you try anything radical in the registry.
  • Check out the .sav files in the \system32\config folder.
  • Research Volume Shadow Copy, and test how it restores a previous version of your registry files.
  • If your computer has a serious problem, which requires pressing F8 at boot-up, remember to try Last Known Good as your first recovery option.
  • Seek alternative methods; think laterally.  Instead of risking making changes with your registry editor, what else could you do?  I urge you to consider configuring a Group Policy rather than tweaking the registry.  Occasionally Vista may provide a new GUI to configure a setting, for example, instead of launching regedit and changing the value for AutoAdminLogon, you could launch the Control Panel –> Users and un-tick the setting called, ‘Users must enter a user name and password.’
  • Learn how to perform a remote registry edit with: Connect Network Registry.
  • As you work through my registry examples, make a point of studying each page’s ‘Key Learning Points’.


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Windows Vista Registry Tweaks: