Section 13.8. Five Cool Things You Can Do in Your Registry

Armed with your new understanding of the Windows Vista Registry, you're no doubt ready to get in there and start exploring. Hopefully, this chapter has provided the "lay of the land" you need to get and keep your bearings in the otherwise confusing wilderness of the Registry. Although I don't have the kind of room in this book that it takes to make you an expert, I would like to send you on your way by pointing out some interesting landmarksin other words, five cool changes you can make in your own Registry. (For more Registry hacks, see my upcoming book, Windows Vista Hacks, from O'Reilly.)

13.8.1. Open a Command Prompt from the Right-Click Menu

The command prompt is useful for a variety of down-and-dirty tasks, such as mass-deleting or renaming files. But if you find yourself frequently switching back and forth between Windows Explorer and the command prompt, there's helpyou can easily open a command prompt using the right-click menu.

For example, let's say you want to open the command prompt at the folder that's your current location. Normally, that takes two steps: first open a command prompt, and then navigate to your current folder. However, there's a quicker way: add an option to the right-click context menu that will open a command prompt at your current folder. For example, if you were to right-click on the C:\My Stuff folder, you could then choose to open a command prompt at C:\My Stuff.

In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Classes/Folder/Shell. Create a new key called Command Prompt. For the default value, enter whatever text you want to appear when you right-click on a folderfor example, Open Command Prompt. Create a new key beneath the Command Prompt key called Command. Set the default value to Cmd.exe /k pushd %L. That value will launch Cmd.exe, which is the Windows Vista command prompt. The /k switch puts the prompt into interactive modethat is, it lets you issue commands from the command prompt; the command prompt isn't being used to issue only a single command and then exit. The pushd command stores the name of the current directory, and the %L uses the name of that stored directory to start the command prompt at it. Exit the Registry. The new menu option will show up immediately. Note that it won't appear when you right-click on a fileit shows up only when you right-click on a folder.

13.8.2. Change the Ribbons Screensaver

Inexplicably, Windows Vista screensavers such as the Ribbon screensaver don't allow you to change how they workfor example, to change the number or width of the ribbons. But you can change their options, using the Registry. Here's how to change the Ribbons screensaver to make it use a larger number of ribbons, and make each ribbon much thinner.

In the Registry Editor, go to:


Create a new DWORD called NumRibbons and give it the hexadecimal value of 00000100. Next, create a new DWORD called RibbonWidth and give it the hexadecimal value of 3c23d70a0. Exit the Registry. The Ribbons screensaver will now have the new settings. To restore the old settings, delete the DWORDs. (For more screensaver hacks, see my upcoming book, Windows Vista Hacks, from O'Reilly.)

13.8.3. Registry Editor Remembers Where You Were

Each time you open the Registry Editor, it automatically expands the branch you had open the last time the Registry Editor was used, but no others. So, if you find yourself repeatedly adjusting a particular setting and then closing the Registry Editor (such as when implementing the preceding tip), make sure the relevant key is highlighted just before the Registry Editor is closed, and that key will be opened next time as well.

Note also the Favorites menu, which works very much like the one in Internet Explorer, allowing you to bookmark frequently accessed Registry keys. Although it's useful, I find the existence of such a feature in a troubleshooting tool like the Registry Editor to be more than a little eerie.

13.8.4. Change the Registered Users and Company Names for Windows Vista

When Windows Vista is installed, a user and company name are entered. Unfortunately, there is no convenient way to change this information after installation. Surpriseyou can do it in the Registry! Just go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

The values you need are RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization, both of which you can change to whatever you'd like. You may notice that the Registry key containing these values is in the Windows NT branch, rather than the more commonly used Windows branch. Don't worry, both branches are used in Windows Vista. The less-used Windows NT branch contains more advanced settings, mostly those that differentiate the Windows 9x and Windows NT lines of operating systems.

13.8.5. Some Handy Registry Navigation Shortcuts

The Registry has thousands of keys and values, which makes finding a single key or value rather laborious. Luckily, there are a few alternatives that will greatly simplify this task.

First, you can simply search the Registry. Start by highlighting the key at the top of the tree through which you want to search, which instructs the Registry Editor to begin searching at the beginning of that key. (To search the entire Registry, highlight "Computer.") Then, use Edit Find, type in what you're searching for, make sure that all the "Look at" options are checked, and click Find Next.

Another shortcut is to use the keyboard. Like Explorer, when you press a letter or number key, the Registry Editor will jump to the first entry that starts with that character. Furthermore, if you press several keys in succession, all of them will be used to spell the target item. For example, to navigate to:


start by expanding the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT key. Then, press C + L + S quickly in succession, and the Registry Editor will jump to the CLSID key. Next, expand that key by pressing the right-facing arrow, or by pressing the right arrow key, and press { + 2 + 0 (the first three characters of the key name, including the curly brace), and you'll be in the neighborhood of the target key in seconds.

Part II: Nutshell Reference