Windows Registry holds all the tweaks to customize your Windows experience and deal with little nuisances that Microsoft wrongly assumes every user will love. From changing Windows’ design to unlocking hidden features, there are tweaks for everything. To help you improve your Windows 10 experience, here are a bunch of Windows 10 registry hacks worth trying.
Warning: Messing with the registry could corrupt your Windows. It is recommended that you follow the instructions precisely and don’t mess around if you don’t know what you are doing. Just to be safe, create a backup of your registry before making any changes.
Accessing the Windows Registry
As all the tweaks require a trip to the Windows Registry, it is important to know how to access the Registry. Press the Win + R keys and type
regedit in the “Run” dialog that opens. Click “OK” and the Windows Registry will open.
1. Add Your Own Apps to the Context Menu
The context menu is a fine thing, but to really take control of it, you can create registry keys to add specific apps to it. We’ll use Notepad as an example.
1. Navigate to “ComputerHKEY_CLASSES_ROOTDirectoryBackgroundshell.”
2. Under the “shell” folder right-click and create a new key called “Notepad,” then within that create a key called “command.” In the “command” key folder right-click the “Default” string, then in the Value box type “notepad.exe.”
That’s it. Now close the Registry Editor, right-click on your desktop, and you should see Notepad appear right there in the context menu.
2. Change Windows Apps and Settings to “Dark Mode”
The debate about whether reading white writing on a dark background or dark writing on a light background is healthier for you rages on, but if you’re in the first camp, then you can use the registry to activate Dark Mode across Windows. In the registry editor go to:
(To speed up the process you can copy-paste the registry directories from this article straight into the bar at the top of the Registry Editor window.)
Right-click an empty space in the right-side pane, select “New -> DWORD,” and call it “AppsUseLightTheme.” Once you’ve created it, you don’t need to change the value. Just reboot your PC, and you’ll have the dark theme enabled.
3. Remove the Windows 10 Action Center Sidebar
Windows 10 Action Center Sidebar offers handy quick access buttons and notifications. However, if you find these buttons to be unnecessary and are not comfortable with the sidebar taking up half the screen when you open it, you can simply disable it. In the registry editor go to:
Double-click on “UseActionCenterExperience” in the right panel, and then change its value to “0.” Afterwards, restart the PC, and you will see that the Action Center Sidebar will be gone, and the notification panel will be much cleaner and smaller in size.
4. Remove the OneDrive Button from the File Explorer
If you don’t use OneDrive or shifted to another cloud storage service after Microsoft decided to downgrade its storage packages, then there is no point of its icon hanging around in the File Explorer. The following image shows how to get rid of it. In the registry editor go to:
Double-click on “System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree” in the right panel and change its value to “0.” This will immediately remove the OneDrive icon. If not, restart the PC. Additionally, you can also completely uninstall OneDrive or move OneDrive to another local drive if it is taking up space.
5. Automatically Delete Pagefile.sys at Shutdown
Pagefile.sys acts as a virtual RAM which Windows uses as RAM to store programs that are not in use, thus putting less pressure on the actual RAM. Although it is not recommended to disable it, you can delete it to save space and also avoid any vulnerabilities. The page file size is mostly near the size of your actual RAM, so it can take up a lot of space depending on your RAM. When it is set to delete with shutdown, you will save space but at the expense of prolonging shutdown time. In the registry editor go to:
Click on “Memory Management,” and then double-click on “ClearPageFileAtShutDown” in the right panel. Set its value to “1,” and restart the PC. Every time you shut down your PC, the pagefile will be deleted. Don’t worry – it will be created again when needed.
6. Adjust Menu Animations
You can also adjust menu animations to make them look snappier. If you have a slower PC, then faster animations should make it easier to navigate. I have written a detailed article on how to adjust and disable menu animations; you can refer to it to learn how to pull off that registry tweak.
7. Disable Windows Startup Delay
Windows puts a tiny delay on startup to help apps starting up with Windows go through the process smoothly and so that you can start with a smooth desktop without lags. However, if you don’t have many startup apps – for instance, if you have disabled startup apps – then this delay could be unnecessary. You can disable this delay to speed up the Windows startup. In the registry editor go to:
Right-click on “Explorer,” and then select “Key” from the “New” option. Once the new key is created, rename it “Serialize.”
If the “Serialize” key is already created under the “Explorer” key, then there is no need to go through the above process. After that right-click on “Serialize” and select “DWORD Value” from the “New” option. The DWORD Value key will be created in the right panel. Rename this key to “StartupDelayInMSec,” and make sure its value is set to “0.” Now you should notice a tiny boost in Windows startup time.
Registry tweaks aren’t the only way to turbo-charge your Windows 10 experience, and we also have a list of many other Windows 10 tweaks for you to check out. Say what you will about Windows – its tweakability runs deep. If you have any other neat registry tricks or Windows hacks, do share them in the comments.
This article was first published in July 2016 and was updated in April 2018.