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 the Windows design to unlocking hidden features, there are tweaks for everything. To help you improve your Windows 10 (and now, a little bit of your Windows 11) experience, here are a bunch of Windows 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 Command Prompt to Context Menu
Typing things manually into the command prompt all the time can be a pain. It would be much easier if, say, you could just open the command prompt pointing straight to a location by right-clicking in that location. Well, you can!
In the registry editor, navigate to:
At this point, you’ll need to take ownership of the “cmd” registry key, as it’s protected by default. Follow our guide on how to take ownership of protected registry keys.
Once that’s done, right-click the entry in the right-hand pane of the cmd folder called “HideBasedOnVelocityId”, click “Rename” then put a “_” at the start of the name so it doesn’t register it any more.
And that’s it. Close the registry editor and the “Open command window here” option should appear in the right-click context menu.
2. Revert to Windows 10-style Start Menu (Windows 11)
One of the hallmark features of Windows 11 is a new-look Start menu. It’s a pretty nice look, resembling something you might see in Ubuntu or macOS, but for some the change is a little too drastic and you may want to go back to the old-look Start menu.
Well, with this Windows 11 registry hack you can. Navigate to:
RIght-click an empty space in the right-hand pane, then New -> DWORD 32-bit Value, and call it “Start_ShowClassicMode”.
Once it’s created, double-click it and change the “Value data” to “1” to enable the Windows 10-style Start menu.
3. Increase Network Speeds
Many of the registry tweaks in the list will involve design or aesthetic changes that may make Windows 10 feel that much slick and better to you. But there’s also a whole trove of registry hacks designed to improve your Internet speeds.
If you’re having problems or experiencing packet loss, there are various things you can do, like increase your IRP Stack Size, enable TCP extensions, or increase the maximum number of ports available to various programs trying to connect to your router.
There are enough network speed tweaks in regedit that we have a whole list dedicated to it. If you’re mainly in the Registry Editor to improve your Internet speeds, then click on over.
4. Use Windows Photo Viewer Instead of Photos App
Everyone has at some point had problems with the Photos app in Windows 10. It’s no big secret. At the same time, the Windows Photo Viewer that we know from back in the Windows 7 days did the job very well, yet it was removed with a Windows 10 update some years ago.
The code for Photo Viewer is still there in Windows 10. You just need to create a fairly elaborate registry entry to unlock it. It’s a little different than your typical registry tweak, and we’ve created a guide for how to use the registry to make Windows Photo Viewer your default photo app in Windows 10.
5. Disable Windows 10 Lockscreen
The lock screen is a nice added layer of security on your Windows PC, requiring a password or PIN for you to log back in. If you feel secure in the security of your PC, you can turn the lock screen off altogether.
There are a couple of ways you can do this in Windows 10, one of which is through the registry editor. Here’s our guide on how to disable your Windows 10 lock screen through the registry.
6. Show Detailed Information on Startup
If your PC is experiencing slowdowns or inexplicable crashes, then you should make it your priority to diagnose what’s causing those problems. One possible way to do this is to set the Windows 10 startup to “Verbose Mode,” which will give you a much more detailed breakdown of the processes happening on your PC as you boot.
To activate this, go to the following registry key:
Next, right-click an empty space in the pane on the right, then select “New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value.”
Name the value “VerboseStatus,” right-click it, select Modify, and in the “Value data” box enter 1.
7. Open Last Active Window in Taskbar
Ever since Windows 7, open apps in the taskbar (or Start bar) have had their own icons, with each open window or instance of that app bundled under that one icon, and visible in thumbnails when you hover your mouse over the icon. This is designed to save space in your taskbar, and generally make things neater.
By default, when you click a taskbar icon for an open app, these thumbnails pop up, but you can make a registry tweak so that when you click a taskbar icon, the last active window of that app opens, which can save some time. Here’s how to do it.
8. Disable Shake to Minimize
The “Aero Shake” is a feature introduced in Windows 7 that lets you minimize windows by grabbing the one you want to keep open and “shaking” it. You may not have realized you even had this feature, but now that you know, you might not want it because it can sometimes minimize all your windows without you necessarily wanting that.
Shake to Minimize can also be a problem for people prone to hand tremors due to illness or other causes. If this describes you, click through for our guide on how to remove the “Shake to Minimize” feature.
9. Add Your Own Apps and Options 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 or Windows features to it. The exact way to do this will depend on what you want to add to the context menu. We have registry hacks for adding “Check for Updates” to the context menu, for example.
We also created a guide showing you how to add an “Open with Notepad” option to the context menu, though really you can replace Notepad in this guide with any other app on your PC.
10. Change Windows Apps and Settings to “Dark Mode”
The debate of whether reading white writing on a dark background or dark writing on a light background is healthier rages on, but if you’re in the first camp, then you can use the registry to activate Dark Mode across Windows.
Click on through to see our guide on how to switch all the most common apps in Windows 10 into Dark Mode.
11. 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.
There are a couple of ways to do this, including the trusty registry, so click on through for our guide on how to remove the Windows 10 Action Center altogether.
12. 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.
We have a registry-based guide that shows how to get rid of it. There are a couple of steps to the process, so check out our guide on how to hide OneDrive from File Explorer.
13. Automatically Delete Pagefile.sys at Shutdown
The Pagefile.sys file is pretty handy in Windows 10, stepping in as virtual RAM to take some load off your physical computer RAM to help speed up the process of retrieving program data, navigating your PC quickly, and managing other vital RAM functions.
The pagefile does, however, take up quite a bit of storage space on Windows 10, so here’s our registry hack to automatically delete Pagefile.sys when your PC shuts down.
14. 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. We have 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.
15. Disable Windows 10 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, this delay could be unnecessary, and you can disable it. With all that in mind, here’s our guide on how to disable the startup delay in Windows 10 using the registry editor.
Registry tweaks aren’t the only way to turbo-charge your Windows 10 experience. We also have a list of many useful AutoHotKey scripts for you to check out. Say what you will about Windows – its tweakability runs deep, as demonstrated by these custom docks you can install on it. Get under the hood, and get tinkering!