From visual tweaks to performance-related tweaks, you can use the registry editor in a variety of ways to enhance and personalize your Windows experience. Of course, before you start, back up your registry and Windows.
Open Registry Editor
You must open the registry editor before you can make any adjustments. You can search for the registry editor in the start menu or press Win + R and type regedit to open the registry editor. The UAC pop-up window may ask you for permission to start the editor. Click Yes to continue.
1. Say Goodbye to the Lockscreen
If you don’t like the fascinating Windows Spotlight landscape on the lock screen, you may find it getting in the way. Although Windows 10 provides various settings for modifying the lock screen, some people don’t care at all.
To disable the lockscreen, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows in your Registry Editor. Right-click on the Windows folder to create a new key and name it “Personalization”. Next, right-click on the new key and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it “NoLockScreen”. Once the entry has been created, double-click on it and change its Value data to 1.
2. Lower Shutdown Times
If your Windows takes a long time to shut down, it may be because Windows tried to shut down all running applications and processes before shutting down. However, some applications and processes take longer than others, which can slow down the process of shutting down the computer.
You can use the registry editor and modify this behavior so that Windows only waits a moment before terminating the process and shutting down.
To do this, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control. Look for WaitToKillServiceTimeout in the right pane and double-click on it. Change the value to 1000 and click OK. The lower you set the value, the lesser it will wait to kill services and make the shutdown process quicker.
Try shutting the computer down after you’ve performed this tweak and see if you notice a difference.
3. Beautify Windows With the Dark Theme
Whether it’s for beauty or better readability, some people like its dark theme. Unfortunately for them, Windows has a lightweight theme by default. However, you can easily solve this problem by using registry settings.
To do this, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize. Look for AppsUseLightTheme in the right pane and double-click on it. Change the Value data to 0 from 1 and press OK.
Restart your computer to see if the dark theme has been applied.
4. Enable Verbose Mode
Verbose mode is useful when you are trying to troubleshoot the Windows startup and shutdown process. Guides you through the specific steps the operating system takes when it starts up or shuts down.
However, it is better to enable verbose mode only if you have sufficient technical knowledge. If something goes wrong, your operating system may be experiencing serious problems.
To enable verbose mode using the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System. Next, right-click on the System folder and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value. Give it the name VerboseStatus and double-click on it. Set the Value data to 1, click OK, and restart the computer.
Your future boots and shutdowns will be more “verbose” now.
5. Ditch Taskbar Thumbnails for Quickly Switching Windows
By default, windows of the same program are grouped on the taskbar. To switch between Windows, you must hover your mouse over the thumbnail.
But what if there is a way that allows you to select the last active window with a single click instead of waiting for the thumbnail to appear? The registry editor can help you do this.
To activate this feature, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced. Here, create a DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it LastActiveClick. Set its Value data to 1, and reboot or just log off and on. This should apply to the settings and you’ll now be able to switch between Windows much more easily.
6. Add Apps to the Desktop Context Menu
The default desktop context menu is almost empty. If you think there are some shortcuts that will add convenience to your Windows experience, you can add context menus by adding frequently used applications.
You can add apps to the context menu by adding some registry entries. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell. Add two new keys under the shell key. Create one key and name it Paint, and then create a key named command under the Paint key. If you’re adding a shortcut for a program other than Paint, assign a name accordingly.
Go to the command key and double-click the entry named Default in the right pane. Change your value data to mspaint.exe. The value will vary depending on the application you add to the menu. When you’re done, right-click on the desktop and you should see Paint (or the app of your choice) in the context menu.
7. Make Your Taskbar Clock Display Seconds
The taskbar clock is set to display the hour and minutes by default. Plus, there’s no option to display the seconds in the taskbar clock directly.
However, you can display seconds in the taskbar clock by modifying the registry. Start by navigating to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced. Right-click on the Advanced key and create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the entry ShowSecondsInSystemClock, double-click the entry, and set the Value data to 1. Click OK.
Log off and back on, and you should see your taskbar clock display the seconds.
8. Adjust the Windows Explorer Border Width
If you want to change the feel of all your windows, you could try changing their border width. To change the border width for all windows, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics.
Find the key named BorderWidth and double-click it. The default setting is 15, but you can use a number between 0 and 50 to set its width. Change the number to find the width you like.
Registry Editor is a Powerful Tool
The registry editor can perform functions that cannot be achieved through the built-in settings of Windows. These adjustments apply to all versions of Windows, including Windows 10 Home Edition. You can also use the Group Policy Editor to make many of these adjustments, but this option is only available for users with Windows 10 Education, Professional, or Enterprise editions.