13 epic registry hacks


By Michael Sammels

In today’s article we’re going to discuss modifying the Windows Registry in order to customise Windows 10. Please be aware, however, that a lot of these modifications will not work on the Insider Preview builds of Windows 10. It should also be noted that these will not work on anything below Windows 10’s November Update.

Warning: We would advise leaving the registry as it is unless you are an advanced user!

How to modify the Windows Registry

The first thing I will discuss before we delve into the deep is how to modify the Windows Registry and the precautions you should take.

In order to modify the registry, you will need to open the Windows Registry Editor. To do so, use the key combination Windows logo key + R, this will open the Run menu, where you want to type regedit.exe.

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This will bring up the Registry Edit where you can navigate through, add, edit and delete keys. The window layout hasn’t changed much since its facelift in Windows 95, however, see the following screenshots for those who have not physically seen the window before:

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In the conventional way of things, for example in web browsing, we use forward slashes to separate (example: http://www.microsoft.com/) – however, in the registry, we use backslashes instead (example: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE).

Registry abbreviations

Now – we should discuss how the abbreviations work:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT HKCR
HKEY_CURRENT_USER HKCU
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE HKLM
HKEY_USERS HKU
HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG HKCC

These are the abbreviations I will be using throughout this article, if you need to refer back to this table at any point in time feel free to do so.

Adding a new key

In order to add a new key, you will simply have to click any whitespace on the right hand side (larger area) and select New -> DWORD (32-bit) VALUE from the context menu. If the key you want doesn’t exist, go ahead and create it! If it does already exist, simply modify the existing version.

Backing up!

This is a very important step. From the registry editor, make sure “Computer” is highlighted and go to File -> Export…

This will save the entire registry with a name that you chose and a .reg extension. You could have MyRegistryBackup.reg for example.

In order to restore it you can either:

  1. Open up the editor and go to File -> Import…
  2. Double click the file and add it directly.

You must always back up the registry before you make any modifications as it is easier to restore a file than it is to undo your changes.

It should also be noted that in each of the hacks I will tell you to create the key. If the key already exists, do not create another.

1. Increase Taskbar Transparency Level

You may have noticed that the transparency on the taskbar is ever so slightly different, depending on whether or not you have an AMOLED or OLED display. With a simple modification you can enable this OLED transparency on any display.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Create the following DWORD (32-bit) Value: UseOLEDTaskbarTransparency and give it a value of 1.

Once you have done this, you can either

  1. Restart File Explorer
  2. Sign out and back in
  3. Restart your machine

And you should notice a slight difference in the transparency level. It’s not modifiable outside of these two options, so you can’t choose how much transparency you want.

2. Disable Login Screen Background Image

Windows 10 comes with the new Hero login wallpaper but some people are not a fan of this. If you want to disable it, you can do so… via the registry.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System

Create the following DWORD (32-bit) Value: DisableLogonBackgroundImage and give it a value of 1.

Once you have done this, the change should be instant, so you should only need to sign out to see the effect.

3. Enable Dark Theme

I know this is a setting on the Insider Preview builds, and therefore does not need to be done via the registry, but this article was written for people using the November update. If you want to enable the dark theme on Windows 10, you will need to go via the registry.

Navigate to the following key:

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize

Create the following DWORD (32-bit) Value: AppsUseLightTheme and give it a value of 0.

You will notice that this is in HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) and as such is a per user setting.

Once you have done this, you may need to restart File Explorer or sign out and in again for the change to take effect.

4. Disable New Volume Control

If you are not a fan of the new style volume control built into Windows 10, you can revert it back to the Windows 7 style via the registry. The change should be instant.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

At this point you will need to create a new key: MTCUVC – this is done on the left hand side, under CurrentVersion and on the right hand side, in MTCUVC, create a new key EnableMtcUvc and give it a value of 0.

5. Disable Network Fly-out UI

If you also wish to go back to the Windows 7 style network fly-out, the process is slightly similar to above, if not a bit more involved.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Control Panel\Settings\Network

At this point you will want to take ownership of the Network key. I will be writing a guide on how to take ownership of registry keys – but until I do so, you will need to rely on Bing.

Once you have taken ownership of the key, you want to create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value: ReplaceVan, which has three possible settings:

0            –             Default fly-out

1            –             Opens Network Settings window

2            –             Windows 8/8.1 style sidebar

The key should already exist, since 0 is the default.

6. Disable System Tray, Clock and Calendar UI

Keeping in line with the above trend, let’s also put our system tray, clock and calendar back into the Windows 7 era.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell

You will not need to take ownership of any keys this time. You simply need to create the following DWORD (32-bit) Value: UseWin32TrayClockExperience and give it a value of 1.

This will change all three things at once, and the change should be instant.

7. Disable Battery Fly-out UI

If you preferred the old-style battery user interface (perhaps you found it is easier to switch between power plans) you can also revert to this via the registry.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell

And create the following DOWRD (32-bit) Value: UseWin32BatteryFlyout with a value of 1.

Again, as this is part of the Immersive Windows 10 Shell, the change should be instant.

8. Disable Action Center Sidebar

If you want to disable the modern Windows 10 Action Center and bring back the old notification only style, you can do so through the registry. Having said that, you will lose access to all the shortcuts along the bottom, for things such as Connect or Settings.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell

And create the following DWORD (32-bit) Value: UseActionCenterExperience and give it a value of 0.

9. Completely Disable Action Center

If you want to take it one step further and fully disable the Action Center (and of course, lose access to all your notifications) you can do it with this.

Navigate to the following key:

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Wndows\Explorer

And create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value: DisableNotificationCenter with a value of 1.

You will need to either sign off and back on, or restart your machine for this to take effect. You will also notice this is in HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) and as such is a per user setting.

10. Activate New Experimental Login Screen

If you are not part of the Insider Preview programme, but you want to try out their new logon screen without risking your daily driver, you can enable it through this registry setting.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\TestHooks

You will need to create a new DOWRD (32-bit) Value: Threshold and give it a value of 1.

The change should be instantaneous, and you should be able to see it by logging off.

11. Disable Xaml Start Menu

If you have a Surface RT tablet, or you followed Windows 10 through the beta, then you will know of the old start menu that looks very similar to the Windows 7 start menu. If you prefer this to the current one, you can revert it with a quick registry change.

Navigate to the following key:

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

And create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value: EnableXamlStartMenu and give it a value of 0.

You will need to restart File Explorer, restart your machine or sign off and on again for the change to take effect.

12. Enable Jump Lists

If you miss jump lists from the previous versions of Windows, you can easily re-enable them in Windows 10.

Navigate to the following key:

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

And you will want to create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value: EnableXamlJumpView and give it a value of 1.

You will need to restart your machine in order for this to take effect. Also, remember that this is once again, a per user setting.

13. Disable new Windows Update UI

If you are not a fan of the new Windows Update user interface you can (currently) revert back to the old one with a quick registry modification.

Navigate to the following key:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsUpdate\UX

And create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value: IsConvergedUpdateStackEnabled and give it a value of 0.

Remember! You can undo all of these by changing the values to the opposite, or just restoring the backed up file that you created at the start of the tutorial.

Comments (3)

  1. John says:

    Nice Tutorial! Thanks for sharing

  2. Leon says:

    Number 2 only seems to work intermittently with Win10 LTSB when deployed as a Group Policy Preference. Any suggestions?

  3. James Rankin says:

    Number 11 doesn’t seem to do anything on 1607 builds of Windows 10

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