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Posted 29 Dec 2005

Quick Regedit Navigation

, 29 Dec 2005
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A tool to quickly navigate to a particular key/value using Regedit.


How many times have you seen a post here at CP, or any place out on the Internet for that matter, that contained a reference to a long registry key, and thought how useful it would be if you could go straight to that key without having to type it into regedit? I think I have a solution.

Finding and Opening Regedit

To find Regedit's window, we search for and/or create the "RegEdit_RegEdit" window class.

CWnd *pWndRegeditMain = CWnd::FindWindow(_T("RegEdit_RegEdit"), NULL);
if (NULL == pWndRegeditMain)
    rShellExecuteInfo.cbSize = sizeof(SHELLEXECUTEINFO);
    rShellExecuteInfo.fMask  = SEE_MASK_NOCLOSEPROCESS; 
    rShellExecuteInfo.lpVerb = _T("open"); 
    rShellExecuteInfo.lpFile = _T("regedit.exe"); 
    rShellExecuteInfo.nShow  = SW_SHOWNORMAL; 

    WaitForInputIdle(rShellExecuteInfo.hProcess, INFINITE);

    pWndRegeditMain = CWnd::FindWindow(_T("RegEdit_RegEdit"), NULL);

At this point, pWndRegeditMain should have a non-NULL value. Next, we need to show Regedit's window and bring it to the foreground.


The TreeView

Since Regedit maintains the last-accessed key (see Extras), we must ensure a known starting point: the root node. To do this, we simply "send" the left arrow key several dozen times.

CWnd WndRegeditTreeview;
                                       NULL, _T("SysTreeView32"), NULL));

// close it up so we have a known starting point
for (int nDepth = 0; nDepth < 30; nDepth++)
    WndRegeditTreeview.SendMessage(WM_KEYDOWN, VK_LEFT, 0);

Now that we are at the root node, we can start our descent down to the desired key. The key, as far as this code is concerned, can be formed in one of two ways:


To separate the two, we use:

CString strRegistryPath(argv[1]);

// the path must begin with a backslash
if (strRegistryPath.Left(1) != _T('\\'))
    strRegistryPath = _T('\\') + strRegistryPath;

int nIndex       = strRegistryPath.ReverseFind(_T('\\'));
CString strValue = strRegistryPath.Mid(nIndex + 1);
strRegistryPath  = strRegistryPath.Left(nIndex);

Note that when a backslash character is encountered, we "send" a right arrow key instead.

for (nIndex = 0; nIndex < strRegistryPath.GetLength(); nIndex++)
    UINT uVirtualKey = strRegistryPath[nIndex];

    if (_T('\\') == uVirtualKey)  
        WndRegeditTreeview.SendMessage(WM_KEYDOWN, VK_RIGHT, 0);
        uVirtualKey = toupper(uVirtualKey);
        WndRegeditTreeview.SendMessage(WM_CHAR, uVirtualKey, 0);

At this point, we should be at the desired key in the left pane.

The ListView

Now if a value was also specified, we must switch over to the list view and select it.

CWnd WndRegeditListview;
                                       NULL, _T("SysListView32"), NULL));

// have to wait for Regedit to update the listview

// select the value
WndRegeditListview.SendMessage(WM_KEYDOWN, VK_HOME, 0);

for (nIndex = 0; nIndex < strValue.GetLength(); nIndex++)
    UINT uVirtualKey = toupper(strValue[nIndex]);
    WndRegeditListview.SendMessage(WM_CHAR, uVirtualKey, 0);

Our value should now be selected. We can detach the temporary view objects and exit the program.


From a command prompt, simply type regeditgo followed by the desired key\value. If the key and/or value contains any spaces, you'll need to surround it with double quotes.

Once Regedit has finished navigating down to the desired key, you should have something that resembles the following:


A feature that I happen to like is Regedit's automatic selection of the last-accessed key. The name of this key is stored in the following value:


You can keep Regedit from maintaining the last-accessed key by removing write permission to the Regedit key. However, there is a tradeoff. By doing so, you'll also be prohibiting Regedit from updating the FindFlags and View values.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

David Crow
Software Developer (Senior) Pinnacle Business Systems
United States United States

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Comments and Discussions

Generalusing in commercial application Pin
myalias1234567828-Nov-06 14:04
membermyalias1234567828-Nov-06 14:04 
GeneralRe: using in commercial application Pin
DavidCrow29-Nov-06 3:28
memberDavidCrow29-Nov-06 3:28 
GeneralRe: using in commercial application Pin
myalias1234567829-Nov-06 7:37
membermyalias1234567829-Nov-06 7:37 
QuestionRe: using in commercial application Pin
DavidCrow29-Nov-06 7:59
memberDavidCrow29-Nov-06 7:59 
AnswerRe: using in commercial application Pin
myalias1234567812-Dec-06 14:40
membermyalias1234567812-Dec-06 14:40 

When I passed it this key, for instance, HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe it would open up the key

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software... and select the default value. Also, there was no way of telling it whether there was a value being passed in or just a key. So what I did was the following. Fix the above problem and add a way to tell the program that it has a key. So the function now has the signature

int RegEditGo( LPCTSTR lpszRegistryPath, LPCTSTR hasValue )

So when I pass a key by the msdos prompt as follows

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Adobe value1

it will open regedit and select value1

whereas if I pass in


it will just open the above key and not select any value even the default.

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