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Editing with Regedit

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Starting Regedit

Regedit isn't on the Start menu, but it is in SystemRoot, with the filename Regedit.exe. On the Start menu, point to Programs, click Run, and then type regedit in the Run dialog box. Typing the path is not necessary. You can drag Regedit.exe from SystemRoot to the Start button to create a shortcut for it. For even quicker access to the Registry, drag Regedit.exe to the Quick Launch toolbar.

Administrators can stop users from starting or using Regedit. First, they can prevent the setup program from copying Regedit.exe to the computer. How? Burn a new CD-ROM that doesn't contain Regedit.exe. Second, create setup scripts—answer files that allow users to run the setup program unattended—that remove Regedit.exe during the last steps of the setup process. Last, copy the source files sans Regedit.exe to a network share from which users install Windows 2000. Administrators can also use Group Policy to prevent users from editing the Registry, even though Regedit.exe is on the computer. The policy, called Disable Registry Editing Tools, causes Regedit to close after displaying a message that says Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator. This policy works for Regedt32, too.

Administrators should rely on neither restriction to guard the gates, however. They are deterrents that restrict Registry access to the most determined users, but those users can easily circumvent both restrictions. If Regedit.exe is missing, copy it from the I386 directory of a Windows 2000 CD-ROM. Grab the help file, too. If the policy Disable Registry Editing Tools is preventing access through Regedit, use a script to remove it from the Registry. Chapter 12, "Repairing Damaged Registries," shows you one. Last, if you don't have access to the CD-ROM or you're unable to use the script shown in Chapter 12, download any of the shareware Registry editors, few of which honor Disable Registry Editing Tools. ZDNet Downloads is a good source, and the address is http://www.zdnet.com/swlib. Symantec's Norton Registry Editor, which you learn about in the sidebar called "Norton Registry Editor," is a good third-party Registry editor that doesn't honor Disable Registry Editing Tools.

Norton Registry Editor

Chapter 1, "Understanding Registries," introduces you to Symantec Norton Registry Editor, part of Symantec's popular Norton Utilities. The company sells versions for Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 and hasn't yet said a word about a version of the utilities for Windows 2000. You can borrow Norton Registry Editor from existing versions of Norton Utilities, however. Chapter 1 describes the files you must copy from the Norton Utilities CD-ROM to use it. You can also download an evaluation copy of the utilities at http://www.symantec.com.

Norton Registry Editor is more powerful than Regedit or Regedt32. It looks similar to Regedit, as you can see in Figure 3.1, except that it uses different icons to represent each data type and has an area at the bottom of the window for displaying output such as search results and recent changes that you can undo. In Windows 2000, Norton Registry Editor adds Security to the menu bar. It supports the same security features as Regedt32.

Figure 3.1 Norton Registry Editor is a must-have utility if you spend a lot of time editing the Registry.

Some of Norton Registry Editor's advanced features make it the ultimate tool for power users and administrators. Its search feature is useful, allowing you to choose from a list of matches rather than pressing F3 to search again, and it has a search-and-replace feature that's missing in Regedit. The editor allows you to create shortcuts to subkeys that it displays under My Computer in the key pane, a nifty way to make sure your most-often-used subkeys are available at the root of the hierarchy. And I saved the best for last. Norton Registry Editor has an undo feature. You can undo recent changes in any order or undo the most recent change by pressing Ctrl+Z.

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