Fun with the Registry Using VC++

Environment: VC6

This tiny tool offers a comfortable GUI to change hidden system settings that you normally can change only by editing the Registry.

By using this tool, we can do the following things:

  • Change the title name of Internet Explorer.
  • Change the title name of Outlook Express.
  • Remove typed URL addresses from Internet Explorer.
  • Remove recently opened files from Windows Media Player.
  • Turn off the shortcut arrow for desktop icons, like this:

Note: I tested this application on Windows 98; it works perfectly. The tips may or may not work on Windows NT or other Windows operating systems.

Basics of the Registry

The Windows Registry is a set of data files used to help Windows control hardware, software, the user's environment, and the "look and feel" of the Windows interface. Without the Registry, the operating system would not have the necessary information to run, control attached devices, launch and control applications, and to respond correctly to user input.

The Registry is a complex database of information that was built in a hierarchical fashion by the writers and programmers of Windows. The Registry has a hierarchal structure, like the directories on your hard disk. Each branch (denoted by a folder icon in the Registry Editor; see below) is called a Key. Each key can contain other keys, as well as values. Each value contains the actual information stored in the Registry. There are three types of values: String, Binary, and DWORD—the use of these depends upon the context.

Note: If you're not familiar with editing the Registry manually, don't try it unless you feel comfortable with it. For safety's sake, first make a backup of your Registry.

The application created here uses a dialog-based MFC AppWizard (EXE). The application has a List Box that contains the tips. You have to select one of tips from the List Box and then click on the "Add" button to change the selected tip on your computer. You click the "Remove" button so that the selected tip does not affect your computer. The application also has two buttons: "ReBoot" and "ShutDown" for restarting Windows and shutting down Windows, respectively. A static control of the application displays a message about what to do after selecting the tip from List Box.

The application uses the following functions to open, create, close keys, write, and delete Registry data.

Function What It Does
RegOpenKeyEx Opens the specified Registry key.
RegCreateKeyEx Creates the specified Registry key. If the key already exists, the function opens it.
RegCloseKey Releases a handle to the specified Registry key.
RegSetValueEx Sets the data and type of a specified value under a Registry key.
RegDeleteValue Removes a named value from the specified Registry key.
RegDeleteKey Deletes a subkey.
Note: To restart Explorer.exe, do this:

  • Press CRTL + ALT + DEL (once!).
  • Click on Explorer in the "running processes" list and then on the "End Task" button.
  • When the shutdown window opens, click on "Cancel."
  • Eventually (just wait!!), another window will open, asking whether you want to end the task; click on "Yes." Because Windows needs Explorer to function, it will restart the program by itself.

Downloads

Download demo project - 26.2 Kb
Download source - 13.8 Kb