9 Easy and Powerful Windows 7 Registry Tweaks

What is the Windows Registry? Think of it as the "brains" of your Windows installation. Specifically, it's a giant warehouse, a single, easy-to-access, hierarchical database that stores each of your system's settings (and a ton of additional information). Without it, your Windows computer is little more than a paperweight. Mess it up, and you have a big problem on your hands. However, if you understand what you're doing with the Registry, you can tweak pretty much any Windows parameter you wish.

We've listed our favorite Registry tips and tweaks below. Don't forget: You likely won't see the effects of your fiddling until you reset the computer. Also, read "6 Registry Hacks to Make Your PC Faster" for more suggestions.

Back Up the Registry

Setting a Restore Point will help you recover your PC if you make minor Registry errors.
Setting a Restore Point will help you recover your PC if you make minor Registry errors.
Before you start playing around in the Registry, you must back up your system's precious information. We have to warn you once more: Mess up your Registry tweaking, and you might not even be able to boot into Windows to correct things.

To back up the Registry the easy way, simply open Control Panel, click System, and then click System protection on the left sidebar. Click the big Create button to have Windows walk you through the straightforward process of creating a System Restore Point--it's as easy as that.

You can also fire up the Registry Editor--the tool you'll be using to make your tweaks--by typing regedit into the 'Search Programs and Files' box, which you can find by clicking the Start button. Once you're in, right-click Computer and select Export, which will dump all of your Registry settings as one giant, importable .reg file.

Add Copy/Move Menus to Windows Explorer

Add new menus to Windows Explorer.
If drag-and-drop has never really been your thing, you can manage files more effectively by editing the Registry to add new 'Copy to' and 'Move to' options within the standard Windows Explorer right-click context menu. Clicking either new menu item will pull up a fresh listing of your drives and folders, and you need only choose the folder to which you want the selected files to go.

In the Registry Editor, navigate down to the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFilesystemObjects\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers. Once there, right-click the ContextMenuHandlers key and select New, Key; call the key Copy to. Double-click the (Default) value in the window on the right and enter {C2FBB630-2971-11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13} for its data.

To create the 'Move to' command, perform the same steps (but call the key Move to) and use {C2FBB631-2971-11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13} for the value data.

Turn Off Aero Snap

Turn off Aero Snap with this Registry tweak.
In Windows' Aero environment, windows snap to the sides of the screen by default. But what if you just want to drag windows near the edge of the screen without letting the operating system take control of their size and placement? Don't turn off Aero entirely: Just turn off the Aero Snap function via the Windows Registry.

Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Control Panel\Desktop. Once there, look for the value called WindowArrangementActive. By default, the value data is set to 1. Double-click the value and change it to 0, and your windows will Aero Snap no more.

Tweak Thumbnail Preview on Mouse-Over

Roll your mouse over an icon on the taskbar and wait a few fractions of a second, and you'll see a thumbnail preview of the exact contents of the corresponding window. Neat, huh? But you're impatient: You want your thumbnail to pop up the second you hover the pointer over the icon. As luck might have it, the Windows Registry offers a way to tweak this delay time.

In the Registry Editor, look for the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced. Right-click anywhere within the sidebar on the right, and select New, DWORD. Enter ExtendedUIHoverTime as the name. Double-click on your new value and replace the 0 with a 1, and change the Base to Decimal.

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