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Is there some documentation on the various Windows 7 registry settings, preferably from Microsoft or in some kind of Wiki? E.g., what settings exist for the Taskbar, Start Menu, Explorer, etc?

I've found some 'tweak' sites but they usually only offer information for a few features and even that is mostly hidden in reg files and poorly documented.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As Harrymc pointed out, you're not going to get every key, but Microsoft does actually offer quite a bit of info on the registry and it's all on support.microsoft.com. Not exactly sure what you're looking for, but you may just be able to find it there.

Head over to there, and type "REG: entries" in to the Bing search box and hit enter.

You'll get like 5000 results, many like these:

• REG: Microsoft Mail Entries, PART 2 (102962) - This is the second of three articles on the MS Mail entries; for the other entries, see "Microsoft Mail Entries, Part 1" and "Microsoft Mail Entries, Part 3". REGISTRY ENTRIES FOR ... http://support.microsoft.com/kb/102962/en-us

• REG: Device Driver Entries, PART 5
(102992) - The article contains REGISTRY entries for Sound Card and Video Drivers. These subgroups are included: Sound Card DriversVideo Device DriverVideo Information in the DeviceMap ... http://support.microsoft.com/kb/102992/en-us

• REG: Subsystems Entries, PART 2
(102972) - This is the second of two articles on these entries; for the other entries, see "Registry Entries for Subsystems, Part 1". REGISTRY ENTRIES FOR SUBSYSTEMS This section describes ... http://support.microsoft.com/kb/102972/en-us

• REG: CurrentControlSet Entries PART 3 (102986) - The article contains REGISTRY entries for the CurrentControlSet\Control Subkeys Part 3: SetupTimeZoneInformationVirtualDeviceDriversWindowsWOW For listings of the other control ... http://support.microsoft.com/kb/102986/en-us

So you've got lots of reading material available. ;)

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There isn't any one place that describes the registry's contents, because Microsoft prefers keeping the freedom to change. In most areas, Microsoft keeps this info in semi-confidential status. Although MS does publish some articles with registry info, these are not always up-to-date.

Therefore, when you need any registry entry, google is your friend. You have to search, and then to combine the pieces that you find into a whole (not always successfully). And not every article is correct (or not correct any more).

In spite of a lot of effort, the community's knowledge of registry settings is still quite spotty, which is just the situation that MS would like to have (and it can't really be blamed for it).

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+1: Great answer, although I don't think there's anything confidential. I think it's probably more that the task of centrally documenting what every Windows component/utility/driver possibly writes to the registry would be enormous, especially given the mentioned freedoms that exist for the programmers. :) –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 10 '10 at 15:52
    
@techie007: I would suppose that, for example, the registry entries having to do with Windows activation are not only quite confidential, but are also protected against access. –  harrymc Mar 10 '10 at 16:01
    
Those keys are actually well documented, as they are needed to be known when forcing a computer back into the Out Of Box Experience. There's nothing keeping you out of any parts of the registry. I would think that how they generate the values in the keys, and where how they use those values is probably where the secrecy is. –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 10 '10 at 17:23
    
@techie007: Most Windows versions mostly differ by registry entries. Registry hacks exist to "upgrade" low-priced versions. MS has watchdog services to continuously scan the registry and protect these entries against modification. And believe me that it doesn't document them. –  harrymc Mar 10 '10 at 20:46
    
@harrymc: True enough. Not surprisingly those types of keys seem to be the ones that are best documented by others' on the web. At least for that purpose. ;) I just found a good way to find lots of registry entry info at MS' site. I'm gonna stick another answer in, it's not every key, but it's plenty. :) –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 11 '10 at 16:08

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