The Windows Registry Via the Command Line

There are times when you may need to make changes to the Windows Registry via the command line, scripting in Windows is one example.

In this article we will look at the command line utility Microsoft provide for this activity.

Using Reg.Exe

Microsoft provide the command line tool Reg.Exe for working with the Windows Registry for users of Windows XP/Vista/7. It comes with the following built in functions:

QUERY / ADD / DELETE / COPY / SAVE / LOAD / UNLOAD / RESTORE / COMPARE / EXPORT / IMPORT

Whilst it is beyond this article to fully explain each of these options of Reg.Exe, we can look at some common examples of each.

QUERY

The REG QUERY command allows the user to query a single key for a single value, or a range of keys for all their values. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg query /?

To display all subkeys and values under the key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ResKit\Nt\Setup on a remote computer named ABC, type:

  REG QUERY \\ABC\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ResKit\Nt\Setup /s

To display the key, value, and data for exact and case sensitive matches of SYSTEM under the HKLM root of data type REG_SZ, type:

  REG QUERY HKLM /f SYSTEM /t REG_SZ /c /e

To display all the subkeys and values of the type REG_MULTI_SZ using # as the separator, type:

  REG QUERY HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ResKit\Nt\Setup /se #

ADD

The REG ADD command allows the user to add new keys and values to the Registry. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg add /?

To add the key HKLM\Software\MyNewApp on remote computer PC2, type:

  REG ADD \\PC2\HKLM\Software\MyNewApp

To add a registry entry to HKLM\Software\MyNewApp with a value named Data of type REG_BINARY and data of fe340ead, type:

  REG ADD HKLM\Software\MyNewApp /v Data /t REG_BINARY /d fe340ead

DELETE

The REG DELETE command allows the user to remove a Registry key or value (it will remove all subkeys and values beneath the key - but will always confirm you wish to perform the deletion first.) You should perform this as an Administrator. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg delete /?

To delete the registry key Timeout and its all subkeys and values, type:

  REG DELETE HKLM\Software\MyCo\MyApp\Timeout

To delete the registry value MTU under HKLM\Software\MyCo on the computer named PC2, type:

  REG DELETE \\PC2\HKLM\Software\MyCo /v MTU

COPY

The REG COPY command allows the user to copy a single value or an entire hive from its original location to another - local or remote. This is a VERY popular command for administrators supporting Windows computers. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg copy /?

To copy all subkeys and values under the key MyApp to the key SaveMyApp, type:

  REG COPY HKLM\Software\MyCo\MyApp HKLM\Software\MyCo\SaveMyApp /s

To copy all values under the key MyCo on the computer named PC2 to the key MyCo1 on the local computer, type:

  REG COPY \\PC2\HKLM\Software\MyCo HKLM\Software\MyCo1

SAVE

The REG SAVE command allows the user to save a copy of specified Registry subkeys, entries, and values in a specified file. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg save /?

To save the hive Perk30 into the current folder as a file named MyRegHive.hiv, type:

  REG SAVE HKCU\Software\Perk30 MyRegHive.hiv

To save the hive Perk30 into the folder Backups, as a named MyRegHive.hiv, type:

  REG SAVE HKCU\Software\Perk30 C:\Backups\MyRegHive.hiv

LOAD

The REG LOAD command allows the user to write saved subkeys and entries into a different subkey in the registry - it only applies to HKLM and HKU. It is intended for use with temporary files that are used for troubleshooting or editing registry entries. (You can use this command to load an alternative Default user profile on a PC for example). To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg load /?

To load the file TempHive.hiv to the Key HKLM\TempHive, type:

  REG LOAD HKLM\TempHive TempHive.hiv

UNLOAD

The REG UNLOAD command allows the user to remove a section of the registry that was loaded using the reg load operation.. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg unload /?

To unload the hive TempHive in the file HKLM, type:

  REG UNLOAD HKLM\TempHive

RESTORE

The REG RESTORE command allows the user to write saved subkeys and entries back to the registry. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg restore /?

To restore the file named NTRKBkUp.hiv into the key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ResKit, and overwrite the existing contents of the key, type:

  REG RESTORE HKLM\Software\Microsoft\ResKit NTRKBkUp.hiv

COMPARE

The REG COMPARE command allows the user to compare specified registry subkeys or entries. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg compare /?

To compare all values under the key MyApp with all values under the key SaveMyApp, type:

  REG COMPARE HKLM\Software\MyCo\MyApp HKLM\Software\MyCo\SaveMyApp

EXPORT

The REG EXPORT command allows the user to copy the specified subkeys, entries, and values of the local computer into a file for transfer to other servers. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg export /?

To export the contents of all subkeys and values of the key MyApp to the file AppBkUp.reg, type:

  REG EXPORT HKLM\Software\MyCo\MyApp AppBkUp.reg

IMPORT

The REG IMPORT command allows the user to copy the contents of a file that contains exported registry subkeys, entries, and values into the registry of the local computer. To display the full range of parameters that can be used, type the following into the command line:  reg import /?

To import registry entries from the file named AppBkUp.reg, type:

  REG IMPORT AppBkUp.reg

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