How to Edit a Registry Other Than the Current User


Whenever the Windows Registry Editor is opened, all the settings listed under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER subtree are tied to the user profile that is currently logged on. According to Microsoft Support, "the user's folders, screen colors, and Control Panel settings are stored here." If you want to edit the HKEY_CURRENT_USER settings of another user profile--different from the profile that is currently logged on--without logging out of the current account, use the "Run as" command to open the Registry Editor. Not every user account can be opened using this command, however.

  • Open "My Computer" or "Computer." For Windows XP, click "Start" and select "My Computer." Or, if you're using the classic Start Menu, double-click the "My Computer" icon located on the desktop. For Windows 7, click the Start Orb located in the lower left corner. Select "Computer."

  • Double-click the "Local Disk (C:)" drive, then double-click the "Windows" folder.

  • Scroll through the folder contents until you find the "regedit" program execution file. The folder's contents are arranged in alphabetical order.

  • Right-click on the "regedit" file and select "Run as..." from the pop-up shortcut menu. This opens the "Run As" dialog box.

  • Click "The following user" radio button.

  • Open the "User name" drop-down menu and select the user account you would like to edit the HKEY_CURRENT_USER settings for. (The selection is limited to administrator user accounts only. Unfortunately, you cannot use the "Run as" command to open a program using a limited-user account.)

  • Enter the selected account's password credentials in the "Password" box. Click "OK" to launch the Registry Editor using this alternate user account.

  • Perform your edits. To make changes to the registry that will affect this user's profile settings, expand the "HKEY_CURRENT_USER" subtree located in the left-side window panel. Here, navigate to the folder (technically referred to as a "subkey") that contains the value you would like to modify. In the right-side window panel, right-click on the value you wish to change. A shortcut menu opens. Select the type of modification you want to make. Select "Modify" from the shortcut menu if you want to modify the settings' "Value data." Or select "Modify Binary Data," "Delete" or "Rename" from the shortcut menu.

  • Close the Registry Editor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Exercise caution when making changes to the Windows registry. Improperly modifying the Windows registry can cause serious problems with the operational functioning of the Windows operating system.

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  • Photo Credit David Lees/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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