Different applications augment or supplant Windows' Registry Editor application, which is simple. . .often to a fault. For instance, RegEdit has no mass search function; you can't find and display all instances of a given string in the Registry and see them at a glance. If you're looking for a given string, you have to iterate through each instance of it in the Registry manually, which is, at best, a major pain.
Not only does the utility RegScanner, which comes courtesy of Nir Sofer, do that very job, it also expands on it. For instance, it lets you search for any value in the Registry and display all the available instances of it in a single view, jump directly to the key in question for fast editing, and export the found results to a .REG file that can be loaded into another computer.
Like other NirSoft tools, RegScanner doesn't need to be installed; you can unpack the .ZIP file it comes in to any directory and run it from there. When you launch it, you have the option to choose which base key (for instance, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) to start the search from. A dropdown provides many common base keys, but you can type one in if you wish. The search string can be case-sensitive or -insensitive, and the match can be exact or within certain parameters. For instance, you can match against the data and the values, but not the key names themselves.
The program can also search for Unicode strings in binary values, if you're providing one as a search term, and there are other constraints for value types, the modified time of the key, and how many results to return. The finished results are returned in a grid-type list, and can be saved as a .REG file or an HTML-formatted report.
One possible drawback to the program is that it searches but doesn't replace. However, maybe that's for the best. Doing a mass search and replace in the Registry can be dangerous: It's all too easy to change something that shouldn't be changed. The same functionality could be achieved by exporting a set of search results to a .REG file, editing that and then re-importing the .REG file.
About the author:
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.
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