PC & Tech Authority - - FEATURE REGISTRY HACKS -


The April Up­date brings sub­tle trans­parency ef­fects to the Win­dows desk­top, but the taskbar re­mains fairly opaque. If you want to make it more see-through, nav­i­gate to:

HKLM\SOFT­WARE\Microsoft\ Win­dows\Cur­ren­tVer­sion\ Ex­plorer\Ad­vanced

Within this key, you should cre­ate a new DWORD value called “Use O LED Task bar Trans­parency” and set it to 1. This means that, when you next restart, the taskbar will be much more lightly tinted.


If you like to know the pre­cise time, you can up­date the clock at the bot­tom-right of the Win­dows desk­top to show sec­onds, rather than the de­fault hour-and-minute dis­play. The key you need to up­date is:

HKCU\SOFT­WARE\Microsoft\Win­dows\ Cur­ren­tVer­sion\Ex­plorer\Ad­vanced

Cre­ate a new DWORD value called “Show Sec­onds In Sys­tem Clock” and set it to 1 to en­able the sec­onds dis­play in the taskbar clock.


If you have more than one win­dow open in an ap­pli­ca­tion then click­ing on the taskbar icon will open a thumb­nail for each, al­low­ing you to click on either one to bring it to the fore. How­ever, if you pre­fer, you can tweak this be­hav­iour so that click­ing takes you straight back to which­ever win­dow was last ac­tive. As with the pre­vi­ous Reg­istry tweak, the key you need to edit is:

HKCU\SOFT­WARE\Microsoft\Win­dows\ Cur­ren­tVer­sion\Ex­plorer\Ad­vanced

Cre­ate a new DWORD called “LastAc­tiveClick” and set it to 1. You can still ac­cess the thumb­nails of other win­dows by hov­er­ing the mouse pointer over the ap­pli­ca­tion’s taskbar icon.


When you right-click on an item in the Win­dows Ex­plorer, the menus (and sub­menus) take a mo­ment to “fade in”. You can shorten this de­lay by chang­ing a value within this Reg­istry key:

HKCU\Con­trol Panel\Desk­top

The value you want is called “MenuShowDe­lay”; the de­fault is

400 mil­lisec­onds, but you’re free to re­duce it (or raise it if you wish). You can also choose to make win­dows pop up, rather than fad­ing in, by open­ing the Set­tings app, search­ing for the tog­gle la­belled “Show an­i­ma­tions in Win­dows”, and ip­ping the switch. Be warned, though – hav­ing sub­menus ap­pear in­stan­ta­neously is ac­tu­ally quite dis­tract­ing!


Win­dows’ “Aero Shake” func­tion kicks in when you pick up a win­dow by its ti­tle bar and use the mouse to lit­er­ally shake it from side to side: all other win­dows are au­to­mat­i­cally min­imised, leav­ing you to fo­cus on the one you’re hold­ing. It’s a quick and easy way to hide clut­ter, but it’s not all that use­ful – and if you like to jig­gle your mouse around it can be trig­gered by ac­ci­dent. To turn it off, nav­i­gate to:

HKCU\Soft­ware\Poli­cies\Microsoft\ Win­dows

Once there, cre­ate a new sub­key called Ex­plorer, and then, within that new key, cre­ate a DWORD called “No Win­dow Min­i­miz­ing Short­cuts ”. Set its value to 1, restart Ex­plorer, and Shake is gone.


When you shut down or restart Win­dows, the op­er­at­ing sys­tem in­structs all run­ning pro­cesses to ter­mi­nate. Some­times, though, a pro­gram won’t do that – and it might be for a good rea­son, such as an open “save le” dia­log that needs your at­ten­tion. Of­ten, though, the cause is just a badly writ­ten pro­gram that doesn’t close down promptly like it should. If you don’t like wait­ing, you can tell Win­dows to forcibly kill all pro­cesses when it’s time to restart. To do so, nav­i­gate to:

HKCU\USER\Con­trol Panel\ Desk­top

Cre­ate a new DWORD value called “Au­toEndTasks”, set it to 1 and those an­noy­ing “this app is pre­vent­ing shut­down” mes­sages should be a thing of the past. Just make sure you’ve saved your data be­fore you tell Win­dows to re­boot.


If your PC has a dis­crete graph­ics card, you’ll no­tice that when you right-click on the desk­top, a short­cut to your graph­ics driver ap­pears at the top of the con­text menu. Don’t want it there? Then kill it. The key you’re look­ing for will be one of these two, de­pend­ing on whether your GPU is from AMD or Nvidia:

HKCR\Di­rec­tory\Back­ground\ shell ex\ Con­text Menu Han­dlers\ ACE HKCR \Di­rec­tory\Back­ground\ shell ex\ Con­text Menu Han­dlers\ NvCpl Desk­top Con­text

Just delete these keys and re­boot to re­move the un­wanted menu en­tries. (You may want to back up the keys rst in case you later change your mind – or, you can al­ways get them back by re­in­stalling the driv­ers.)


By de­fault, the Win­dows 10 File Ex­plorer shows all lo­cal and net­work drives that have let­ters as­signed to them. If you want, you can hide any of these drives from This PC – while still leav­ing them ac­ces­si­ble by typ­ing their paths into the lo­ca­tion bar. To do so, nav­i­gate to this key:

HKCU\Soft­ware\Microsoft\ Win­dows\Cur­ren­tVer­sion\ Poli­cies\Ex­plorer

Next, cre­ate a new DWORD value named “NoDrives”. Now comes the slightly dif cult bit: Win­dows uses a 26-bit bi­nary code to record which drives should be hid­den, with each bit rep­re­sent­ing a let­ter from Z: to A:. So if, for ex­am­ple you wanted to hide drives A:,

B :, D: and E :, the value would be 0000000000000000000 0011011. Un­for­tu­nately, NoDrives isn’t it­self a bi­nary value, so you will have to en­ter the code in either dec­i­mal or hexa­dec­i­mal for­mat: in this case, the dec­i­mal equiv­a­lent is 27.


In pre­vi­ous ver­sions of Win­dows, you could hold down Shift while right-click­ing on a folder to see the handy op­tion to “Open Com­mand Prompt here”. In Win­dows 10 that’s changed to “Open Pow­er­shell win­dow here”. If you want to get the old-school Com­mand Prompt op­tion back, the key to edit is:

HKCR\Di­rec­tory\Back­ground\ shell\cmd

Look for a DWORD value called “Hide Based On Ve­loc­ity Id ”; to re­store the old menu op­tion, re­name it to“Show Based On Ve­loc­ity Id ”. Un­for­tu­nately this isn’t as sim­ple as it sounds, as by de­fault you don’t have per­mis­sion to edit this value.

To gain ac­cess, right-click on the “cmd” key, se­lect Per­mis­sions

“If you do make a silly mis­take, there’s no easy way to undo Reg­istry ed­its so it’s a good idea to back up”

and then click Ad­vanced. At the top of the win­dow that opens you should see that this key is owned by Trust­edIn­staller. Click the Change link next to this name to open the “Se­lect user or group” dia­log. Type in your user­name, then click OK to close this win­dow, and again to close the Ad­vanced Se­cu­rity Set­tings win­dow.

Fi­nally, once you’re back in the “Per­mis­sions for cmd” win­dow, se­lect the Ad­min­stra­tors group, tick the “Al­low” box next to “Full Con­trol” and click OK. You can now change the name of the value – phew!


Hav­ing done the above, you might pre­fer to hide the old Pow­er­Shell menu item. The key you need to edit is right next to the one we were just edit­ing, at:

HKCR\Di­rec­tory\Back­ground\ shell\Pow­er­shell

As you might be able to guess, you can hide the menu item in ques­tion by chang­ing this value from“Show Based On Ve­loc­ity Id” to “Hide Based On Ve­loc­ity Id ”. How­ever, since this key is also pro­tected, you will need to go through the ex­act same rig­ma­role as above to gain ac­cess – but by now you should be an old hand at that.

Add “Take Own­er­ship” short­cut to the Ex­plorer con­text menu

As we’ve just seen, per­mis­sions in Win­dows can be a drag if you want to get hands-on with cer­tain sys­tem func­tions. Adding an Ex­plorer short­cut can make it a lot eas­ier to take own­er­ship of spe­cific files (al­though, sadly, it doesn’t work for Reg­istry keys). To add in a short­cut, nav­i­gate to:


Now cre­ate a new sub­key within this key called “runas”, and dou­ble-click the “(De­fault)” value that is au­to­mat­i­cally cre­ated for the new key. Change its value to “Take Own­er­ship”. Once that’s done, cre­ate a new String value within the runas key called“No Work­ing Di­rec­tory” and leave its value un­set.

The next step in the process is to cre­ate a new sub­key within “runas” called “com­mand”, and again edit the “(De­fault)” value. How­ever, this time, you will need to en­ter the fol­low­ing value: cmd.exe /c take­own /f \”%1\” && ica­cls \”%1\” /grant ad­min­is­tra­tors:F

Fi­nally, we need to cre­ate a new string value in­side this key called “Iso­lat­edCom­mand”; set its value to the same cmd.exe string as above. The change should take ef­fect im­me­di­ately: when you right-click on a file, you will now see the op­tion to take own­er­ship of it, with­out hav­ing to delve into Win­dows’ se­cu­rity set­tings.


The above hack works on files, but not on en­tire fold­ers. To make it work re­cur­sively on fold­ers – which means you can easily take pos­ses­sion of hun­dreds of files at once – you should nav­i­gate to:


Fol­low the same in­struc­tions as be­fore: cre­ate a new “runas” key, change its de­fault value to “Take Own­er­ship” and cre­ate a new “NoWork­ingDirec­tory” string value. Then again, cre­ate a sub­key called “com­mand” and edit the “(De­fault)” value. This time, though, the com­mand is:

cmd.exe /c take­own /f \”%1\” /r /d y && ica­cls \”%1\” /grant ad­min­is­tra­tors:F /t

Once more, you should copy the com­mand above into a new string value called Iso­lat­edCom­mand within the “com­mand” sub­key – and you’re fin­ished.

Clean up the “Open With” con­text menu When you right-click on a file and se­lect “Open With”, you’ll see a se­lec­tion of pro­grams that have regis­tered them­selves as han­dlers for that par­tic­u­lar file­type. To re­move a par­tic­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion from this list, browse to:

HKCU\SOFT­WARE\Microsoft\Win­dows\ Cur­ren­tVer­sion\Ex­plorer\FileExts\

Here you’ll find a long list of all the dif­fer­ent file ex­ten­sions that are regis­tered on your PC. Scroll down to the one you want to edit and then ex­pand it to re­veal a sub­key called “OpenWithList”. Here you’ll see all the regis­tered han­dlers; delete any key to re­move

“If you don’t like wait­ing, you can tell Win­dows to forcibly kill all pro­cesses when it’s time to restart”

it from the con­text menu.

If you want to add pro­grams to this list, it’s safest not to try to do it through the Reg­istry: in­stead, right-click on the file in Ex­plorer, se­lect “Open With”, and then pick “Choose an­other app…” at the bot­tom of the list. Se­lect the ap­pli­ca­tion you want and hence­forth, it will be added to your con­text menu.


Move files around a lot? There’s no need to be drag­ging icons this way and that, or mess­ing around with Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. By edit­ing the Reg­istry, you can cre­ate con­tex­tual menu items that let you copy and move items with a sin­gle click. Start by nav­i­gat­ing to:

HCR\Al­lFi le sys­tem Ob­jects\ shell ex\ Con­text Menu Han­dlers

You’ll see that there’s al­ready a sub­key here called SendTo. Cre­ate a new one and call it “Copy To”. Then, edit its “(De­fault)” value and set it to “{C2FBB630-2971-11D1A18C-00C04FD75D13}” (in­clud­ing the curly brack­ets, but not the quo­ta­tion marks”). Now when you right-click on a file or folder, you’ll see a new menu item en­ti­tled “Copy to folder…” which lets you di­rectly spec­ify a des­ti­na­tion.

To cre­ate a “Move To” menu item, do ex­actly the same thing, but call the key “Move To” (ob­vi­ously) and set its de­fault value to “{C2FBB631-2971-11D1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}”.


Ex­plorer’s This PC view shows quick links to per­sonal fold­ers in its up­per pane, in­clud­ing Doc­u­ments, Down­loads and Mu­sic. Re­cent Win­dows 10 up­dates have added an­other folder named “3D Ob­jects”. It’s a fair to say that very few peo­ple will ac­tu­ally need this – but there’s no ob­vi­ous way to stop it clut­ter­ing up your workspace. For­tu­nately, you can get rid of it very easily. Just nav­i­gate to:

HKLM\SOFT­WARE\Microsoft\ Win­dows\Cur­ren­tVer­sion\ Ex­plorer\MyCom­puter\ NameS­pace

Then, look for a sub­key called “{0DB7E03F-FC29-4DC6-9020FF41B59E513A}”. It’s very likely that this will be the only one be­gin­ning with a zero, but dou­ble-check that you’ve def­i­nitely got the right one. Once you’re sure you have, delete it. Re­fresh your Ex­plorer win­dows and you will see that the use­less short­cut is gone.


OneDrive isn’t quite as use­less as the “3D Ob­jects” folder, but it’s not nec­es­sar­ily some­thing you’re go­ing to use ev­ery day – and sim­i­larly, it can’t be re­moved from Ex­plorer us­ing nor­mal meth­ods, un­less you com­pletely unin­stall it. To get rid of the per­sis­tent short­cut in the nav­i­ga­tion pane, first browse to HKCR\CLSID and scroll down the very long list of class iden­ti­fiers un­til you find “{018D5C66-4533-43079B53-224DE2ED1FE6}”. Within this key, edit the value called “Sys­tem. Is Pin ned To NameS­pace Tree ”, and change it from 1 to 0. If you’re run­ning on 64-bit Win­dows, make the same change at:

HKCR\Soft­ware\Classes\ WOW6432Node\CLSID

Fi­nally, browse to:

H KEY_ CURRENT_ USER\ Soft­ware\Microsoft\Win­dows\ Cur­ren­tVer­sion\Ex­plorer\ Desk­top\NameS­pace\

Within this key you’ll see a sub­key with the same long hexa­dec­i­mal name we re­ferred to above (start­ing {018D5C66…). Delete this too and, af­ter a re­boot, that point­less short­cut will be gone. If you still want to ac­cess your OneDrive folder, you can ac­cess it by typ­ing “OneDrive” into the lo­ca­tion bar, and cre­ate a short­cut to it wher­ever you like.


When you cre­ate a short­cut to a file, Win­dows help­fully ap­pends “– Short­cut” to the file­name. This is a lit­tle su­per­flu­ous, since there’s al­ready a lit­tle ar­row icon in the cor­ner that tells you it’s a short­cut. To change this be­hav­iour, you should nav­i­gate to:

HKCU\USER\SOFT­WARE\ Microsoft\Win­dows\ Cur­ren­tVer­sion\Ex­plorer

Now cre­ate a new bi­nary value named “link” and set it to 00 00 00 00. When you next re­boot your PC, your short­cuts should come out with the same names as the orig­i­nals.

“In the Reg­istry, you can cre­ate con­tex­tual menu items that let you copy and move items with a click”

You can change which pro­gram opens a par­tic­u­lar file type in the ex­ten­sions folder of the Reg­istry Edi­tor

Desk­top Reg­istry tweaks in­clude shut­ting Win­dows down more quickly and ad­just­ing the du­ra­tion of menu an­i­ma­tions

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