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13 Best Windows 11 Registry Hacks and Tweaks

The first thing we usually do after getting a new PC is to tune its settings to our needs. Another way to make subtle changes to a Windows PC is to use Registry tweaks. However, there are more refined ways to tweak Windows Registry is home to all basic and sensitive settings of the OS. By tweaking the Registry editor, you can not only improve the performance of your Windows 11 PC but also enable or disable certain features and customize different UI elements. In this article, we’ll check out some of the best Windows 11 Registry hacks and tweaks to get the best out of your computer.

In case you got a PC running Windows 10, don’t forget to check out these 17 Windows 10 Registry tweaks and hacks to customize it.

Warning: The Windows 11 Registry hacks and tweaks mentioned in this article have been tested and working on a PC running Windows 11 Home Single Language version 21H2. Since the Registry Editor is the most sensitive part of the OS taking things into your hands might lead to unexpected results. Therefore, you are advised to follow the Windows Registry tips carefully and take a manual backup of the Registry. Additionally, you should also create a system restore point as a precaution.

To back up your Registry settings, open the Registry Editor and click on File > Export.

Assign a name to the backup file, and save it to your preferred location by clicking the Save button.save registry editor settings backup

Now that you have saved the backup of your Registry Editor setup, it’s time to explore the Windows 11 Registry hacks and tweaks to experience the next level of customization on your PC.

1. Revert to Windows 10-Style Context Menu

While Windows 10 had a less visually pleasing but more straightforward context menu, Windows 11 hides several commonly used options under Show more options. Personally, I prefer the good old context menu and if you agree with me, there’s a little registry hack that can bring back the old context menu. Once you tweak the Registry as described below, you’ll get rid of the Windows 11 context menu.

  1. Open the Registry Editor and navigate to the following path. Alternatively, you can also paste the following address into the address bar of the Registry Editor window and press the Enter key to get to that location.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID
  2. Right-click on CLSID and select New > Key.
  3. When the new key is created, rename it to {86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}. Now right-click on this new-created key and select New > Key.
  4. Assign InprocServer32 as the name of this new entry as shown above. Now, double-click on the (Default) entry in the right-hand pane. Make sure you do not make any changes in the Edit String window and click on the OK button. This step is mandatory otherwise the trick won’t work.
  5. That’s it! All you need to do is to restart your PC so that the changes you made can come into effect. Once your computer starts up, you can enjoy the Windows 1-style old context menu on your Windows 11 PC.

2. Add an App to the Windows 11 Context Menu

There are some programs or apps that we frequently use. Wouldn’t it be better if we could add those programs to the context menu in Windows 11? Thankfully,

There is another cool Registry hack using which you can add an app shortcut to the desktop context menu. The trick works well in Windows 10 and 11. Besides this registry hack, there are some more ways to customize the Windows 10 context menu as well.

  1. Open the Registry Editor and go to:
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell
  2. Right-click on ‘shell‘ and chose New > Key.
  3. It’s time to assign the newly-created entry a name. Please note that the name you give to it must correspond with the name of the app. For instance, if you want to add a Chrome browser shortcut to the context menu, name it “Chrome”. In my case, I’m going to add the Notepad app to my Windows 11 context menu.
  4. Now, right-click on the Notepad key you just created and again choose New > Key.
  5. When the new key is created under Notepad, rename it to ‘command‘.
  6. Then double-click on the (Default) key in the right-hand pane and paste the full path of the app you want to add in the Value data field as shown below. To learn 7 ways to copy the full path of a file in Windows, follow our detailed tutorial. Anyway, navigate to ‘C:\Windows\SysWOW64\notepad.exe‘. Select ‘notepad.exe‘, press Shift + Right-Click, and choose the Copy as Path option from the context menu.
  7. Finally, click OK. Now, right-click on the desktop, and select Show more options > Notepad to launch the app right from the context menu.

3. Adjust the Size of Taskbar Icons to your Preference

If you find the size of icons shown on the Windows 11 taskbar is too big or too small for you, you can easily change the icon size to your liking with the following Registry hack.

  1. Go to the following path in the Registry Editor.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  2. Right-click on Advanced and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  3. When the new DWORD file is created, name it “Taskbar Si“. Then right-click on this file and select Modify.
  4. It’s time to change the Value data for this DWORD entry to 0 (small), 1 (medium or default size), or 2 (large).
  5. Having changed the value data, you can either refresh the desktop or restart your PC to see the effect.

4. Disable the Windows 11 Lock Screen

The lock screen feature was introduced with Windows 8 in August 2012 and has been there since then. It works as an extra layer of security and shows a background image along with icons like battery, messages, network, etc. Many people like it, but many people don’t. If you belong to the latter group, there’s a way to disable the lock screen on Windows 11 with a neat registry tweak. Having disabled the lock screen you can get directly to the login screen when your Windows PC restarts.

Follow the steps given below to disable the Windows 11 lock screen.

  1. Launch the Registry Editor and go to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  2. Right-click on the Windows key and choose New > Key.
  3. Assign “Personalization” as the name of this new key.
  4. Now, right-click on Personalization and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. When the DWORD file is created, rename it to NoLockScreen.
  6. Next, right-click on NoLockScreen and select the Modify options. Alternatively, you can just double-click this file to modify its value.
  7. Type 1 in the Value data field, to disable the Windows lock screen and click on the OK button.
  8. That’s it! You have successfully disabled the lock screen on your Windows 11 PC. In case you want to enable it later, just change the Value data to 0.

7. Change the Icon Spacing on the Desktop

Windows 11 is visually more appealing than Windows 10. If you want to enhance the cleanliness of your desktop, you can try increasing the spacing between the icons. If you have lots of icons on the desktop, you can try decreasing the space between icons to make your desktop cleaner. Whether you want to increase or decrease the icon spacing on your desktop, the following registry hack will help you do that.

  1. Open the Registry Editor, and navigate to the following location.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics
  2. Click on the WindowMetrics key to select it and look for 2 entries named IconSpacing and IconVerticalSpacing in the right-hand pane. While IconSpacing is responsible for horizontal spacing, the value of IconVerticalSpacing controls the vertical spacing between desktop icons in Windows 11.
  3. Now, right-click on IconSpacing and select the Modify option. By default, the horizontal and vertical spacing value for desktop icons is -1125. You can decrease or increase this value to increase or decrease the spacing of the icons. Similarly, you can change the vertical spacing between icons by changing the value for IconVerticalSpacing.

8. Make Your Windows 11 PC Shutdown Faster

When it comes to starting or shutdown time, Windows 11 is much faster than Windows 10. The OS takes some time before it properly starts or shuts down. The OS requires this time to close the ongoing background processes and save application data. If the data is not saved before the PC shuts down, you may lose data, and the app functions may get corrupted. If you are one who closes all running applications before shutting down your PC, there’s a little registry tweak that can help you make your PC shut down faster.

  1. Open the Registry Editor and go to the following location.
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
  2. Click on the Control key and look for the WaitToKillServiceTimeout entry in the right-hand pane.
  3. Right-click on WaitToKillServiceTimeout and select Modify. By default, the wait time for killing processes is 5000. You can change this value to 1500 or 2000 to speed up the shutdown on Windows 11 PC.

9. Move the Taskbar to Left, Right, Top, or Bottom

For some reason, I always prefer to keep the Taskbar to the top edge of my computer’s display. However, after getting a new PC running Windows 11 out of the box, I was forced to live with the taskbar on the bottom position. While Windows 11 lets you align the taskbar app icons to the left and center, it does not let you move the whole taskbar to the right, left, or top of the screen. Luckily, I came across a registry hack that makes it possible to change the taskbar position to any of the four edges of the screen.

  1. Open the Registry Editor and navigate to the location mentioned below. You can also paste the path in the Registry Editor address bar and press the Enter key to jump directly to the StuckRects3 entry.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StuckRects3
  2. Double-click on the Settings binary file in the right-hand pane. A new window will open showing its properties.
  3. You’ll see 7 entries listed under the value data field. The 5th value in the 00000008 row is set to 03 by default which is the value for the bottom position of the taskbar. Below is the list of codes for the left, right, top, and bottom positions.
    00 - Left 
    01 - Top 
    02 - Right 
    03 - Bottom
  4. Double-click on 03 in the ‘00000008‘ row and replace its value with any of the values mentioned above depending on your preference. For instance, type 01 if you want to move the Windows 11 taskbar to the top position.
  5. Having made the change, click on the OK button. Close the Registry Editor.
  6.  Now, you need to give one final touch by restarting Windows Explorer. This is required for the changes to apply. There are several methods to restart Windows Explorer. We’ll check out 2 of them below.
  7. Press the Win + X or Alt + Ctrl + Delete buttons at the same time and select Task Manager.
  8. Select Windows Explorer from the list of apps and processes and click on the Restart button. You can also access the Restart option by right-clicking Windows Explorer.
  9. Alternatively, you can also kill the Explorer.exe and restart it via the Command Prompt. Launch the Command Prompt as an administrator.
  10. Type the following command in the Command Prompt window and press the Enter key.
    taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
  11. The execution of the command will kill Explorer.exe. Now, type the command line mentioned below to start it.
    start explorer.exe

  12. That’s it! As soon as Windows Explorer restarts, the taskbar will move to your preferred side of your Windows 11 desktop.

Disable Bing in the Start Menu

Microsoft integrates its own search engine Bing into the Windows Start Menu and Windows 11 is not an exception. Whenever you search for a file, image, or document, you’ll also see search suggestions from Bing. If you don’t like that, there’s no way to disable Bing in the Start Menu from Settings. However, if you opt for the Registry Editor hack given below, you are not out of luck.

  1.  Navigate to the following location in the Registry Editor.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  2. Right-click on the Windows key and select New > Key.
  3. When the new key is created, rename it as “Explorer“.
  4. Now, right-click on Explorer and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Doing so will create a new DWORD entry in the right-hand pane. Assign “DisableSearchBoxSuggestions” as a name to this file.
  6. Double-click DisableSearchBoxSuggestions and change the Value Data from ‘0‘ to ‘1‘ as shown below.
  7. Finally, click on the OK button to save the changes. The Bing search feature will be disabled from the Start Menu when you restart your PC.

Restore Windows Photo Viewer

With the Windows 10 update, Microsoft introduced the Photos app which replaced the Photo Viewer app as the default app to open image files. The good thing is that the Photo Viewer app is still present in the OS but remains disabled by default. In case you want to use it, you can restore the old app with the following registry hack.

  1. Open the Notepad app. To do so, click on the Windows icon in the taskbar, type “notepad” in the search box, and click on Notepad.
  2. Now, copy the following snippet and paste it into the Notepad file.
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.bmp]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.gif]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.ico]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.jpeg]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.jpg]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\.png]
    @="PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.gif\OpenWithProgids]
    "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"=hex(0):
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.ico\OpenWithProgids]
    "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"=hex(0):
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.jpeg\OpenWithProgids]
    "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"=hex(0):
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.bmp\OpenWithProgids]
    "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"=hex(0):
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.jpg\OpenWithProgids]
    "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff"=hex(0):
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.png\OpenWithProgids]
  3. After that, click on the File tab and select the Save as option.
  4. Assign “restore_photo_viewer_win_11” as the name of this file and click on the Save button.
  5. When restore_photo_viewer_win_11.txt is saved, change the file extension from “.txt” to “.reg“.
  6. Now, double-click restore_photo_viewer_win_11.reg and select Yes when prompted. The script will tweak the Registry Editor to make it enable the Photo Viewer app.
  7. Finally, right-click on an image file, select the Open with option and select Photo Viewer from the list of apps.

13. Open the Last Opened Window in Any App

If you have multiple windows open in an app, you’ll see the thumbnails for all opened windows by hovering the mouse pointer on the app icon. There is a neat registry hack that makes the app with multiple windows open switch to the last opened window. If you want this feature in your Windows 11 PC, you can try the trick given below.

  1. Navigate to the following location the Registry Editor.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
  2. Perform a right-click while the Advanced key is selected and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  3. When the new DWORD entry is created, rename it as “LastActiveClick”.
  4. Now, double-click on LastActiveClick and replace ‘0‘ with ‘1‘ in the Value Data field.
  5. Finally, click on the OK button to save the changes and restart your PC.

We’ll add more Windows 11 registry hacks and tweaks to this article very soon.

Read Next: 250+ Windows 11 Keyboard Shortcuts (PDF)

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