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Definition: HKEY_CURRENT_USER is one of a half-dozen or so registry hives, part of the Windows Registry. HKEY_CURRENT_USER contains configuration information for Windows and software specific to the currently logged in user.

For example, various registry values in various registry keys located under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive control user-level settings like the printers installed, desktop wallpaper, display settings, keyboard layout, mapped network drives, and more.

Many of the settings you configure within various applets in the Control Panel are stored in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER registry hive.

Here are some common registry keys you might find under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Environment
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Keyboard Layout
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Volatile Environment

Note: The registry keys located under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive on your computer may differ from the list above. The version of Windows you're running and the software you have installed both determine what keys may be present.

Since the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive is user specific, the keys and values contained in it will differ from user to user on the same computer. This is unlike most other registry hives which are global, meaning they retain the same information across all users in Windows.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER can be accessed by clicking on the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive on the left side of the Registry Editor program window.

Important: The HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive is actually just a pointer to the key located under the HKEY_USERS hive that's named the same as your security identifier. You can make changes in either location since they are one in the same.

Also Known As: HKCU

Examples: "For some reason, I couldn't remove a mapping to a network location I had setup. Since I knew the mapping was stored in the registry, I went to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Network in Registry Editor and deleted the key that contained the values for that mapping. Problem solved."

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