1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

How To Delete Registry Keys in Windows XP


Delete key on a computer keyboard
Goldmund Lukic/E+/Getty Images

Sometimes, to troubleshoot a problem or to complete a "registry hack," you may need to delete a registry key from the Windows XP Registry.

Assuming you know the location of the registry key in the Windows Registry, removing a registry key is a snap.

However, considering how important and sensitive the registry is to the operation of Windows XP, be sure to follow these steps exactly!

Follow this easy guide to delete a registry key in the Windows XP Registry.

Note: The steps below require working with the Windows Registry. Making changes other than the ones described below could cause system problems.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Deleting Windows Registry keys in Windows XP usually takes less than 10 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Click on Start and then Run....

  2. In the text box in the Run window, type regedit and click OK. The Registry Editor program will open.

  3. Using the + icon, navigate down through the registry key branches until you reach the subkey (the folder on the left) that you're wanting to delete, or the subkey that contains the value (on the right) you're wanting to delete.

  4. Backup the registry key you're about to delete. As sure as you may be that removing this particular key or value will get you the results you're after, it's always a good idea to create a backup just in case you need to restore the information back to the Windows Registry later.

  5. If you're deleting the registry subkey, make sure it's selected on the left. If you're deleting a specific registry value, make sure it's selected on the right.

  6. With the subkey or value selected, choose Edit and then Delete from the Registry Editor menu.

  7. If you're deleting an entire subkey on the left, you'll be prompted with this Confirm Key Delete message:

    Are you sure you want to delete this key and all of its subkeys?

    If you're deleting one or more individual values on the right, you'll be prompted with this Confirm Value Delete message:

    Are you sure you want to permanently delete this value?

  8. No matter the confirmation message, click on the Yes button to remove the key or value.

    Note: Changes in the Windows XP Registry are made immediately. There are no Save or Undo options like you may be used to in other programs.

  9. Close Registry Editor.

  10. Restart your computer. Depending on the keys or values you may have removed, you may need to restart to see the changes take effect in Windows XP or in another program.

  11. If deleting the registry key or value didn't do what you expected it to do, you can always restore the registry key using the backup you created in Step 4.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.