Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for what the company calls its "power users." With this tool, users can fine-tune and customize their PC to make their experience unique.

Features like Windows key shortcut guide, FancyZones, Keyboard Manager, etc., have always made it a hit with its aficionados. However, rarely do new features excite the community in a manner the newest addition does. The latest update of PowerToys comes with a Registry Preview tool.

What does the Registry Preview Tool do?

With this utility, users can visualize and edit Windows Registry files with ease. You can also write registry changes to the Windows Registry with it. If you often work with .reg files, you'll find the tool incredibly helpful.

Previously, you could open .reg files in any text editor, but they display the contents in a simple syntax. Registry Preview, however, shows them in the style that the Registry Editor does.

The contents of the registry file will be shown in the left pane of the window in the Registry Preview like they are shown in a text editor. However, on the upper-half corner of the right pane, a visual tree representation of the registry keys in the file you're currently viewing will be present. This visual tree is similar to the one in the Registry Editor. The bottom half of the right pane will also display the key value of the specific registry key you have selected from the visual tree.

So, say that you obtained a registry file from an unknown source. Using the Registry Preview tool, you can easily view the contents of the file before letting it make any changes to the Windows Registry. Moreover, it also comes with editing capabilities.

In addition to helping you visualize and understand complex registry files, it can also help you find and fix errors in the registry files. It can come in rather handy when working with large files. So, let's see how you can get this tool.  

Get PowerToys v0.69.0

To use the Registry Preview tool, you need to be running the latest release version of PowerToys, i.e., v0.69.0. If you have PowerToys already installed on your system, you can update the tool from the app itself. If you don't have the app, you can install it from the Microsoft Store.  

Open the PowerToys app and go to 'General' from the navigation menu on the left.

Then, click the 'Open Settings' option on the right pane.

A separate General settings window will open. Under the version, click the 'Check for Updates' button. It will take a few seconds to check for an update.

Once the update is available message appears, click the 'Install' button.

You can also directly install v0.69.0 directly from GitHub. Click the link here to go to the PowerToys page on GitHub. Scroll down and download the .exe file that matches your processor, i.e., ARM64 or x64.

Then, run the .exe file once it downloads, and follow the steps on the installation wizard to complete the setup.

Using Registry Preview

Once you have the updated version of the app, you are ready to use the Registry Preview tool.

Enable Registry Preview

To use the Registry Preview tool, it should be enabled. From the navigation menu on the left of the main PowerToys window, go to 'Registry Preview'.

Then, click the 'Open Settings' button.  

From the separate settings windows that opens, turn on the toggle for 'Enable Registry Preview'.

Activating Registry Preview

Now, there are two ways to activate the Registry Preview tool when you need to use it.

You can click the 'Launch Registry Preview' option in the PowerToys window. Then, open the file in the app.

Alternatively, you can activate it from File Explorer as well. Select the .reg file(s) from Windows File Explorer and right-click on them. Then, click 'Show more options' from the context menu.

Then, click 'Preview' from the menu, and the file(s) will open in Registry Preview.

The current limit for files that you can open with Registry Preview is 10 MB. 

Using Registry Preview

Once you open a registry file in the Registry Preview utility, using the tool is easy.

You can update the contents of the file from the Registry Preview utility at any time. The visual tree on the right will also be updated automatically any time you make changes to the file content from within the app.

To open the file in Notepad, click the 'Edit File' option from the toolbar at the top. You can also use the Ctrl + E keyboard shortcut.  

If you're editing the file outside of the Registry Preview, you can reload its contents by clicking the 'Reload from file' option or by using the F10 keyboard shortcut.

If you want to save the changes you have made to the file in the Registry Preview utility to the Windows Registry, click 'Write to Registry'. The keyboard shortcut for the same is Ctrl + W.

A User Account Control (UAC) window will open; click 'Yes' to open the Windows Registry Editor. Then, in the Windows Registry Editor window, you'll need to confirm again that you want to save the changes.

Registry Preview is a powerful but easy-to-use tool to help you manage your Windows Registry. For users who often work with the Windows Registry, giving PowerToys Registry Preview a try is a must.