Although the Registry is stored in multiple files on your hard disk, it is represented by a single logical hierarchical structure, similar to the folders on your hard disk. The Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) is included with Windows XP to enable you to view and manually edit the contents of the Registry.
Don't confuse the Registry with the Registry Editor. Regedit.exe is just another application; most of the access to the Registry is performed behind the scenes by the applications that you run, as well as by Windows; settings and other information are read from and written to the Registry constantly.
When you open the Registry Editor, you'll see a window divided into two panes (as shown in Figure 3-1). The left side shows a tree with folders, and the right side shows the contents of the currently selected folder. Now, these aren't really folders—it's just a convenient and familiar method of organizing and displaying the information stored in your Registry.
Figure 3-1. The Registry Editor lets you view and change the contents of the Registry
Each branch (denoted by a folder icon in the Registry Editor) is called a key. Each key can contain other keys, as well as values. Values contain the actual information stored in the Registry, and keys are used only to organize the values. Keys are shown only in the left pane; values are shown only in the right pane (unlike Windows ...