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How do I get a .reg file to install?


I’m trying to register a software program. The company sent me a regkey.reg
file that when clicked on creates a registry item that tells the program that
it’s a registered application.

When I click on the regkey.reg file, it doesn’t run, instead the file opens
in notepad.

How do I get my software registered.

There are a few ways to accomplish this, including making the “.reg”
extension do the right thing. (Though we may elect not to, for security reasons
as we’ll see in a minute.)

I also want to clear up a confusion that some readers may have – software
registration and “the registry” are two different things.

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“The registry” is just a database of information that Windows keeps. I’m
sure you’ve heard it mentioned a time or two already. Applications can keep all
sorts of information in the system registry – everything from where the
application components live, to what your most recently viewed documents have
been, to what color scheme you like to use.

Like I said, it’s a general purpose data storage location.

“Registering” your software is something else. This type of registration is
simply contacting the manufacturer of the software and letting them know that
you have their software. In many cases they then respond with some kind of
information that legitimizes your installation of their software – often
enabling features, or turning off “trial” mode.

Things get confusing because of how this is remembered: it’s placed in the
system database of information. Yes, your software registration information can
be kept in the system registry. The fact that the two words are similar is
quite coincidental.

One way that information can be placed into the registry is through text
files formatted a particular way, ending with the extension “.reg”. (This
“.reg” stands for “registry”, as in the system registry.) On most machines when
you double click on a “.reg” file, the information in it is entered into the
system registry, usually after asking if that’s what you want to do.

It’s also one unsophisticated way for hackers to mess up your system. You
might well see spam with “.reg” files attached. If you were to double click on
one of those, you would be letting the spammer put things into your system
registry – most definitely not a good idea.

“Personally, I kind of like having notepad open up .reg
files, so I can explicitly see what’s in them…”

The safe way to install a “.reg” file is as follows:

  • Click on Start and then Run…

  • Type in regedit, and then press OK

  • In regedit, click on File, and then

  • Enter the filename or otherwise locate the “.reg” file you want to enter,
    and press OK

  • The contents of that “.reg” file will be entered into the registry.

Personally, I kind of like having notepad open up .reg files, so I can
explicitly see what’s in them, and decide whether or not I want to install
them. If I decide I do, then the above steps work well.

If you’d rather make the double click action work to actually directly
install the “.reg” file:

  • Right click on the “.reg” file in Windows Explorer

  • Click on Open With…

  • Click on Registry Editor, if it’s in the list, or use the
    Browse button to locate regedit.exe (typically in

  • Make sure that Always use the selected program to open this kind of
    is checked

  • Click OK

Now, if you double click on your “.reg” file, you’ll be prompted to confirm
that you want to add the information in it into the registry. Click
OK on that, and you’re done.

Do this

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12 comments on “How do I get a .reg file to install?”

  1. I’m fairly sure you can just just right-click on the .reg file and select ‘Merge’ from the context menu. Saves going into regedit. (You can definitely do this in XP; I’m not sure about earlier versions of Windows.)

  2. This was a very good trick. The problem topic discussed was very helpful for me. Computer is such a field where we see several things in front of us in screen but never give importance to explore them.
    The sites like this one can really do some concrete lighting on the vasting of the knowledge on the unexplored topics….

  3. But what if you have two scenarios, such as…?
    1. Open With > Open With and nothing is there to use
    2. the Merge command is absent

    The only option for me is to open regedit and import the new entry. I’d like to return to its original setup.

  4. If i open registry editor screen through run command with command “regedit” but it opens in notepad i am not able to see nothing. Please give solution

  5. When trying to open regedit, there is a error message “Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator”. It is my personal PC, pls let us know how to resolve it.

  6. Today you preserved me from kicking my machine out of the window!!! Same as above: Regfile suddenly opened in notepad instead of asking if i want to merge informations into the Registry!Thanx from germany! C.

  7. sir, after reading all the information youv’e written, i try to do it. when i double click a .reg file it says ” are you sure you want to add this to the registry?” and i press ok then a message says “cannot import “file.reg”. the specified file is not a script. bla bla bla bal” that what it says, i dont know whats the problems… pls help!

  8. When I import the *.reg file, it cannot complete the import as applications are open. the next time I boot up I have to go to a previous safe configuration…

  9. i have an application”food&nutrision” in my vista. Now i have bought a new win 7, but there is an issue that the i lost the cd of the application, i want to update my windows but can not bcause i cannot delete my application.
    What to do? How do i keep my registry of application in the win 7?
    Please help!


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