How to Unlock Secret Settings in Windows 10

By David Nield on at

The Windows registry is a sprawling, usually impenetrable settings file covering just about every aspect of the operating system and applications running on a computer. A lot of these settings are hidden from the user, but if you know what you’re doing, you can don your tweaking cap and customise Windows in a variety of ways. Here’s how to get started.

To edit the registry, type “regedit” into the search box in the taskbar and launch the application listed. It’s important to note that you carry out these edits at your own risk. While you shouldn’t run into problems with the tweaks listed below, playing around with the registry has the potential to cause Windows some serious problems.

The Regedit utility is pretty simple to use. Double-click on folders to open them or values to change them, and right-click to create new keys and values when required. It’s a good idea to make a backup of the registry before you start attempting any of these tweaks, which you can do by selecting File and then Export from the Regedit menus.


1) Enable the dark theme

How to Unlock Secret Settings in Windows 10

There’s a hidden dark theme in Windows 10. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Themes, create a Personalized key, then create a new DWORD value inside it called AppsUseLightTheme and leave the value as 0.

Repeat the process for HKEY_CURRENT_USER SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Themes and when you restart your machine the new theme appears. Delete the two AppsUseLightTheme DWORD values to go back to the light theme.


2) Speed up startup times

Windows puts a delay on any apps that boot with Windows to get you up and running with the actual OS more quickly, but you can disable this if you want. If you don’t have many apps starting with Windows then, it can shave off some seconds during the booting up process.

Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer Serialize (create the Serialize key if it doesn’t exist), create a new DWORD value called StartupDelayInMSec and set it to 0. Delete the Serialize key if you want to revert back.


3) Increase the taskbar transparency

How to Unlock Secret Settings in Windows 10

You can make the taskbar (and Start menu and Action Centre) transparent through the Personalization section of Settings, but if you want more transparency than this option gives you, there’s a registry tweak to show even more of the desktop background.

The registry key you want is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explorer Advanced. Create a UseOLEDTaskbarTransparency DWORD value inside it, and set it to 1. Delete the same DWORD value to undo the changes.


4) Disable the login image

When you reach the login screen in Windows 10, you’ll see the default hero image created by Microsoft, but you can disable this if you want to. Head to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWARE Policies Microsoft Windows System and create a new DWORD value.

Call the value DisableLogonBackgroundImage and set its value to 1. The same solid colour you’ve set for the accents elsewhere in Windows will be set on the login screen too, but How-To Geek has an excellent guide to changing this colour or adding a different image.


5) Hide OneDrive from File Explorer

How to Unlock Secret Settings in Windows 10

If you don’t make much use of OneDrive then you can hide its entry in the navigation pane with a registry tweak. The registry key you need to open is HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT CLSID {018D5C66-4533-4307-9B53-224DE2ED1FE6} (note Regedit does have a Find function).

Locate the System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree, double-click on it, and set the value to 0. This hides the OneDrive icon from the navigation pane but it’s still there on your system; go to C: Users <username> OneDrive if you need to find it again.

Thanks to Neowin, AskVG and Guiding Tech for pointing us to these tweaks.