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Editing the Windows CE Registry (and basic Tweaks)


Applies To

  • Windows CE 2.0, 2.0 SP1
  • Windows CE 2.11, 2.12 (H/PC Professional)
  • Windows CE 3.0 (H/PC 2000)


The Windows CE registry take on the same Hive structure as that of its main stream Windows counterpart. This guide looks briefly at the Windows CE registry and some simple customisation tweaks for beginners.


  • FAQ
  • Software Guide
  • Registry Tweaks


Listed below are some common questions and answers to user questions regarding Windows CE Registry

A. What happens if I remove a vital registry entry
        It is only recommended that advanced users edit the system registry. However, Windows CE will not allow you to delete an entry that it stored in ROM. Users may find that if they remove a required entry. The associated files or application may not function correctly. In this event you will need to reinstall the program.


A. How do I apply registry changes to my device
        After tweaking the CE registry. Save all work and close all active applications. Turn off the device and press the reset button to invoke a device soft reset. Any data that has not been saved will be lost once the device is reset. If you do not close all open applications, you may be presented with a active memory error when the device attempts to restart. These errors are normally fatal and will result in the loss of all data stored in RAM. This error will not affect the data in ROM.

More Info

The registry hive is the backbone of any Windows CE, or indeed Windows Operating System. The registry is usually the domain of the power user, however with Windows CE and some of its more rudimentary limitations imposed both by Microsoft and OEMs many users may find that in order to get what they want from their Handheld PC they need to investigate their problem through the registry.
The Windows CE registry is a hierarchically organised repository for system, driver and application settings. While it can be intimidating the registry is in reality very simple and for the cautious unremarkable. Windows CE's registry implementation, known as "PegReg" is very similar to the structure of any other Microsoft Win32 desktop operating system.

Unlike its main stream counterparts, Microsoft did not intend for end users to gain open access to the CE registry. The development ethos for Mobile devices was to allow the OEM to make the choices and to write the software to allow customisation at the user level. It wasn't until the consumer release of Windows CE 2.11, Handheld PC Professional that Microsoft themselves released a client side registry editor.

For more information on obtaining a registry editor see CESD-S-0082.

The system registry stores all user specific information, and all variable data related to application software installed on the device such as desktop wallpaper, the Internet home page address and so on.

As a rule. The Windows CE registry - as is similar to Microsoft desktop operating systems - is sub divided off of the Hive root element into four primary classes. The classes represent the first tier of organisation for the data stored within the labyrinth which forms the overall registry. The 4 primary areas of the Windows CE registry are:


The Classes_Root holds information on the files that CE can open or execute and what it should do when the user attempts to open one. It also contains an index of all registered Windows Classes (used throughout the registry to store application calls). Examples of this are:

  • .gif (Lossless Image File)
  • .jpg (Lossy Image File)
  • .exe (Executive Program File)
  • {000214A0-0000-0000-C000-000000000046} (The Class containing the data for all visual references to 'My Handheld PC')


Current_User contains all user information and user settings for specific applications. Your personal settings for communications, the CE environment and applications like Pocket Word.
As an example HKCU contains the information on your ActiveSync partnerships which are specific to you as a user


Local_Machine is the information store for all device specific information, such as hardware, drivers and the running parameters for the global level settings for software that you have installed (Don't get muddled up between Local_Machine and Current_User).
In similar kind to the HKCU example above, the HKLM key stores the information required by ActiveSync to assess what types of data the device is able to support Synchronisation of (e-mail, databases, PIM, files etc.)


Users is not active under most consumer Windows CE devices. It is used to specify multiple users and user configurations for a device. Inactive users will have their HKCU data stored here until they log-in, at which time it is swapped into the HKCU key. In general it will only contain data when used in conjunction with a corporate network for synchronisation and administrative purposes.

N.B. the "H" in HKEY stands for 'Hive'

Registry Tweaks

 In a change from normal articles, the following information will be demonstrating system tweaks that you can use to enhance your CE device and experiment with the registry editor that you use. Rather than providing information on a single product. 

It is recommended that you create a full registry and system backup before proceeding. HPC:Factor can not be held responsible for any data loss incurred


Disable Window Animation

This tweak will speed up the response times of the device when opening and closing applications. To change the Window Animation state:

  • Create a DWORD named Animate if it does not already exist
  • Edit the DWORD value named Animate
  • 0 - Disables Window Animation
    1 - Enables Window Animation


Speed up Pocket Internet Explorer

This tweak will improve the response time of Pocket Internet Explorer when opening large HTML documents:

  • Create a KEY named GlyphCache if it does not already exist
  • Go into GlyphCache
  • Create a DWORD named Limit if it does not already exist
  • Edit the DWORD value named Limit
  • 64000


Hide the CE Taskbar

This tweak enables or disables the Taskbar auto hide option on Windows CE. 
Note: This feature can be enabled / disabled from Settings > Taskbar on the Start Menu

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shell\
  • Create a new key named AutoHide if it does not exist
  • Go into AutoHide
  • Create a DWORD value named (Default) if it does not already exist
  • Edit the DWORD value named (Default)
  • 0 - Enable AutoHide
    1 - Disable AutoHide



Modifying the regional settings - Advanced Time

For basic regional setting modifications it is recommended that you use the Control Panel applet in order to input the correct country code settings.

This tweak allows you to control the time settings more accurately in Windows CE. It is useful if you live in a non US country and still wish to make use of having AM and PM by your taskbar clock.

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\nls\overrides
  • Edit the following Values
    STime STRING ":" - This setting allows you to modify the separator between hours and minutes, minutes and seconds
    STFmt STRING "h:mm:ss tt" - Changes the time layout or format (see below list)
    S1159 STRING "am" - Allows you to modify the AM suffix
    S2359 STRING "pm" - Allows you to modify the PM suffix

Time Format String
h - Hours 12 Hour Clock with No Leading Zero
hh - Hours 12 Hour Clock with Leading Zero
H - Hours 24 Hour Clock with No Leading Zero
HH - Hours 24 Hour Clock with Leading Zero
m - Minutes with No Leading Zero
mm - Minutes with Leading Zero
s - Seconds with No Leading Zero
Ss - Seconds with Leading Zero
t - am/PM indicator - First Letter Only
tt - am/PM indicator - First Two Letters
ttt - am/PM indicator - First Three Letters


Enable 'show file extensions' option in CE Explorer

This tweak allows you to specify whether you see the file extension (e.g. .exe, .bmp) when in windows explorer
Note: This feature can be enabled / disabled from the View > Options menu from within CE Explorer

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Explorer
  • Edit the DWORD value ShowExt
  • 0 - Hide File Extensions
    1 - Show File Extensions


Enable 'Show all files' in CE Explorer

This tweak allows you to specify whether you see all files when in windows explorer. Including  System, Read Only and Hidden files
Note: This feature can be enabled / disabled from the View > Options menu from within CE Explorer

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Explorer
  • Edit the DWORD value ViewAll
  • 0 - Hide Files
    1 - Show all files


Tips - Cleaning Up

These tweaks show you how to efficiently tidy you CE registry, increasing system speed and saving storage space.

Delete the most recently accessed Internet and Network Addresses:

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Explorer\AddressHistory
  • Delete all values except for Default

Delete the most recently entered run commands (Start > Run):

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Explorer\RunHistory
  • Delete all values except for Default

To check that an application has been properly uninstalled (advanced users only):

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Explorer
  • and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software
  • Check in all sub fields for references to applications that you have uninstalled, or deleted and remove them


Enable Plain Text Passwords

If your network client requires the use of Plain Text (Clear Text) passwords you can use this registry setting to enable it.
Note: This is not recommended as it forces Windows CE to transmit passwords unencrypted, which can be picked up by anyone monitoring network traffic. It is especially dangerous over the Internet.

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\Redir\
  • Create a DWORD value named ClearTxtPwdAllowed if it does not already exist
  • Edit the DWORD value named ClearTxtPwdAllowed
  • 1 - Enable Plain Text Passwords

To disable Plain Text passwords delete the ClearTxtPwdAllowed DWORD


Tips - Speedy Recovery

It happens to all of us. At one point or another we have a total system failure and loose everything. You decide to rebuild the device's software, settings and data from scratch rather than resorting to back-ups. These tweaks, if exported and saved on your host computer will allow you to quickly set-up features such as owner information.

Export and save, including sub sections:

Owner Information:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control\Panel\Owner

Remote Networking:


Regional Settings:


Telephony profiles (Dial Locations):

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control\Panel\Dial


Enable / Disable Animation on the Taskbar Auto Hide

This tweak enables or disables the animation on the Taskbar when set to auto hide. 
Note: This feature only works when Auto Hide is enabled

  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shell\
  • Create a new key named SlideTaskBar if it does not exist
  • Go into SlideTaskBar
  • Create a DWORD value named Default if it does not already exist
  • Edit the DWORD value named Default
  • 0 - Disable Animation
    1 - Enable Animation