Fix Registry Editing Has Been Disabled By Your Administrator

Contents

1. Symptoms of the problem

When starting regedit.exe an error message like this appears:

Registry editing has been disabled by your administator; as it appears in Windows 7 and Vista
(in Windows 7 and Vista)

Registry editing has been disabled by your administator; as it appears in Windows XP
(in Windows XP)

It may also appear in localized form in non-English versions of Windows.

Registry editing from console doesn't work too:

Console registry editing has been disabled by your administator; as it appears in Windows 7 and Vista

2. True reason why are you getting Regedit Disabled by Administrator error

Usually regedit.exe is disabled by malware (virus, trojan, spyware or something like that). Malware changes some startup lists in registry in order to gain control when computer starts; and then malware cuts off user access to registry editor (in order to survive).

Even after malware is removed by antivirus, user access to registry editor may still remain disabled.

This article explains how to enable it back.

3. How to fix Regedit Disabled by Administrator error

In order to enable Windows-builtin regedit.exe, you need offline registry editor which works outside of Windows, independently of Windows, and disregards all settings and restrictions for regedit.exe.

Emergency Boot CD is a powerful toolset to fix unbootable computers and recover data from them. One of EBCD tools is an offline Registry Editor, which can make changes to the Windows Registry from the outside of Windows.

Using EBCD Registry Editor, you'll be able to change DisableRegistryTools value to 0 in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, so enable builtin registry editor in Windows.

4. Step by step guide of using EBCD to enable registry editing in Windows

1) Download EBCD and burn it to CD/DVD according to the instructions, then set up your BIOS to boot from CD. You need full EBCD version to actually write changes to the disk, but it's recommended to try demo version first to make sure  there are no hardware incompatibilities.

2) Boot from EBCD, wait until the main menu appears.
Choose "Registry Editor" in the main menu or press F4

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Main Menu

3) Wait while EBCD scans all local disks for Windows installations

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Wait for Scan

4) Choose your Windows installation from the list
    (you may ignore "Boot Partition" which is sometimes shown if Windows 7 is installed).
    Use your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard to make a choice.

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Choose Windows installation

5) Choose Registry Hive you want to edit (HKEY_USERS\User), where User is your default username in Windows.
    Use your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard to make a choice.

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Choose Registry Hive to edit

6) EBCD Registry Editor appears, as shown below:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - EBCD registry editor

7) Navigate to Software registry key with your mouse or UP, DOWN and ENTER keys on the keyboard:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software

8) Navigate to Microsoft registry key:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft

9) Navigate to Windows registry key:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows

10) Navigate to CurrentVersion registry key:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

11) Navigate to Policies registry key:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies

12) Navigate to System registry key:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

13) Enter that key and press TAB to switch to the right panel (you may also click it with a mouse):

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Registry editor changing value

14) Find the value DisableRegistryTools of type REG_DWORD and navigate to its Data.
      Use your mouse or UP/DOWN keys on the keyboard.

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - REG_DWORD value of DisableRegistryTools

15) Go to the black (editable) area with RIGHT/LEFT keys on the keyboard and press DEL key to clear the data:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Clear DisableRegistryTools=1

16) Press 0 key (zero key) on the keyboard to enter the new data:
      Make sure the screen looks like below and then press F2 and F10 to save registry hive to the disk end exit
      (demo version will say it's not able to write to the fixed disk at this point).

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Set DisableRegistryTools=0

17) Finally, in the main menu of EBCD, choose "Reboot" or press F10:

Fix Regedit Disabled with EBCD - Done

5. Questions & answers

Q: Where is HKEY_CURRENT_USER?
A: There is no "current user" logged in, because you are outside of Windows. Choose one of existing users and his/her registry hive is called HKEY_USERS\Username

Q: What if there are multiple users with disabled regedit.exe?
A: Then you need to repeat the recipe from this article multiple times, once for each user.

Q: I've set DisableRegistryTools=0 in HKEY_USERS\...\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System but regedit.exe still gives me the same error message "Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator".
A: Registry editing may be also disabled via Group Policy; in order to override it, go to HKEY_USERS\...\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Group Policy Objects\LocalUser\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System registry key and set REG_DWORD value of DisableRegistryTools to 0. If some of the keys along the path does not exist, then you may create that key(s) using F7.

Q: Can I use EBCD registry editor to change other keys and values not mentioned in this acticle?
A: Yes, EBCD registry editor has no limitations and can edit any key or value in any registry hive. Changes are held in memory until you press F2. Registry hives are strictly validated after being loaded from disk and before being written to disk, so it's a solid and safe tool to use in everyday sysadmin's work.