Dealing with the Windows registry can be a harrowing experience. Not only is editing the registry potentially dangerous, but it can also be confusing.

For example, have you ever been on a registry editing expedition in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER branch and forgot the default values for the section you were changing? The next time you have a similar experience, try this: You can find the default values for most of the settings in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER branch in the HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT branch of the registry. This is the part of the registry that Windows XP uses as a template when you create new user accounts.

For example, suppose you've customized Windows Explorer's Hot Tracking Color by altering the RGB value stored in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors\HotTrackingColor subkey. But now you want to revert back to the default color.

You can track down the RGB values for the default color by navigating to the HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors\HotTrackingColor value. You can then copy the default value from this subkey and paste it into the key that you've altered. Doing this will return the settings to their original configuration.

NOTE: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before saving any changes.