Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Normally double clicking on a .reg file will add its contents to the registry. If not, there are other ways, including re-enabling that functionality.
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.
"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.
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 Import
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 C:\Windows)
Make sure that Always use the selected program to open this kind of file is checked
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.