Read Registry values (to get the desktop icon size) in C#


To make using Registry methods easier, this example defines a RegistryTools class that contains static methods for interacting with the Registry. The following code shows the GetRegistryValue method.

// Get a registry value.
public static object GetRegistryValue(RegistryKey hive,
    string subkey_name, string value_name, object default_value)
    RegistryKey subkey = hive.OpenSubKey(subkey_name, false);
    object result = subkey.GetValue(value_name, default_value);
    return result;

The hive parameter indicates the part of the Registry to search. This should be something like Registry.ClassesRoot, Registry.CurrentConfig, Registry.CurrentUser, Registry.DynData, Registry.LocalMachine, or Registry.PerformanceData.

The method creates a RegistryKey object to work with a subkey inside the hive. The second parameter to OpenSubKey indicates that the method does not need write access to the subkey.

The method then uses the subkey’s GetValue method to get the desired value and returns it. Notice that the return value is a non-specific object. Different registry settings hold different data types, so the calling code is responsible for converting the object into the appropriate data type.

The example program uses the following code to display the desktop icon size.

// Get the desktop icon size.
private void btnGetSize_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    object size_string = RegistryTools.GetRegistryValue(
        @"Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics",
        "Shell Icon Size", -1);
    txtSize.Text = size_string.ToString();

This code uses the GetRegistryValue method to get the value stored in:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics\Shell Icon Size

It uses ToString to convert the non-specific object into a string and then displays it.

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3 Responses to Read Registry values (to get the desktop icon size) in C#

  1. Ron says:

    The size is always 32, even when I change the desktop view to medium icons(48×48), or large(96×96).

    Would’ve been nice if it pulled the current icon size, and not just it’s default.

    • RodStephens says:

      Yeah, I (and others) have searched for that but I haven’t found a solution. Similarly it’s not easy to figure out the display scale (e.g. 125%), at least for all scenarios.

  2. Ron says:

    Maybe we could solve this with Emgu CV. Capturing the whole desktop window, we could detect an icon from it with a slightly larger copy of it. We get the estimated size of the detected icon from the top left and bottom right of it. Having a log of all ctrl+mousewheel sizes, we would match the detected icon against the closest of them, and use that mousewheel size.

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