Reading the Windows Registry from Java without JNI

Submitted by davidc on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 02:51

Here is a class that allows you to read the Windows Registry without having to install any JNI library. It is implemented purely using introspection and will therefore compile and run on any platform. It would be possible to extend this to also write to the registry, but I didn't need this functionality. I hesistate to call this "pure Java" as it does make native calls, but it does avoid the need for external dependencies to do so.


I forget who first pointed this out to me, but the java.util.prefs.WindowsPreferences implementation contains handy native methods to read and write any registry key, not just those under Software\Java\Prefs. By evil use of introspection, one can force these to be accessible and use them to read the registry without needing to install a new JNI library.

Figuring out which methods are needed and how to use them is a simple matter of tracing the getSpi() method in WindowsPreferences. From there, one can use the Method.setAccessible() method to bypass JVM security checks and execute them through introspection.

I have not implemented the write methods as I had no need for them, but they should be equally easy to do.


Of course, this approach is pure evil*: breaking encapsulation and accessing private members is morally objectionable and liable to break under future versions. For my purposes, the requirement was not mission-critical. It works well enough and there will be no ill-effects if it fails in the future. On non-Windows platforms, or if the WindowsPreferences implementation changes, a BackingStoreException will be thrown.

However, if registry access is critical to your application, try something like JNIRegistry instead.


package net.infotrek.util;
import java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException;
import java.lang.reflect.Method;
import java.util.prefs.BackingStoreException;
import java.util.prefs.Preferences;
 * Very evil class to read from the Windows registry by breaking into the WindowsPreference
 * class methods and forcing them to be accessible.
 * <p/>
 * N.B. All access to WindowsPreferences (rather than just Preferences) must be through introspection,
 * as this class only exists on Windows platforms.
 * @author David Croft (<a href=""></a>)
 * @version $Id: 285 2009-06-18 17:48:28Z david $
@SuppressWarnings({"HardCodedStringLiteral", "StringConcatenation"})
public class WindowsRegistry
  /* Windows hives */
  public static final int HKEY_CURRENT_USER = 0x80000001;
  public static final int HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = 0x80000002;
  /* Windows security masks */
  private static final int KEY_READ = 0x20019;
  /* Constants used to interpret returns of native functions */
  private static final int NATIVE_HANDLE = 0;
  private static final int ERROR_CODE = 1;
  /* Windows error codes. */
  private static final int ERROR_SUCCESS = 0;
  private static final int ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND = 2;
  public static String getKeySz(int hive, String keyName, String valueName)
          throws BackingStoreException
    if (hive != HKEY_CURRENT_USER && hive != HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) {
      throw new IllegalArgumentException("Invalid hive " + hive);
    final Class clazz = Preferences.userRoot().getClass();
    try {
      final Method openKeyMethod = clazz.getDeclaredMethod("WindowsRegOpenKey",
              int.class, byte[].class, int.class);
      final Method closeKeyMethod = clazz.getDeclaredMethod("WindowsRegCloseKey",
      final Method queryValueMethod = clazz.getDeclaredMethod("WindowsRegQueryValueEx",
              int.class, byte[].class);
      int[] result = (int[]) openKeyMethod.invoke(null, hive, stringToByteArray(keyName), KEY_READ);
      if (result[ERROR_CODE] != ERROR_SUCCESS) {
        if (result[ERROR_CODE] == ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND) {
          throw new BackingStoreException("Not Found error opening key " + keyName);
        else {
          throw new BackingStoreException("Error " + result[ERROR_CODE] + " opening key " + keyName);
      int hKey = result[NATIVE_HANDLE];
      byte[] b = (byte[]) queryValueMethod.invoke(null, hKey, stringToByteArray(valueName));
      closeKeyMethod.invoke(null, hKey);
      if (b == null)
        return null;
        return byteArrayToString(b);
    catch (InvocationTargetException e) {
      throw new BackingStoreException(e.getCause());
    catch (NoSuchMethodException e) {
      throw new BackingStoreException(e);
    catch (IllegalAccessException e) {
      throw new BackingStoreException(e);
   * Returns this java string as a null-terminated byte array
   * @param str The string to convert
   * @return The resulting null-terminated byte array
  private static byte[] stringToByteArray(String str)
    byte[] result = new byte[str.length() + 1];
    for (int i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
      result[i] = (byte) str.charAt(i);
    result[str.length()] = 0;
    return result;
   * Converts a null-terminated byte array to java string
   * @param array The null-terminated byte array to convert
   * @return The resulting string
  private static String byteArrayToString(byte[] array)
    StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder();
    for (int i = 0; i < array.length - 1; i++) {
      result.append((char) array[i]);
    return result.toString();
  @SuppressWarnings({"UseOfSystemOutOrSystemErr", "HardcodedFileSeparator"})
  private static void testKey(int hive, String keyName, String valueName)
    String s;
    if (hive == HKEY_CURRENT_USER) System.out.print("HKCU\\");
    if (hive == HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) System.out.print("HKLM\\");
    System.out.println("  Reading: " + valueName);
    try {
      s = getKeySz(hive, keyName, valueName);
      System.out.println("    >>" + s + "<<");
    catch (BackingStoreException e) {
      System.out.println("    !!" + e.getMessage());
  @SuppressWarnings({"HardcodedFileSeparator", "DuplicateStringLiteralInspection"})
  public static void main(String args[])
    testKey(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, "SOFTWARE\\Valve\\Steam", "InstallPath");
    testKey(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, "SOFTWARE\\Valve\\Steam\\Apps\\15660", "");
    testKey(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, "SOFTWARE\\Valve\\Steam\\Apps\\22000", "");
    testKey(HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, "SOFTWARE\\Valve\\Steam\\Apps\\22010", "");


Hi, I know it's an old project.
You know if exist some command like RegQueryVal accessible in Java like your system for reading everywhere in registry ?
I need to Enumerate some subkeys in registry.
Thank you, Igor Noro

Sorry for my English