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registry_key resource

Use the registry_key Chef InSpec audit resource to test key values in the Windows registry.



This resource is distributed with Chef InSpec and is automatically available for use.


This resource first became available in v1.0.0 of InSpec.


A registry_key resource block declares the item in the Windows registry, the path to a setting under that item, and then one (or more) name/value pairs to be tested.

Use a registry key name and path:

describe registry_key('Task Scheduler','HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Schedule') do
  its('Start') { should eq 2 }

Use only a registry key path:

describe registry_key('HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Schedule') do
  its('Start') { should eq 2 }

Or use a Ruby Hash:

describe registry_key({
  name: 'Task Scheduler',
  key: '\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Schedule'
}) do
  its('Start') { should eq 2 }

Registry Key Path Separators

A Windows registry key can be used as a string in Ruby code, such as when a registry key is used as the name of a recipe. In Ruby, when a registry key is enclosed in a double-quoted string (" "), the same backslash character (\) that is used to define the registry key path separator is also used in Ruby to define an escape character. Therefore, the registry key path separators must be escaped when they are enclosed in a double-quoted string. For example, the following registry key:


may be enclosed in a single-quoted string with a single backslash:


or may be enclosed in a double-quoted string with an extra backslash as an escape character:


Warning: Please make sure that you use backslashes instead of forward slashes. Forward slashes will not work for registry keys.

# The following will not work:
# describe registry_key('HKLM/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/NET Framework Setup/NDP/v4/Full/1033') do
#   its('Release') { should eq 378675 }
# end
# You should use:
describe registry_key('HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP\v4\Full\1033') do
  its('Release') { should eq 378675 }


The following examples show how to use this Chef InSpec audit resource.

Test the start time for the Schedule service

describe registry_key('Task Scheduler','HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\...\Schedule') do
  its('Start') { should eq 2 }

where 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\Schedule' is the full path to the setting.

Use a regular expression in responses

describe registry_key({
  key: 'SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion'
}) do
  its('ProductName') { should match /^[a-zA-Z0-9\(\)\s]*2012\s[rR]2[a-zA-Z0-9\(\)\s]*$/ }



The user_permissions property returns a hash containing a list of users or groups and their registry key permissions on Windows. For example:

its('user_permissions') { should cmp { "NT AUTHORITY\\SYSTEM" => "FullControl", "NT AUTHORITY\\Authenticated Users" => "ReadAndExecute", "BUILTIN\\Administrators" => "FullControl" } }

its('user_permissions') { should include "NT AUTHORITY\\SYSTEM"=>"FullControl" }


For a full list of available matchers, see our Universal Matchers page.

This resource has the following special matchers.


The children matcher return all of the child items of a registry key. A regular expression may be used to filter child items:

describe registry_key('Key Name', '\path\to\key').children(regex)

For example, to get all child items for a registry key:

describe registry_key('Task Scheduler','HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet').children do
  it { should_not eq [] }

The following example shows how find a property that may exist against multiple registry keys, and then test that property for every registry key in which that property is located:

describe registry_key({
  hive: 'HKEY_USERS'
}).children(/^S-1-5-21-[0-9]+-[0-9]+-[0-9]+-[0-9]{3,}\\Software\\Policies\\Microsoft\\Windows\\Installer/).each { |key|
    describe registry_key(key) do
      its('AlwaysInstallElevated') { should eq 'value' }


The exist matcher tests if the registry key is present:

it { should exist }


The have_property matcher tests if a property exists for a registry key:

it { should have_property 'value' }


The have_property_value matcher tests if a property value exists for a registry key:

it { should have_property_value 'value' }


The have_value matcher tests if a value exists for a registry key:

it { should have_value 'value' }


The name matcher tests the value for the specified registry setting:

its('name') { should eq 'value' }


be_inherited is a boolean matcher which returns true if a registry key has inheritance enabled, otherwise false. This matcher only works on Windows systems.

registry_key('HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop') do
  it { should be_inherited }

Warning: Any name with a dot will not work as expected: its(’explorer.exe’) { should eq ’test’ }. For details, see

# instead of:
# its('explorer.exe') { should eq 'test' }
# either use have_property_value...
it { should have_property_value('explorer.exe', :string, 'test') }

# ...or provide the name in an array
its(['explorer.exe']) { should eq 'test' }

The latter workaround may be preferable because upon failure, Chef InSpec will present the expected and actual values:

inspec> describe registry_key('HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop') do
inspec>   its(["SCRNSAVE.EXE"]) { should eq "FlyingToasters.scr" }
inspec> end

Profile: inspec-shell
Version: (not specified)

  Registry Key HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop
     ×  ["SCRNSAVE.EXE"] should eq "FlyingToasters.scr"

     expected: "FlyingToasters.scr"
          got: "scrnsave.scr"

     (compared using ==)

Test Summary: 0 successful, 1 failure, 0 skipped

have_property_value only presents a false assertion:

  Registry Key HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-20\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop
     ×  should have property value "SCRNSAVE.EXE", "FlyingToasters.scr"
     expected #has_property_value?("SCRNSAVE.EXE", "FlyingToasters.scr") to return true, got false
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