How to display version information on the Windows 11 desktop

A simple hack of the Windows 11 Registry File allows you to display OS version information directly on the desktop, which can come in handy when you're troubleshooting.

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Image: IB Photography/Shutterstock

If you have gone through the Windows 11 update process or recently purchased a new PC, you will have noticed the many differences between Windows 10 and your new operating system. Opinion varies on the merits of these differences, but that is to be expected. However, what was not expected was the reversion to default of some of our favorite hacks, tweaks and tricks.

One of these reverted hacks was the display of Windows version information. With a simple tweak of the Windows Registry File, users can modify the Windows 11 desktop to permanently show the current operating system version. The Windows 11 hack is like the Windows 10 hack, but it does not survive Microsoft's update and reestablishment of default settings. We are going to change that.

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Display version information on the Windows 11 desktop

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

To get an idea of exactly what we will be changing with this edit of the Registry File, look at Figure A. As you can see, there is no version information in the lower right-hand corner of my current Windows 11 desktop.

Figure A

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To begin, start the Registry Editor by clicking the Start Menu button and typing "regedit" into the search box. From the results, select the registry editor. With the editor open, as shown in Figure B, navigate to this key:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

Figure B

b-display-version-win11-desktop.jpg

Scroll down the right-hand navigation pane until you find an entry with the name "PaintDesktopVersion," as shown in Figure C. This is the configuration key we will edit.

Figure C

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Double-click the PaintDesktopVersion item from the list, as shown in Figure D, and change the Value data box to read 1 instead of 0. Click OK, and then close the editor. To complete the process, you may have to restart your Windows 11 computer.

Figure D

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After the restart, when you look at the same lower right-hand corner of your Windows 11 desktop, as shown in Figure E, you will see detailed information about the operating system's type and version.

Figure E

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In an enterprise setting, having the version information readily available at a glance can save time when IT admins are troubleshooting or determining whether recent security updates were applied properly. However, the information can also be vital to the average user for the same purposes.

To remove the version display from the Windows 11 desktop, change the PaintDesktopVersion key value back to "zero."

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