Microsoft

Adding messages to Windows 7's logon screen

With a few simple registry tweaks, you can customize the Windows 7 logon screen to include a warning message and logon statistics. This illustrated walk-through shows you how.

If you are responsible for managing Windows 7 systems that are open to the public or have multiple user accounts, you may want to add a warning message to the logon screen. You may also want to display logon statistics on the logon screen. Fortunately, doing so is easily accomplished by tweaking a couple of existing registry settings and adding a new setting.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to delve into Windows 7's registry to make the appropriate changes.

Editing the registry

It is important to keep in mind that the registry is vital to the operating system and changing it can be dangerous if you inadvertently make a mistake. As such, you should take a few moments to back up your system by creating a Restore Point as well as by creating a system image in the Backup and Restore tool. That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your system and get right back to work.

To launch the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type Regedit in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When the UAC dialog box appears, respond appropriately.

Getting started

Once the Registry Editor launches, locate the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

From this key, shown in Figure A, you'll be able to make all the following changes to the Logon screen.

Figure A

From this key, you'll be able to make all the necessary changes to the Logon screen.

The warning message

The warning message that you'll add to the Windows 7's logon screen is actually made up of two parts: the title and the message text.

To add a title to the warning message, locate and double-click the legalnoticecaption value. When the Edit DWORD dialog box appears, type the title in the Value data text box, as shown in Figure B, and click OK. As you can see, for my example I chose to use a Welcome message, but you can essentially type anything that you want for your title. You can use up to 80 characters, including spaces, for the title.

Figure B

The legalnoticecaption value allows you to specify a title for your warning message.
To add the warning message, locate and double-click the legalnoticetext value. When the Edit DWORD dialog box appears, type the warning message in the Value data text box, as shown in Figure C, and click OK. As you can see, for my example, I chose to remind users of the rules in the lab. Again, you can essentially type anything that you want for your message text. You can use up to 16,383 characters, including spaces, for the message text. However, I have never needed to use that many characters for my messages.

Figure C

You can type a lot of text into the legalnoticetext value.

Tracking logons

If you want to be able to keep track of logons that were made on your system, you can configure the Logon screen to display logon statistics. Right-click anywhere inside the System key and select New| DWORD (32-bit) Value. When the new value appears, type DisplayLastLogonInfo and press Enter twice. When the Edit DWORD dialog box appears, simply type a 1 in the Value Data text box, as shown in Figure D, and click OK.

Figure D

If you want to be able to keep track of logons that were made on your system, set the DisplayLastLogonInfo value to 1.

The new logon display

Now when you restart your system and access the logon screen, you'll see the warning message, as shown in Figure E. Just click OK and you'll see your user icon and be able to continue with the logon operation.

Figure E

The warning message will appear on top of the logon screen.
When you select your user icon on the logon screen and type your password, you'll see the logon statistics, as shown in Figure F. Just click OK to complete the logon operation, and you will immediately see the desktop as you normally would.

Figure F

After you click your user icon, you'll see the logon statistics on the logon screen.

What's your take?

Are you likely to use these techniques to add a custom message to the logon screen in Windows 7? If so, what are your circumstances and reasoning for doing so? Will you do it for work or fun? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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