Windows

Change and customize Windows 7's Logon screen wallpaper

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to change Windows 7's Logon screen wallpaper.
Editor's note: This blog post was originally published in February 2010, but it continues to be one of our most popular posts, so I thought you might want to revisit it.

While experimenting with several Microsoft Windows 7 systems recently, I spent a lot of time staring at the Logon screen. During that time, I began to think about changing the Logon screen wallpaper. Now, I have changed the Logon screen wallpaper in just about every version of Windows I've used, so I knew that there had to be a way to do so.

For example, in the April 1, 2009, blog article, "Tweak Windows Vista's Logon Screen to Meet Your Needs," I showed you how to perform this operation using a program called LogonStudio from the folks at Stardock.

However, when I began to investigate the procedure in Windows 7, I discovered that changing the Logon screen wallpaper in the newest version of the Windows operating system is easy, once you know the steps -- and you don't even need any third-party software to do it.

In order to make it easy for OEMs to customize Windows 7, Microsoft built the ability to change the Logon screen wallpaper right in to the operating system. In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to change Windows 7's Logon screen wallpaper.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

For an alternative way to customize the logon screen wallpaper, check out An awesome tool for customizing the Windows 7 Logon screen wallpaper.

A Registry tweak

The process begins with a very minor Registry tweak. Even for those who would not normally feel comfortable editing the Registry, this one's a piece of cake. To begin, click the Start button and type Regedit in the Search box. Then, select the appropriate result and press [Enter]. When you do, you'll see the User Account Control, shown in Figure A, and will need to click the Yes button. Note: Editing the Windows Registry file is not without its risks, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.

Figure A

You will encounter a UAC when you launch the Registry Editor.
Once the Registry Editor launches, locate and right-click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key and select the Find command. When you see the Find dialog box, type OEMBackground in the text box and make sure that only the Values check box is selected, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Type OEMBackground in the Find dialog box.
When the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background key opens, locate and double-click the OEMBackground value. When you see the Edit DWORD dialog box, change the value data from 0 to 1, as shown in Figure C. (If the OEMBackground value doesn't exist in the Background key, you'll need to pull down the Edit menu from that key and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value).

Figure C

Change the value data from 0 to 1.

To complete this part of the operation, click OK to close the Edit DWORD dialog box and then close the Registry Editor.

Creating folders

In the second part of the operation, you'll need to create a couple of folders. To begin, launch Windows Explorer. Then navigate to the C:\Windows\System32\Oobe folder. Once you access the Oobe folder, click the New Folder button in the Windows Explorer toolbar. You'll see a confirmation dialog box, like the one shown in Figure D. When you click Continue, the new folder will be created and you can name it info.

Figure D

When you click the New Folder button, you'll encounter a confirmation dialog box.

Then, open the info folder, click the New Folder button again, work through the confirmation dialog box, and then name the second new folder backgrounds.

Configuring the wallpaper

You can use any image that you want for your new Logon screen wallpaper. However, the image has to be in JPG format and you need to name it backgroundDefault.jpg. When you copy your file to the Windows\System32\Oobe\info\backgrounds folder, you'll encounter and will need to work through a confirmation dialog box similar to the one shown in Figure D.

Two other things to keep in mind: First, the actual file size of backgroundDefault.jpg cannot exceed 256 KB. Second, you'll want to use an image whose dimensions match the screen resolution that you are using. If you use a file whose dimensions are smaller, the image will be stretched and may appear distorted.

Altering shadows

As you know, the button and the text used to identify your user account on the Logon screen have shadows behind them to give them a 3D-like look, and these shadows work well with the default Logon screen wallpaper. Depending on what image you use for your new Logon screen wallpaper, these shadows might not work so well.

In addition to making it easy to change the Logon screen wallpaper, Microsoft also made it easy to adjust or disable the text and button shadows to accommodate your particular image.

To alter the shadows, launch the Registry Editor again as described above and access the

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI folder

Once you open the LogonUI folder, you'll create a new DWORD value called ButtonSet, as shown in Figure E. You can then configure the shadow by setting the value data to one of the following numbers:
  • 0 -- Light shadow
  • 1 -- Dark shadow
  • 2 -- No shadow

Figure E

The ButtonSet value allows you to adjust or disable the text and button shadows.

What's your take?

Now that you know how easy it is to change the Logon screen wallpaper, will you do so? 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.

TechRepublic's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista and Windows 7, including a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

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.

65 comments
reyhansyah
reyhansyah

how to change theĀ Windows 7's Logon screen wallpaper if in "oobe" folder there are not "info" folder?

PhilipAngel
PhilipAngel

Thanks a lot Mr. Greg Shultz! Its really helpuful! Your way of explaining the solution is very nice(Using proper images, steps with clearly explaining what to do & how to do... etc) I love this!

Vikingen94
Vikingen94

I followed the instructions and made sure I've done it right but when I go to the login screen it is completely black, can't even see the user icon. Does anyone now how to fix it (except by changing back)?

JewelEyedGamerGirl
JewelEyedGamerGirl

I find it has to be under 250 KB for it to work. I'm not sure why. Oh well, at least it works! :)

moloyrock
moloyrock

Sir , After doing all the procedure unable to change the background picture . then what should i do ? please tel me as soon as possible

yamipirogoeth
yamipirogoeth

I love how easy this was to implement. However, I have a question, I have a dual monitor setup...is there anyway to get the picture on both monitors?

n6pcd
n6pcd

GREAT little customization! If/when one changes the Windows theme, the DWORD value will have to be reset to 1 if one wants to maintain the custom logon screen.

jpar1322
jpar1322

I have loaded and built the Login wall paper and now everyone would like to run it as a normal background. Is this possible. I have tried to relocate the file into my screen saver location to no avail. Any possible way??

hkhanzadeh
hkhanzadeh

I do this steps but did not work for me. I am using windows 7 Ultimate I re-checked everything and no go what should I do?

PhysicsTech2
PhysicsTech2

For those of you who like to modify a lot of look an feel and other commonly modified settings in windows, please try TweakNow Powerpack 2011. Of course, you can get in trouble with this tool, but it does take a lot of effort and ignoring the prompts and warnings. It will make all of the settings shown here in an automated fashion. Lots of cool stuff to change as well.....

dengwillie
dengwillie

What / Where is the information if you do not have the OEM version? Second I am still running vista 32bit with all updates on a laptop[ul][*].www.androidwallpaper.net[/ul] What are the steps for this older program?

Sir.Gray.Knight
Sir.Gray.Knight

I like the information I have found on this site so much I actually decided to join. But I do have questions about this article. First I see you list OEM for the O.S. on this tip. What / Where is the information if you do not have the OEM version? Second I am still running vista 32bit with all updates on a laptop. What are the steps for this older program? I have found stuff on other sites, but the information is so old it refers to not being compatible with vista SP1. One other thing I heard a rumor about just adding HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background key. Is this even possible with out causing problems in a NON-OEM version?

CanvasPrints
CanvasPrints

Many thanks for this article. I have just switched back from a Mac to a PC after 3 years and it has taken me soo long to set things back up. The shop that I got the new laptop from left their company wallpaper on it so I really wanted to change it over to something with my kids on. Following your guide(to the letter!!) worked a treat. Thank you!

jessicakayla
jessicakayla

I followed all the instructions and it didn't work. The background is a jpg file, so I don't know what else to do. Thanks.

YLCloutier
YLCloutier

I followed the instructions perfectly, and that was the problem. Name the file backgroundDefault , but omit the .jpg portion. The file should already be a jpeg. It'll actually give it the name backgroundDefault.jpg.jpg if you change the name as described.

aminamy
aminamy

hey great tutorial about the background, although i followed everything exactly my logon back still wont appear... also, there was already an 'info' and 'background' folder the the oobe one which confused me. is there maybe a finishing bit that got missed from the website? all i done was close the folder after i copied my background in.

wxkebmzj
wxkebmzj

Why is the display problem in W7 IE9? Doesn't show the text completely in IE9 or Maxthon. It simply breakes the line and doesn't display the rest? Could you check this?

wxkebmzj
wxkebmzj

This works. But...be sure to follow it completely. For example I use Maxthon as browser and at the place where the registry key appears, my browser doesn't display the whole text, so I select the whole line and the next one, copy, then paste it in a run dialogue and then check the text. In my case if I wouldn't do this I would have created a OEMBackground key in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI instead of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background . So pay close attention. THIS really works!

jschlumpf
jschlumpf

After a week or two something is changing the registry entry back to 0, which brings back the Win7 background. So far it has happened twice. Any ideas on how to make this change stick?

caprihighway
caprihighway

Hi, I did exactly what was mentioned in the post but im not able to see the customized screen for some reason, could you help me telling where i might went wrong. Thanks Vardhan

BennyGett
BennyGett

Here's a stumper: now how do I take a screenshot of my awesome new login screen? Obviously "Print Screen" didn't work because W7 clears the clipboard when you log on/off. I tried using Ultra VNC, but it closes the connection when you lock the machine. Is there any way to do this without running a virtual machine and loading Windows 7 on it?

hiattech
hiattech

Thanks for posting the info. It's been a lot of fun to play with different backgrounds. I do have one question in regards to the button shadows. When a user logs in, they do the ctrl-alt-del and then get the campus agreement to which they click OK and then login. We would prefer to use a somewhat lighter background, but this makes it somewhat difficult to see the campus agreement (since it is a white text). Also, the OK and Switch User buttons are very light. I played with the Shadow options, but this only seems to change it when the button is hovered over. Is there a way to make the buttons darker in general as well as the campus agreement text. Or can we change the color of the text?

spam2
spam2

Excellent post!

goose_childs
goose_childs

UAC uses a single desktop so my second monitor turns off and needs to be restarted. Can I set UAC to use the second monitor as well?

DiaBlo-UK
DiaBlo-UK

If like me, your going to be deploying Windows 7 to a large number of different machines and configurations, you can create a number of different wallpapers and put them into the same folder, but name them the following (without the brackets): backgroundDefault.jpg background768x1280.jpg (0.6) background900x1440.jpg (0.625) background960x1280.jpg (0.75) background1024x1280.jpg (0.8) background1280x1024.jpg (1.25) background1024x768.jpg (1.33-) background1280x960.jpg (1.33-) background1600x1200.jpg (1.33-) background1440x900.jpg (1.6) background1920x1200.jpg (1.6) background1280x768.jpg (1.66-) background1360x768.jpg (1.770833-) Windows will then find your current configuration using calls to GetSystemMetrics. These values are used in the computation of the screen width (w)/height (h) ratio. For example, my desktop resolution is 1920x1200. The ratio, computed by the division of w/h, is 1.6:1. The backgroundDefault.jpg image is loaded and stretched-to-fit when a resolution/ratio-specific background cannot be found. The other resolution/ratio-specific files are self-explanatory. If the background cannot be loaded (e.g. image physically too large, incorrect ratio, etc.), the default SKU-based image is loaded from imagesres.dll.

vickesman
vickesman

Nice article. Now changing the Windows 7 login screen has never been easier. Could you please write something on how to change the Windows 7 boot screen.

dlcomell
dlcomell

I have Skin Studio, Window Blinds and Logon Studio. Well worth the money and no need to edit the registry. For under $20.00 I can change the Logon in seconds. Now if someone could come up with a way to change the boot screen I would love that.

Pcobiwan
Pcobiwan

I run Windows 7 64 bit. So far that Value does not exist in my registry. I backed up the registry, added the key as discussed and voila! I'm in love! I have some really nice images from an online 3D graphics source and some of his older work is small enough to work - and correctly sized for my 1920x1280 resolution :)

Guts666
Guts666

I just did it as he wrote it, I just followed the steps. Neat.

llwillia
llwillia

I wonder if there is a way to do this in the MDT tool?

dedunn_ksu
dedunn_ksu

Our State has implemented tighter security protocols. One of them is to put a warning of improper use in the logon page. We have already figured this out and are implementing it as we get to the over 2500 computers within our organization.

Dave Gregson
Dave Gregson

Ok, so i don;t have an OEM version. So how can i do this? (I cannot find the OEMBackground value in the registry)

deICERAY
deICERAY

So that totally did not work - instead I now get a snail's pace bootup where every desktop icon draws itself slowly. And no wall paper change in the boot screen; there is a "background.bmp" file that is Untouchable in the System32 oobe folder that is the boot screen. You need permission from the TrustedInstaller to change it. So now I will try rolling back to undo the damage. This is a WIN7 pro clean install on a AMD quadcore system.

brian
brian

"256 KB? Oh that should be enough for anybody." LOL... Sound familiar?

n4aof
n4aof

Apparently the author never considered that a tweak which involved manually editing the registry and creating folders would be attempted by someone who had Windows configured to not display file types and who did not know how to rename a file.

jschlumpf
jschlumpf

It looks like the registry value is being changed when I change the display theme. Once the theme is changed and I reboot the computer, the registry value is back to 0.

n4aof
n4aof

If you had done EXACTLY what was mentioned in the post, it would have worked unless you are using a company computer with group policies that prevent making those changes. Where you went wrong is simply that you did NOT do exactly what was listed in the post. -- if you want to try it again, I recommend printing out a copy of the steps then following them exactly.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Go future primitive and use the old-skool method. Be sure to minimize glare and then take a picture!

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Install the OS the way you want. Remove things you don't need. Set basic local settings. Add the company logo to the startup screen. Run Sysprep /generalize. Then use DISM to capture an image of the install. The resulting image can be deployed with MDT to other computers.

seanferd
seanferd

If it isn't there, create it, as stated.

seanferd
seanferd

And yes, you will have to take whatever measures necessary to "own" that file.

N4AOF
N4AOF

...Because when you tell Windows to use a theme, you are telling it to use a whole group of pre-defined settings, which undoubtedly includes using the theme's default logon screen graphic.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Probably you can just create your own ADM file and then copied over the required file(s) to the folder [which you'll need to create]. If you are using the OEM image [Dell, HP, ...], you don't need to do anything as everything has been done except copying over your file(s).

jvennix
jvennix

I had the problem with the background changing back also. You can stop it from doing that by using group policy and enable use custom logon screen.

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