Microsoft

Tweak Windows Vista's Logon screen to meet your needs

It is possible to change the configuration of the Microsoft Windows Vista Logon screen to show the text you want it to show. Greg Shultz shows you how to tweak Vista's Logon screen.

While testing some options that affect the start up and shut down speed on a Microsoft Windows Vista system recently, I spent a lot of time staring at the Logon screen. During that time, I began to wonder about the possibility of making some changes to that screen.

For example, I wondered if I could change the Logon screen wallpaper. I wondered about removing the shutdown button from the Logon screen. I also wondered if I could add a legal notice to Vista's Logon screen. While pursuing these quests, I also discovered that I could display logon statistics on the Logon screen.

Most of these Logon screen configuration screen changes could easily be made with a few registry tweaks. Changing the Logon screen wallpaper, however, requires a separate but free program. In this edition of the Windows Vista & Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to tweak Vista's Logon screen.

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

Getting started

Before you begin editing, keep in mind that the Windows Registry is vital to the operating system. Before editing the Windows Registry, you should take a few moments to back it up for safekeeping.

To begin, click the Start button, type Regedit in the Start Search box, and then press [Enter]. When you do, you'll encounter a UAC and will need to respond accordingly.

Once the Registry Editor launches, locate the following key:

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

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

Removing the shutdown button

When you are viewing the Vista Logon screen, you'll notice that there is a red shutdown button on the lower right part of the screen, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

There's a large, red shutdown button on the lower right part of the Logon screen.
To remove the shutdown button from the Logon screen, locate and double-click the shutdownwithoutlogon value. When the Edit DWORD dialog box appears, simply type 0 in the Value Data text box, as shown in Figure B, and click OK.

Figure B

To remove the shutdown button from the Logon screen, set the shutdownwithoutlogon value to 0.
The next time you see the Logon screen you'll notice that the red shutdown button is gone, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

The large, red shutdown button is gone.

(Now, if I could only figure out a way to remove the Ease of Access button from the Logon screen. Any ideas?)

Adding a legal notice to the Logon screen

If you want to back up the Vista Logon security system, you may want to add a warning message to the screen that is designed to act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of attempting unauthorized access. While this type of measure doesn't add any real protection to the system, it might be all that's needed to prevent an unauthorized user from proceeding.

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 D, and click OK.

Figure D

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 E, and click OK.

Figure E

You can type a lot of text into the legalnoticetext value.
Now when you access the Logon screen, you'll see your warning message, as shown in Figure F. Just click OK and you'll see your user icon and can continue with the logon operation.

Figure F

The legal warning message will appear on top of the Logon screen.

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 then press Enter twice. When the Edit DWORD dialog box appears, simply type 1 in the Value Data text box, as shown in Figure G, and click OK.

Figure G

If you want to be able to keep track of logons that were made on your system, set the DisplayLastLogonInfo value to 1.
Now when you select your user icon on the Logon screen, you'll see the logon statistics, as shown in Figure H. Just click OK to complete the logon operation.

Figure H

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

Changing the Logon screen wallpaper

In the old days, I remember having to delve into the registry to change the Logon screen wallpaper. Now, there's a really nice GUI program for performing this operations called LogonStudio from the folks at Stardock. There are two version of LogonStudio: one for XP and one for Vista. Make sure that you download the correct version.

When you run LogonStudio, you'll, of course, encounter a User Account Control dialog box and will need to respond accordingly. You'll then see the straightforward user interface, as shown in Figure I, and from there you can easily create your own Logon screen wallpaper.

Figure I

LogonStudio makes it very easy to change the Logon screen wallpaper.

What's your take?

I've discussed several ways in which you can tweak Vista's Logon screen. Have you tweaked the Logon screen? Are you likely to use any of these techniques? 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.

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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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