Windows

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.

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.

44 comments
Metrotek
Metrotek

It's cool. I want to change the text on mine and elmininate the Microsoft stuff. I was already using Logon Studio for the graphics but I'm tired of the MS Windows Vista Home Premium stuff.

saibaba.v
saibaba.v

Need Vista Home Basic like logon screen in Vista Business

vitec
vitec

Question! I am setting up 15 computers for NEW YORK FIREMEN, is there a way to tweak the logon screen with the there FIREHOUSE Photo and the sound of there fire tones? like the old Emergence Squad 51! Jim Nickal mydogspots@aol.com Firefighter/Paramedic

JCitizen
JCitizen

and use that good old last user ID with password form box. Of course, you might as well buy Vista Business or XP Pro by then huh?

iacseb
iacseb

How can you get rid of the logon - not needed in my home, no other users to worry about. I remember getting this information a while back in a previous newsletter, but I have lost this info.

raygrimm
raygrimm

Greg, in researching this topic, I also came across a thread within mentioning the LogonStudio from StarDock. There was a lot of discussion regarding whether or not the program took up resources. The outcome of the thread ended with both sides defending whether it did or did not eat resources. I do some basic "reg" editing and simple tweaking and don't mind delving into it from that end; however, easier is sometime easier and I would like that option in this case. My question is this, what experiences do you and your others have with LogonStudio and does it slow down your system? One more question. Do you know how to add and or change some txt during Vista Ultimate?s boot? i.e. ?Good Morning?, ?Bonuses Today?, ?Happy Holidays?, etc. Thank you for your knowledge and taking time to research my questions. Best, Ray

mohsin_jml
mohsin_jml

THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO HELP ME OUT TO KNOW ABOUT ALL THIS STUFF BUT I M HAVING PROBLEM DOING same STUFF THROUGH POWERSHELL, IF TECH REPUBLIC CAN PROVIDE ME THIS INFORMATION TOO THAT WILL REALLY APPRECIABLE THANKS AGAIN

jadelise
jadelise

Suggested Caption WARNING! Unauthorized Access is Prohibited and will be met with Deadly Force. Suggested text message. All computers on this network are protected by defense Phasers set to kill intruders. This is your last warning. Please write down the name and address of your next of kin before attempting to hack this computer so we can notify them of your unfortunte demise. NOTE: If you are attempting unauthorized remote access a remote control drone will be dispatched to your location to vaporize your building. Thank You, Homeland Security.

rainbow69
rainbow69

What about the annoying Language button on the Logon Screen for Windows Vista? How does one get rid of that thing? ? ? ?

jpr75
jpr75

FYI - This registry setting will work if you login using a local user account on the PC or a domain account if the PC is joined to a Win2008 domain. If the Vista PC is a member of a Win2003 domain or earlier, and you login using a domain user account, you will receive an error about not being able to retrieve the login information and you will not be able to login.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

you mean to tell me that a simple reg hack is not all that is needed to get rid of that crapy vista login screen? I have to download a program to do it for me?

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

Thanks for the tip. Most of this can be done in Windows XP as well, same registry location. You can remove the shutdown button and add legal notice to the logon screen.

Craiglowe1993
Craiglowe1993

I have often wondered if it would be possible to edit the Windows Vista login screen to have multiple layers of security such as instead of just entering your password you would have to; *Enter password & USB Key *Enter password & Fingerprint recognition *Enter password, Fingerprint recognition & USB Key I know this is not very necessary as Windows Vista login is already secure but it's just something I have always wondered about. Thankyou for any help in advance.

MelissaTheTechie
MelissaTheTechie

All the tweaks mentioned in the article (except the logon screen wallpaper) can be done with group policy.

avasile
avasile

It manage to lock my computer since Vista did not find any logon history events. So I wasn't able to logon anymore. I had to boot under safe mode with Command Prompt so that I can edit the registry back. I will be careful before doing this.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

can be donw via a group policy within a Windows domain.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I don't know why I though your comment was so funny: "I spent a lot of time staring at the Logon screen." But at 1am; I have to laugh because I'm stuck at work and you have to have a sense of humor about that, right? Right. Anyways, you always give some cool tips and god bless you for risking your system changing registry keys, LOL! For so long; we've been brain-washed into leaving it alone or regarding the registry as something sacred. Thanks for dispelling the myths. Rock on bro! Peace.

emmertzj
emmertzj

I dont know about Your Microsoft Vista experiance yet i feel a lot or negativety here. Ans you at techrepublic have way to many errors on your pages could you fix them some time before it couses problems for the Readers!!!................ end Send Stop

sjh_vt
sjh_vt

Other than the wallpaper change, these tweaks are better handled using Group Policy Editor, rather than changing the registry manually.

Lazy.Lemming
Lazy.Lemming

You can't remove the Ease of Access button that I've ever seen, however you can disable it through either some downloadable software (I've never tried it) or by renaming %System Root%\system32\utilman.exe

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you customize the Logon screen for the PCs under your control? Have you tweaked the Logon screen? Are you likely to use any of these techniques?

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

1. Click on the Start button and type in ?netplwiz?. This will open the Advanced User Accounts menu 2. In the Users tab, highlight the account you want to login to Vista automatically with, and then untick ?must enter a username and password to use this computer? 3. Click on ?Apply?. A new window will now popup asking you to enter the password of the account you?ve just highlighted. Do this, and then click ?Ok? 4. Click ?Ok? on the Advanced User Accounts menu to finish Now, whenever you boot up, Vista will login automatically to your chosen account which is great if you are using a HTPC like me.

_Red_
_Red_

If you didnt want to use stardock then you can edit the imageres.dll located in the windows\system32 folder. Take a copy of it and work from that. You'll need a resource editor. There are loads if you google it. When you open the imageres.dll you'll see a section called IMAGE and under that there will be codes that start with 5031 down to 5043. Inside each one is the bitmap image for the logon screen. Each code represents the different screen resolutions the image needs to be saved as and has to be a bitmap. Upload your new image and save the file out and all done. You'll need to copy the file back (after backing up the original of course) and you'll need to have special permissions on that file to do it. Bear in mind that any service packs that come out may end up overwriting the file so keep a copy or redo the changes with the newer file.

bahnjee
bahnjee

Hope this turns out OK...wrote it in Word, then copied/paste here and lost formatting. Your Vista Welcome screen is contained in a file called imageres.dll. Edit this file to modify your Welcome screen without need of installing software to do it for you. 1. Take ownership of imageres.dll a. In Windows Explorer, navigate to "c:\windows\system32\imageres.dll" b. Right click the file > choose Properties c. On the Security tab, click Advanced > Owner > Edit d. Select Administrator as the new owner and OK your way back out. e. Right click the file again and choose Properties again. f. On the Security tab, click Edit, then click the Administrator entry in the list g. Click Allow and Full Control h. OK your way back out again. 2. Edit imageres.dll a. Make two copies of imageres.dll; name one imagesres.dllOLD and name the other imageres.dllNEW i. The OLD file will act as a backup and the NEW file is the one you?ll edit and save over the original b. Use a resource editor to open and edit imageres.dllNEW i. (I'm using XN Resource Editor in the following instructions) c. Open XN Resource Editor and click View > Options > Choose which parser to use > XN Resource Editor internal resource parser > OK d. File > Open > c:\windows\system32\imageres.dllNEW e. From the tree on the left, expand the Image folder and open any one of the numbered folders f. You'll see that each of these folders contains different resolutions of the Vista Welcome Screen g. Find the one that matches the desktop resolution you're using. h. Using an image editor of your choice, create a new welcome screen matching the pixel dimensions of your desktop (e.g., 1280px x 800px) i. Once your new welcome screen is prepared, select all and copy j. Switch back to XN Resource Editor and paste your new image over the existing image. k. Save and close imageres.dllNEW 3. Replace the original imageres.dll with the new one a. Reboot in Safe Mode w/Command Prompt b. At the cmd prompt, type copy imageres.dllNEW imageres.dll c. Press Enter d. Press y to confirm e. Reboot again and you should be presented with your new Welcome Screen If things don?t work out, re-edit your imageres.dll file and try again (start at step 2 above) or, replace imageres.dllOLD file over the imageres.dll (start at step 3 above, but type copy imageres.dllOLD imageres.dll instead).

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

it can do this. Some DELL Laptops have this feature.

bahnjee
bahnjee

Was easy enough to fix, but I was looking forward to the changes this should have made. Anyone got a fix?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Please tell us what errors you see on the site. We try to keep errors to a minimum.

kadu.flyer
kadu.flyer

Except that if you have anything less than Vista Ultimate, you can't access the Group Policy Editor

CameronY
CameronY

I'd like to have the following text as part of the LegalNoticeText - but how do I separate the paragraphs ?? Text wanted: " NOTICE TO USERS This computer system is the private property of XYZ Pty Ltd, whether individual, corporate or government. This laptop is for authorized use only. Users (authorized or unauthorized) have no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to your employer, to authorized site, government, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of government agencies, both domestic and foreign. By using this system, the user consents to such interception, monitoring, recording, copying, auditing, inspection, and disclosure at the discretion of such personnel or officials. Unauthorized or improper use of this system may result in civil and criminal penalties and administrative or disciplinary action, as appropriate. By continuing to use this system you indicate your awareness of and consent to these terms and conditions of use. LOG OFF IMMEDIATELY if you do not agree to the conditions stated in this warning." Cheers, Cameron

bmwpc
bmwpc

My wife and I are the only people who use our PC and although I am slightly Windows literate, she is a real newbie. What I want to eliminate is the separte "Users" listing I want there to be only one user and that it be accessible to everyone and anyone upon login and/or viewing the Directory. My Directory for "computer" shows all the regular preset folders but then shows a separate folder with my name on it. Unfortunately and probably because of my ignorance, it got set up that way plus I hate my little picture icon on the opening screen. Is there a way to make it "our" computer and show and use just one directory instead of creating separate folders for me and another for everything else. It is especially a pain when I download material and have to search if it's in "My" folder or in the General folder ie music. I realize I can sometime specify where some downloads will go but I would rather have just one big Directory not delineated by users names. Please offer your suggestions to me here or at bmwpc@cs.com. Just want to also let you know that you will be assisting a continuation of over 40 years or marital bliss if you can help. Jim in Tampa.

michael.d.golvach
michael.d.golvach

All of these tips worked very nicely. Thanks for the tips :) , Mike

bart001fr
bart001fr

Mark, I have another project for you. As you know, most computers have a camera on them. And most of the time these cameras are off and usually stay off. The project here is to turn on the camera to take a picture of the unauthorized user without his knowledge and storing it in a secure folder, so you can get evidence of tampering or attempt at such mischief. As an added possibility, see if you can do it without turning on the led witness light beside the lens. After all, you don't want to warn the burglar that his picture is being taken. Hope to read about this soon.

Craiglowe1993
Craiglowe1993

My current system is an Acer L100 but this does prove that its possible to integrate multiple layers of security, just need to find a way of doing it for my system. Anyone who has any ideas please help. Thankyou, G-Man.

Media-Ted@Juno.com
Media-Ted@Juno.com

... when I checked the boxes to show script errors, there are two upon opening just about anything you have posted in this section. With the script-error unchecked, of course, this does not happen. ...So, yes, there are script errors, but most people have ignore by default.

jsmith
jsmith

This is not true. Using Windows Vista Business Edition I am able to run gpedit.msc with no issues and make changes. Your statement may be true with Windows Vista Home Editions...not sure.

tzwick
tzwick

that would be a great program i wonder if anything is out there like that. I hope to see something soon

s31064
s31064

There are two that I've used with success in the past, Embassy Trust Suite from Wave Technologies and Utimaco Safeguard from Sophos. The Utimaco software is much more robust and can control a great many security features, but you get what you pay for; in other words, ETS is cheaper. Both provide preboot authentication using passwords, fingerprints, smartcards, or a combination of the three. Both control login to Windows in the same manner, and both have versions for XP and Vista. I'm currently testing both of them with Windows 7 RTM, and both have issues, but nothing major that won't be fixed soon. Hope this helps.

Craiglowe1993
Craiglowe1993

Does anyone have any recommendations for a 'Credential Provider'? Preferably an open source piece of software although I am willing to pay. Thankyou for any help in advance.

david
david

Vista allows extentions to the logon system by allowing the installation of 3rd party Credential Providers. Sort of like an authentication driver, it would have to be installed in your system for you to use it. Tokencodes, Fingerprint and smart card readers are examples.

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