As a practical matter, it is difficult to remember specific hardware and software information regarding your personal computer, particularly if the PC is a few years old. The exact CPU, network adapter, or version of Windows 11 we are using is just not information most of us remember and are ready to recite when asked. Yet this is just the kind of information that is often vital for identifying your system and troubleshooting problems.
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The task of identifying systems and the hardware and software currently in use can be accomplished simply and easily with an app called BgInfo, which is part of the Sysinternals suite of utility applications freely available from Microsoft. By running BgInfo and making a few decisions on which information you would like to display, you can overlay pertinent system information on your Windows 11 desktop background image where it can be viewed at any time.
How to display updated Windows 11 system information with BgInfo
Figure A shows you a cut out of a standard Windows 11 desktop. Note that the current version is blank and devoid of system information.
Download BgInfo from the Sysinternals website and extract the contents of the ZIP file into the C:\Windows\System32 folder. You should have two new files in that folder, as shown in Figure B.
When you run BgInfo, you will be presented with a configuration screen that you can use to change the default settings, as shown in Figure C. Under most circumstances the default settings will be adequate, but you may adjust to fit your needs.
Once you are satisfied with your configuration settings, click the OK button. Now, when you look at the Windows 11 desktop, you will see your system information incorporated into your Windows 11 desktop background image, as shown in Figure D.
As an alternative to downloading BgInfo, you may run the application directly from the Sysinternals Live website. Navigate to the BgInfo page and scroll down to the link shown in Figure E. When you click it, you will run BgInfo remotely.
BgInfo can also be run from the command prompt with various parameters and switches applied. The switches allow you to save system information into a configuration file, a popup overlay or onto the Windows 11 taskbar as a user accessible icon. The available configuration parameters include:
- <path>: Specifies the name of a configuration file to use for the current session.
- /timer: Specifies the timeout value for the countdown timer, in seconds. Specifying zero will update the display without displaying the configuration dialog. Specifying 300 seconds or longer disables the timer altogether.
- /popup: Causes BGInfo to create a popup window containing the configured information without updating the desktop.
- /silent: Suppresses error messages.
- /taskbar: Causes BGInfo to place an icon in the taskbar’s status area without updating the desktop. Clicking the icon causes the configured information to appear in a popup window.
- /all: Specifies that BGInfo should change the wallpaper for any and all users currently logged in to the system.
- /log: Causes BGInfo to write errors to the specified log file instead of generating a warning dialog box.
- /rtf: Causes BGInfo to write its output text to an RTF file. All formatting information and colors are included.
By default, BgInfo replaces your current Windows 11 desktop background with a new one. However, by changing the default configuration settings, you can have BgInfo use the current background image and replace it with a version updated with your system information. The original image will still be intact on your system if you wish to change back.
Placing a shortcut to BgInfo into your Startup folder will update the Windows 11 system information every time the system is booted, so it will always display the latest information. Always available and up to date system information on your desktop could come in handy when you are trying to troubleshoot.