Are you already bored with Windows 7′s logon screen? In this post, we’ll show you how to go about changing it to your favorite family photo or wallpaper.
The easy way
We are very honest and do not make a habit of promoting our own product at the TuneUp Blog. However, in this case, I have to make an exception—TuneUp Utilities 2010 is the easiest solution to customize the logon background image. By the way, this way also works on Windows XP and Vista.
- Go to http://www.tune-up.com/download/, and download the 15-day trial of TuneUp Utilities. After installation, open up the software, and click on “Logon screen” under the “Customize Windows” section.
- To select a picture or wallpaper, click on “Create new”. To select a picture you saved on your machine, go to “Search local drives”, and use Windows Explorer to browse for the image you want. For desktop wallpapers, we’ve found that Interfacelift features some of the best you can find on the Internet. In the example below, we’ve used Tarantula Tree.
If the photo’s original size is not displayed properly, use the “Alignment” feature to try out different aspect ratios. You can also use the function “Capture pictures from camera or scanner”, to import a photo you just took and make it your new logon screen.
- Done with the selection? Click on “Save logon screen”, type in a name (see the graphic below), and hit “OK”.
- To apply the new logon screen, click on “Apply” in the Logon screen selection window and then on “OK”.
Want to try it out? Click on the Start menu, then on the small arrow next to “Shut down” and then “Lock” (or just press the Windows key and L—if you want a shortcut). You should now be all set!
The hard way
Here’s how to manually change the logon screen under Windows 7. (Note: Don’t even try to manually change the logon screen in Windows XP or Vista; it’s very complicated and risky, as it involves replacing and hacking files.)
- First, you need to prepare the photo or wallpaper you want to use, as Windows 7 is very picky about the logon screen.
Name: The picture must be named “backgroundDefault.jpg”.
Resolution: Convert the picture to the screen resolution you are using. For example, if you’re using a screen resolution of 1280×960, the photo must be at this exact resolution. To quickly change the resolution of pictures, we recommend the Windows 7 Resize Pictures Powertoy or the VSO Image Resizer.
Size: All of the images must be less than 256KB in size. This is very difficult when you are using a high-resolution background with a size of 1920×1200 or greater. You need to use a higher compression (which results in a lower picture quality), so that your image does not exceed the 256KB limit.
- Copy the “backgroundDefault.jpg” image to the “Windows\System32\oobe\backgrounds” folder.
If you don’t see this folder, go to “Organize” and “Folder and search options”. Select “View”, and check “Show hidden files, folders and drives”. Also uncheck “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)”, and click “Yes” and “OK”. If the folder “backgrounds” does not exist under “Windows\System32\oobe\”, you will need to manually create it.
- Click on the Start menu, type in “regedit”, and hit Enter. This will open up the registry editor. Go to the key “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background”, and double-click on “OEMBackground”. Type in “1″.
If one of the keys (e.g. Background) or the DWORD value, “OEMBackground”, does not exist, you will need to manually create it.
Phew! That’s it when it comes to changing the logon screen.
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