Random geekery since 2005.

Husband, father, programmer, speaker, writer, blogger, podcaster, collector, traveler, golfer.

Today is the fourth day of Diduary. You can see links to all of the published articles in the series here.

I’m not talking about the little icon that represents you in Windows 7. You can change that by going to:

Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change Your Picture

Instead, I’m talking about the big, blue image you see behind the login. The one that looks like this:

First, I’m going to show you how to manipulate your registry settings, and then I’ll show you a great freeware tool that can add some additional functionality to this activity.

Editing your registry

I always need to start this conversation with a cautionary tale: Editing your registry CAN cause your machine to malfunction, and could require as much as reinstalling your operating system, if you mess it up. So be careful.

That being said, let’s crack that registry editor open. The simple way is to press (Windows Key + R), type “regedit,” and hit Enter. The node you are looking for is here:


Once you’ve opened this up, double-click on the OEMBackground entry.

You will want to set the value to 1, instead of Zero. Once this has been changed, click OK, and make sure you just close the entire Registry Editor. No need to leave you a chance of changing something else accidentally.

Choosing your image

Now that you’ve enabled your registry settings, you can drop an image is a specific folder on your machine. If you have a traditional Windows 7 installation, you’ll find that folder here:


There’s a couple of things you need to know about the image you put in this folder, however. The first is that it has to be less than 256 KB. It won’t load if you put something bigger than that, and it will just use the default image instead.

Second, you have to give it a specific name. (I know…so many rules.) The image must be named backgroundDefault.jpg. Once you’ve added an image to the folder that meets those two criteria, go ahead and press (Windows Key + L) to see it working.

One thing you may notice is that your image looks a little stretched. That screen doesn’t have the smarts to resize images like your normal desktop does. What I’d recommend is to just make your image the same size as your screen’s resolution. In my case, it is sized 1920 x 1200. Click here to download my example login screen image.

That freeware I promised

In doing a little research for this article, I also stumbled upon a neat little application created by Luke Payne Software. It allows you to run this application in the background, and it will actually rotate your background image from a set of images you define. It’s a nice piece of free software, so give it a try, if you’d like. You can download the Logon Image Rotator here.


10 responses to “The 4th of Diduary: Did you know you can change the login screen image in Windows?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Excellent post Jeff!!! I ran into one problem with the directory. Since I did a clean install not a OEM image from Dell, I had to create the info directory and the backgrounds subdirectory to get it to work.

  2. Maggie Avatar

    very cool – I also had to create the folders. love the new image – I am not a fan of sky blue.

    1. Maggie Avatar

      Thanks again Jeff, just got a new laptop and went right to your blog for this setting:)

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