How to Change the Windows 7 Login Screen

July 10, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The various ways of customizing Windows 7 that we’ve covered in the past – such as adding desktop gadgets or changing the desktop theme – ignore a key feature, the ability to alter the logon screen background

While this is normally something you would normally see in a corporate environment, you might gain some satisfaction on a home computer or laptop by applying this change.

There are two ways in which you might make this change: the first is to take advantage of a registry setting that will allow you to specify a background image for the login screen, while the second is to employ a piece of third party software. This second method will of course be preferable for anyone who is a little reluctant to get their hands dirty in the Windows registry, with the bonus that is offers additional features.

Windows 7

Change Windows 7 Login Screen in the System Registry

This method allows you to manually change the login screen, and requires you to have already prepared your image, which should ideally be at least 800×600 pixels (although for best results find something that suits your current desktop resolution more effectively) and with a file size of less than 256 Kb; it must also be in JPEG format.

Once the image is prepared, it’s time to open up the registry editor. The quickest way to do this is by hitting WINDOWS+R and type regedit, then click OK.

With the registry editor open, browse to HKLM > Software > Microsoft > Windows > Current > Version > Authentication > Logon > UI > Background and double-click on the OEMBackground key. If you don’t see this key, right-click in the right-hand pane and create a new DWORD, giving it the name OEMBackground.  Whether the key exists already or you are creating it, the value must b set to 1.

The next step is to copy your image into the correct folder. Copy and paste the followinf string into the search field in the Start menu to open the relevant folder:

%windir%/system32/oobe/info/backgrounds

Next, simply paste your background image into this folder, and rename it to backgroundDefault.jpg.

You can then logout or restart Windows to see the results!

Logon Screen Rotator

If all of the above seems a little daunting, however, there is a very useful alternative in the shape of Logon Screen Rotator, available from www.lukepaynesoftware.com/lsrotator.

Once downloaded and installed (the software requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1) you will be able to use the software to easily set up a new login screen background.

Additionally, this utility will also enable you to create a library of images that can be displayed at random each time the login screen is displayed.

Clearly this is a pretty useful function, and we’ll be looking at Logon Screen Rotator in more depth very soon.

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