Here is how you change the login background in Windows 7 without using 3rd party programs or editing the registry by hand.
First we begin by opening the “Local Group Policy Editor” by going to Start -> Run -> “gpedit.msc”
Once there we expand to “Computer Configuration” -> “Administrative Template”s -> “System” -> “Logon” and edit the “Always use custom logon background” option.
We enable this option by double clicking it and selecting “Enabled” and pressing OK.
We place the image(s) we want as background(s) in the “C:\Windows\System32\oobe\info\backgrounds” folder, both the “info” and “background” folder do not exist by default and they must be created.
The image(s) must be JPEGs and be less than 256KB.
The images must be named either “backgroundDefault.jpg” or “background1024x768.jpg” where 1024×768 is the screen resolution and can be (AFAIK) anything, 800×600, 1280×720, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, etc. backgroundDefault is self explanatory, if there are no other images valid then that is used. You can place many images in the folder with different resolutions and the image named with the closest relation to actual screen resolution will be used. Click here for a small tutorial on how to resize images to use as background with a freeware tool.
The change is instant, no computer reboot should be necessary for the change to take effect.
edit: I have come across Windows 7 installation that do not have this option in the Group Policy Editor, for installations like that you need to edit the registry. Open the registry editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to “Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background”. If you see a REG_DWORD entry called “OEMBackground” then set it to 1, if it’s not there (which is more likely) you need to create it and set it as 1. The change should be instant. Try locking your session to see if it works (Windows key + L).
Jóhannes H. Laxdal is a specialized humanoid carbon unit whose field is computers and telling lousy jokes, it has a tendency to put "well" before every sentence it utters. In here you will find its ramblings about computer-related stuff.
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