Aug 16, 2008

Changing the Pre-Login Background in Windows

I hate the default colors in Windows XP. Don't get me wrong, blue is a fantastic color, and I certainly don't want to offend anyone whose favorite color is blue. I just like to be different.

Changing the default color is pretty easy though. All it takes is a few changes in the registry. Of course to do that you need to be a local administrator. If you aren't a local administrator, there are ways of becoming one. The quickest way to figure out if you are a local administrator or not is to right-click on the start button. If you see "Explore All Users" as a menu option, you are an administrator. If you don't, aren't a local administrator.

For the sake of argument, and to move along with this article, lets say you are a local administrator. Click on Start > Run and type in regedit then click OK.

Before we go any further, I should probably CMA by saying that changes to the registry can seriously screw up your computer if you don't know what you are doing. Pay careful attention to these instructions, and do not deviate from them. I will not be held accountable for mistakes you make when editing the registry.

Now with that little bit of unpleasantness out of the way, lets continue. So you have the registry editor open. Now you need to browse to HKEY_USERS\Default\Control Panel.

To simply change the background color, go to HKEY_USERS\Default\Control Panel\Colors. Find the background string and double click on it. The three numbers in there are a RGB color code. You can find a list of RGB color codes here: (RGB Colors). Change the number to your corresponding color code. I like mine black, so I changed mine to 0 0 0 (All zeroes).

For an even cooler look, you can set your favorite wallpaper as the default background. The login wallpaper must be in BMP format for it to work when you boot your computer up. If you use a jpg, or gif or something else, it will only kick in after you login and log out once. To set an image as the background, go to HKEY_USERS\Default\Control Panel\Desktop. Find the wallpaper string and double click on it. Enter the full path to your wallpaper. I like to put my wallpaper in c:\windows so that it also shows up in my wallpaper list. As an example, my string says c:\windows\wallpaper.bmp.

To check if everything worked fine, simply log out. If all went well, you will see your changes right away!

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