Vicious Programmers: How to change Windows 7 Starter wallpaper?

Posted on 09/17/2010


Believe it or not – Windows wants You to stay with this wallpaper forever.

Some may laugh at this simple question –  every user of Windows knows that to change a wallpaper you just right click on the desktop to personalize it. But it is not the case with Windows 7 STARTER, they want you to admire Windows logo eternally.

Normally, I do not publish news about technicalities, but this one deserves it as it reveals the viciousness of Windows programmers, which affects an average user (means: me and – possibly –  You).

The whole thing relates to Windows 7 Starter, the limited version of Win 7 which is installed in popular netbooks – small notebooks used mainly for internet browsing and mobile working. As my circumstance forced me to get one, I believed I bought a proper, functional Windows.  And in  fact it truly IS functional and  sufficient – I believe – for netbooks. But there is no knowing why Windows decided that “simple” version of Win 7 should be deprived of a possibility of switching wallpapers and they locked it (the rumour has it that they even wanted to restrict the system to launch only three and no more applications simultaneously, certainly to make the user think of upgrading to higher versions…). The wallpaper is minimalistic and aesthetically correct, but in long term the light blue windows staring at You without any sense of humour can really become annoying.

Here is some advice on how to change Win 7 Starter wallpaper (from  a blogger who claimed to have found it here).  It worked in my and my friend’s case and it should elsewhere as it does away with a programmer’s cap. It is also easy to conduct, as it it requires only one change in the registry and a change of users’ permissions. And no additional installatons.

1. Open regedit (aka registry editor; you can access it from the Start menu by typing “regedit” in the search box…)
2. Go to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\” folder and click on it
3. On the right hand side find there are a bunch of entries. Find the key named “Wallpaper” and double click on it and put the path of the picture you want as your new wallpaper (example path is “C:\Users\Bob\Pictures\new_wallpaper.jpg”)
4. Right-click on the “Desktop” folder in regedit that you found in step 2 and click Permissions.
5. Click “Advanced”
6. Go to “Owner” tab, highlight your name in the box that says ‘Change owner to’ ( There are only two choices the other is Administrator )… once your user name is highlighted click “OK”
7. Click on “Advanced” again
8. Uncheck the button that reads “Include inheritable permissions from the object’s parent”… click “Remove” when prompted
9. Click “Add”
10. Type “Everyone” and click “OK”
11. Check Allow “Read Control” and click “OK”
12. Click “OK” again
13. Highlight “Everyone” and check to Allow “Read” and click “OK”
14. Restart Computer and enjoy new Wallpaper

Nota PO POLSKU: W przypadku polskiej wersji nazwy będą analogiczne:


allow:”Read” = Zezwalaj:”Odczyt”;

“Read Control” = Kontrola odczytu etc.

The whole story with “eternal wallpaper” is yet another example of the programmers, who – in the pursuit for money – make users’ lifes difficult. At the end they lower the image of their brand and gain nothing.

It took me more than a few hours in the web to find a proper solution that would allow me to change the wallpaper directly in the system, without installing any additional applications.

Hope that thanks to this note at least You will save some time.

UPDATE 18.10.2012 — The solution worked on my new HP mini netbook in 2012 as well. However, in step 11 I made a mistake: I ticked “Allow: full control” instead of  “read control” when dealing with Everyone group. In this case, obviously, the wallpaper did not change on rebooting, as I allowed all users to have the full control over registry values so the computer seemingly cancelled my change on rebooting. So I restarted again, changed the wallpaper path in the registry and repeated steps 11+ properly. Voila, this time it worked.

Posted in: Technicalities