Unable to Change Desktop Background in Windows 7 - Causes and Fixes
You are unable to change desktop background in Windows 7 Starter edition, as it does not permit changing the default one that comes with the pack. Windows 7 Starter edition is a stripped down version that offers very limited functionality so that you can test the OS and upgrade to full versions - such as the Windows 7 Home edition or Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise edition. The next section will talk about a tweak that helps you change the default wallpaper in Windows 7 starter edition. First, let us look at some causes that disable or gray out the options whereby you are unable to change desktop background in Windows 7, other editions.
Any update or installation of some application always makes some changes to your registry. Sometimes, they disable changing of the wallpaper. In some cases, such updates or programs may disable making changes to wallpaper in the group policy.
In the first case, where any update or program disables changing wallpaper, you can edit the registry to be able to change desktop background. Use the following steps to edit the registry:
1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog;
2. Type Regedit in the Run dialog to open the Windows 7 Registry Editor;
3. Look for the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\ActiveDesktop
4. Look for NoChangingWallpaper in the right pane. If the value is 1, it means some update or program changed the value so that you cannot change the desktop background. Right click on NoChangingWallpaper, click Modify, and change the value to 0.
5. Close the registry and reboot.
You should now be able to change the desktop background. If the value was not 1 in registry editor, it might be a group policy problem.
Windows 7 has a built-in administrator account that allows you to access all security settings unlike the normal, visible administrator accounts. It is disabled by default and you cannot see it. To enable the account, type the following in the command prompt window:
net user administrator /active:yes
Close the command prompt and logoff. You should be able to see the Administrator account. Login using this account and check the group policies (Type GPEDIT.MSC in the Run Dialog box) to see if it is blocking the change of desktop wallpaper. You will find it in the following path: User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Desktop -> Active Desktop (see Image). If you find it Disabled, select Not Configured and reboot. You can now change desktop background.
Tweak to Change Wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition
1. Open the Windows registry editor as explained in the above section;
2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop;
3. In the right pane, locate Wallpaper and double click on it. Put the path of the picture you want as your new wallpaper (example: “C:\Users\Arun\Pictures\new_wallpaper.jpg”);
4. Right-click on the Desktop option in registry editor - the one 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. Once your user name is highlighted, click OK;
7. Click on Advanced again;
8. Uncheck the button that reads Include Inheritable Permissions from the Objectʼs Parent and 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 the computer
You should now be able to change the wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition.
Important: Please create a System Restore point before using the tweak so that if anything goes wrong, you can rollback to the previous state.
This is just one of the many tweaks to change wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter edition. If you have any other tweak or idea to help people who are unable to change desktop background in Windows 7, please feel free to share it using the comments section.
This post is part of the series: Windows 7 - Problems, Tips, and Tricks
Windows 7 is one of the best and wonderful operating systems released by Microsoft. This series on Windows 7 offers you some insights into the OS and helps you with tips and tricks to overcome Windows 7 problems, including network printing and changing background in the Starter Edition.