21 Replies to “Fixing the Windows 10 Pre-Login Background Screen”

  1. Finally, just about the only person on the internet who actually understands the difference between the login screen and the *pre-login* screen. Awesome work figuring this out.

    Notes from my experience (for anyone else trying this):
    – In order for this to work for me, I first had to remove the img100.jpg file in C:\Windows\Web\Screen (I just renamed it img106.jpg) and then follow the steps described above. Failure to do so would cause the LockScreen_Z folder and its contents to be recreated on reboot and the sea cave image to return.
    – With no img100.jpg in C:\Windows\Web\Screen at reboot, a light blue background is all that is shown on the pre-login screen. Saving a different image as img100.jpg in this folder and rebooting would cause that image to be copied to the LockScreen_Z folder and applied to the pre-login screen (only the first time, there-after, all the steps unfortunately have to be repeated)
    – I found another copy of img100.jpg in the following folder: C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-t..nbackgrounds-client_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.10586.0_none_699c5beca3c8f021. I imagine the folder name may be different on other Windows 10 installations. Manipulating the img100.jpg file in this folder appeared to have no effect on the pre-login screen.
    – The ownership settings and permissions on the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData folder appear to be reset on each reboot. Use “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects” when modifying them to save time and hassle.

    Thanks again!

  2. Great help on the latest and greatest clean install of “Anniversary” garbage. How Microsoft is still in business is beyond me. Good Grief!

  3. Just wanted to thank you and Scott for your insight on this very annoying issue.
    So I did some addition experimenting and found that if you pre-populate the “C:\Windows\Web\Screen” folder with your own images the image named img100.jpg will get “assigned” to the pre-login screen on reboot. So now instead of eliminating that image I can use my own.
    So I made a little batch file ( must be run in an administrative command window) and will pass it on for what it is worth.
    Now if someone can get this to work at startup we can autorotate the image.
    ————– cmd script follows ———–
    C:
    CD \Windows\Web\Screen
    ren img100.jpg img99.jpg
    ren img101.jpg img100.jpg
    ren img102.jpg img101.jpg
    ren img103.jpg img102.jpg
    ren img104.jpg img103.jpg
    ren img99.jpg img104.jpg
    cd \ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows
    takeown /F SystemData /R /A /D Y
    Rem The /R makes it recursive, and the /A assigns Admin group, /D is default answer for “are you sure” prompts.
    del SystemData\S-1-5-18\ReadOnly\LockScreen_Z\*.jpg
    ————- end script ———–

  4. I took this a step further.
    I run the batch file as a scheduled task triggered by system startup, and runs under the SYSTEM account.
    Because it now runs under the system account that owns the image, the “takeown” lines can be removed. I no longer need to take ownership because I am getting the owner to do the task.

    I now get a new image each time I restart the the PC, once changed the image persists during logoff/logon and only changes after shutdown/restart, or if I choose to run the batch file manually again.

  5. Great post. I have a question: I like to delete that _Z folder using Group policy. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance

  6. Run CMD as an admin
    go to the location
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData\S-1-5-18\ReadOnly
    using CD.. (1 step back) or ex. cd Mircosoft (go into Microsoft folder)
    Type: DEL LockScreen_Z
    Folder is now empty and you can remove it manually

    When using CMD or Powershell type exactly the same letters case sensitive and everything (Best practice)

  7. OK, This problem has been bugging me forever! I tried the steps above and it didn’t work. It’s just keeps recreating the folders and file (and resetting the permissions…)

    I have 2 user accounts on my PC and – this is the really annoying thing – It only affects one of them! The other user always has a “Spotlight” image that gets auto-rotated peridoically (once every 2-3 days maybe?) and I’m stuck with the same old Cave picture at “pre-login”. Highly annoying! I dont really want to have a blank blue screen or a set of my own images – I want to understand (and then hopefully fix!) why one user gets spotlight and the other doesn’t. I want the spotlight images as well…

    Any help appreiciated.

  8. I ran into exactly the same problem as those above, I could change the image on my lock screen but not that of my sign-in screen. I managed to fix this using the steps below:

    1.) Open Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen
    2.) Set “Background” to “Windows spotlight”
    3.) Enable “Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen”
    4.) Restart your PC
    5.) Open Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen
    6.) Set “Background” to “Picture”
    7.) Pick your preferred picture

    It seems that by changing the value of “Background” to “Windows spotlight” and then back to “Picture”, Windows 10 actually decides to respect the “Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen” option.

    I now have consistent sign-in and lock screens… finally.

    Good luck!

  9. Update – So I set the ownership of the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData\S-1-5-18\ folder to my own user account and then it all went a bit haywire – the pre-login wallpaper was always just a shade of blue for all users and we kept getting the same salt plains picture from spotlight for all users no matter what I did to the permissions or files in side the child directories. Not exactly the desired fix. I tried renaming the directory with the hope thtat Windows would again recreate a new version with all the right permissions and it didn’t do it for a while. I left it for a couple of days, did the slightly different rename – this time I renamed the whole “SystemData” folder to “SystemData_Old” and rebooted and now everything is working the way I would have expected in the first place – there are different pre-login wall papers for all users.

  10. Oops!
    Can’t even see contents of SystemData folder.
    In fact, Properties > Security > Advanced says “Unable to display current owner”.
    Is there anything that can be done about that?

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