As subject really.

I can force a wallpaper through GPO, but how can I mandate that the desktop should be black?

We have a mix of XP, Vista, and Windows 7 machines.

  • 1
    And here I thought I probably locked my workstations down more than anyone...
    – GregD
    Dec 17, 2010 at 12:48
  • it's more about having it look right against a corporate logo - best (most consistent) way so far seems to be to use a huge jpeg with the logo in the centre. Except for support.microsoft.com/kb/977944 which is just great...
    – flooble
    Dec 17, 2010 at 14:00
  • for what it's worth, it looks like that hotfix has made its way into Windows 7 SP1. May 7, 2011 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


The background image is an option already User->Policies->Admin Templates->Desktop->Desktop->Desktop Wallpaper.

The desktop color is not however, you'll need to create an ADM file an import it. Here's the file I use:

 CATEGORY "Desktop"
  CATEGORY "Custom"
   KEYNAME "Control Panel\Colors"
   POLICY "Background color"
    EXPLAIN "Allow you to control the background color of the user's desktop."
    PART "Enter the RGB values of the user's desktop background (ex: 128 128 128)" TEXT
     VALUENAME "Background"

Open notepad, pop that in, save it as something reasonable with the file extension .ADM

Open the GPO, right click Admin Templates, Add, Add..., Find the file, Close. Find the setting in User->Admin Templates->Classic Admin Temp(if on Vista or Win7)->Desktop->Custom->Background Color

Note: Since this GPO is processed after the user logs in, and after Windows sets the background color, the first time the user logs in they will default to whatever the machine's default background color is. I've never been motivated enough to write the ADM file to set the default background color, though it should be possible. In any case, the second login and forward the color will be set correctly. This is due to how MS implemented the background color setting in the registry. Also, after this GPO is removed the user will retain the color, it will not revert as with most GPO settings; again it's how MS chose to implement the setting...

  • Thanks Chris, I think the larger image is the better way to go though. Now I just need to work out why my laptops are just getting a black screen - I assumed Windows copied the wallpaper down locally, perhaps I need to use GPP or "something" to copy the wallpaper to a local location and reference it from there.
    – flooble
    Dec 17, 2010 at 14:46
  • @Hutch, the image can be on a network share, but the computer account has to have access (it's not the user account setting the picture).
    – Chris S
    Dec 17, 2010 at 14:56
  • surely it's the user as it's a User Group Policy item? I suspect I'll look at using something like bginfo.exe anyway, as it would appear to do everything I need i.e. reads the source picture from a network share, lets me specify a desktop/background colour (if applicable) and then writes out a local file that should work on a laptop when the network is offline.
    – flooble
    Dec 17, 2010 at 17:11
  • @ChrisS Should this work for Server 2003? I get a bunch of errors when I try to add it...
    – egerardus
    Feb 25, 2013 at 0:33

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