Updating Desktop Wallpaper via GPO on Windows 7 Professional - Instant effect at GPO Refresh time without needing to log off RRS feed

  • Question

  • As per:


    I've been referred here, however I suspect this needs Microsoft to issue a hotfix for Windows 7 (any probably other OS versions).

    Note: that this is NOT the blank wallpaper, or the transcoded wallpaper, or the missing [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WallPaper] key or directly referencing network location wallpaper issues, it's none of those and our Windows 7 machines have SP1, so the hotfix mentioned in a lot of these threads is not applicable to this issue.

    We have some complex requirements for Desktop Wallpaper, based on dates it must be certain wallpaper for certain groups of users, to accomplish these requirements I've used a Group Policy and Preferences within to copy files from a network share to the local hard drive (C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\) and set the registry entry to the new wallpaper in that location:

    Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper

    I have also tried Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper

    Here's a nice article on someone else setting it up: http://www.grouppolicy.biz/2011/03/best-practice-using-group-policy-to-configure-desktop-wallpaper-background/

    This works on Windows XP, however on Windows 7, we get the issue that currently logged on users do not receive the new wallpaper when Group Policy does a refresh.

    If you check Personalization from the desktop, you can see the Desktop Background preview shows the new wallpaper, yet the desktop does not, it keeps the previous wallpaper!

    Right-clicking the desktop and choosing refresh doesn't work (not that I'd want it to)

    Locking and unlocking the screen does not work.

    Closing explorer.exe and restarting it (often used in Windows XP days to force registry changes to explorer to take effect.

    The only thing that works is to log off and back in again, however, most users login in the morning and only log off at the end of the working day.

    Sadly we have a requirement to change the wallpaper during the day, sometimes to coincide with the activation of another service.

    I've tried this hotfix, it won't install, so I guess it was a pre-SP1 hotfix, nor do we get the blank/black desktop issue others appear to complain about: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/977944

    I don't think it's this "TranscodedWallpaper.jpg" either as that just shows the default Windows background, no matter which of our wallpapers we have applied/trying to apply/swap between. Wallpapers are usually .bmp (seemed to be required for XP) but have some .jpg as well now.

    Please help, anyone else experience this issue? Have a solution? I think MS need to do another Hotfix?

    I've found this executable... wallpaperchanger.exe it allows a user to change the wallpaper, and it refreshes the desktop in real time, so it changes instantly.

    While it might sound good and this can be used as a workaround, it demonstrates just how broken Windows 7 is with Group Policy and the Desktop Wallpaper.

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper] is a Policy reg key, the user is unable to change this. However a user is able to change [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Deskop\Wallpaper] and that's what this executable does, however it also generates a .bmp file in the user's temp drive and points this key to that file, it must also do some call to the OS to refresh the desktop as it instantly changes.

    This still works EVEN WITH  [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper] set! AND these POLICIES set in the same policy:

    Prevent changing color scheme 
    Prevent changing desktop background 
    Prevent changing mouse pointers 
    Prevent changing sounds 
    Prohibit selection of visual style font size

    So users can use this executable as a start up program to change their wallpaper when they login, overriding POLICY, and keep it until they log off.

    I think this really needs a Hotfix from Microsoft, it might seem trivial, but it means we cannot block user's control of their desktop wallpaper, which can lead to some serious consequences if they use inappropriate images.

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013 7:47 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    The group policy only applied when user logon or in its default interval time, so if user change its Wallpaper, it will be changed back only when policy applied again or we can trigger a policy refresh by running GPupdate /force.




    Best regards, Jason Mei Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013 8:44 AM
  • Jason, as per my post above, the issue is that the preview updates following an interval refresh, but the actual desktop wallpaper does not.

    Doing a gpupdate /force gives exactly the same result.

    Monday, August 19, 2013 10:04 AM
  • HI,

    for this issue, here are the general steps for troubleshooting.

    1. We should make sure affected user is able to reach the location where the wallpaper located.

    2. Check the Gpresult by running following command to check if the GPO is indeed applied.

    Gpresult /V >Gp.txt

    3. Enable following log to for investigation.


    Best regards, Jason Mei Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    • Marked as answer by Niki Han Monday, August 26, 2013 4:46 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by Andrew S. (Work) Wednesday, October 9, 2013 4:03 PM
    Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:22 PM
  • Jason, you're not reading my post, I've checked all that, and a log off and work allows them to see the wallpaper, this is a bug in Windows 7 that is not there in Windows XP.

    It does not "refresh" and show the new wallpaper, but if you check "Personalize" the preview shows the new wallpaper and a log off and on will show the new wallpaper.

    However, users typically login first thing in the morning and don't log off until the end of the day, or sometimes just lock it and leave it logged on.

    Furthermore, I found an executable online that any user could download and run to set their wallpaper (without needing to log off), even if there's a policy dictating wallpaper, therefore Wallpaper is not only not refreshing when there's a GP change, but it's easily circumvented!

    Microsoft need to fix this.

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013 4:07 PM