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change windows logon screen Recently I’ve been playing around with some of the customization options in Windows 7, particularly enjoying themes, setting my own desktop backgrounds and alerts – the sort of thing I haven’t really had time for over the past few years. After a while, I noticed that a few things didn’t seem to be configurable.

Previous versions of Windows have allowed various customization options, from desktop backgrounds and startup chimes to altering logon screen messages and text.

However with Windows 7, these options have been restricted by Microsoft, leaving many users with a problem. If you’re responsible for applying company-specific branding to a network of computers or if you’re simply an enthusiast who enjoys tweaking the OS to suit a whim, you’ll have noticed that the Windows 7 logon message, the font and the colour of the text are apparently impossible to change.

Or are they?

Well, no, they’re not. As a matter of fact, making these changes is relatively easy.

Customize the Windows 7 Logon Message

Intended for Windows 7 32 bit or 64 bit computers with Service Pack 1 installed, the following can be done with or without User Account Control active. You will also need a copy of Resource Hacker, a free tool designed to enable you to modify, add, rename, delete and view resources in Windows EXE files.

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While this is downloading, open C:\Windows\System32\en-US\ (note that non-English versions of Windows will have a different folder name, such as \es-ES\ for Spanish) and find winlogon.exe.mui.

change windows logon screen

Right-click this file and select Properties > Security > Advanced > Owner – in this window, click Edit and then under Change owner to, select your own logon name and click Apply. Click OK to proceed, and select OK to exit these windows and the original Properties box.

windows logon screen

Once done, return to Properties > Security and select Edit. In the following box, click Add and search for your logon name; it should resolve as PCNAME\USERNAME. Select this, click OK to add and you will be returned to the Security tab. From here, click Advanced > Permissions > Change Permissions, and under Permission Entries:, select the newly added entry and click Edit. Select the Full Control checkbox in the Allow column, then click OK and Apply to exit back to the Properties box.

You should then copy the winlogon.exe.mui to a new location, preferably your desktop.

windows logon screen

Next, install Resource Hacker and launch the software from the Windows Start menu by right-clicking and selecting Run as Administrator. Agree to the UAC notice and when the application has loaded open File > Open and in the Files of type box select All files (*.*). Browse to the desktop and load winlogon.exe.mui into Resource Hacker.

windows logon screen

You will see that the tool has a similar interface to the Windows Registry Editor, so expand String Table > 63 > 1033 and in the right pane update the entries in quotes on lines 1002 and 1005 – this will be your new Windows 7 logon screen message!

how to change windows logon screen

Ensure the quotes remain in place, and click Compile Script and then File > Save to complete the process.

how to change windows logon screen

Close Resource Hacker and copy the winlogon.exe.mui file back to C:\Windows\System32\en-US\ (choosing Copy and Replace) and then open Start and type CMD, right-clicking the resulting command prompt icon and selecting Run as administrator. Type mcbuilder and tap Enter, and wait until the process is complete (the cursor will flash on a new line) before entering Exit to close the command prompt.

Restart Windows to complete the process and confirm your changes.

To undo this and restore the original message, simply start the process again, replacing your custom message with “Welcome”. Alternatively, delete winlogon.exe.mui and replace it with the winlogon.exe_original.mui file created by Resource Hacker, renaming it appropriately.

Change the Logon Screen Font

While changing the logon screen message might take a while, changing the font is much quicker.

Open Start and type regedit, tapping Enter to launch the utility and agreeing to any UAC prompts (before proceeding use File > Export to make a backup of your Windows Registry – useful if an error is made).

how to change windows logon screen

Expand the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes and find MS Shell Dlg in the right pane – right click on this and select Modify. In the resulting box, input the name of the font you wish to use (check C:\Windows\Fonts for a list of currently installed choices), and repeat for the entry MS Shell Dlg 2 (note that the default option is Tahoma).

Once this is done, close the Windows registry and restart your computer to apply the changes (note that you can also logoff and logon, although locking your computer will not display the changes).

The Text Is Too Light/Dark! Can I Change the Colour?

Changing the colour of the Windows logon screen font isn’t possible but you can change the weight of the text – that is, how prominent it appears in front of your chosen background.

To do this, return to the Windows Registry Editor and expand the path HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI; in the right pane right-click and select New > DWORD, naming it ButtonSet.

change windows logon screen

Once this is done, double click to edit the value, clicking OK when you’re done. You have a choice of the following:

0 – This gives lighter text shadows, darker buttons and is the default choice.

1 – Suitable for lighter backgrounds, this option offers darker text shadows and lighter buttons.

2 – Intended for a darker background, text shadows are removed and buttons are opaque.

When your choice is made, close Registry Editor and restart Windows to check the results!

Conclusion

Although third party software and changes to the Windows Registry are required to make these customizations, the results can be impressive, especially when combined with a custom logon screen background.

Although applying a new logon screen message might appear a long and drawn out process it can genuinely be done in just a couple of minutes. Similarly, changing the Windows 7 logon screen font and tone can be completed in just a few seconds, particularly if you already know which font you want to use – providing it is installed!

  1. Stuart Dunn
    November 3, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Interesting read. I tried to change my log in font, editing MS Shell Dlg and MS Shell Dlg 2 did not alter my log in text at all, but did change the text for all Windows functions once I am logged on (i,e program properties etc.)

    • Thomas H
      November 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Tried changing login font too but same problem here; it changed all interface texts, but not my login screen... :s

    • Thomas H
      November 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      Also, is it possible to change the entire login interface? Guess not, since I spent hours of searching, which yielded no results whatsoever... :(

  2. Silviu Despa
    August 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Time to customize Windows! Great article!

  3. Jose Pereira
    August 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Great tutorial but isn't there an easier way to change the logon screan? I found some great themes here http://topwindows7themes.com but I can not change my logon screan and I had read somewhere about a Windows 7 Logon Background Changer software. Isn't this program much easier to use and have you tried it?

  4. Igor Rizvi?
    August 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Grat arcile,you can even change the background picture if your using glary utlities

  5. Rifai A. L
    August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Nice article, but will it violate MS TOS !

  6. Daniel Voyles
    July 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    No screenshot of the finished product? Could have used an emulator to get it.

  7. Evan Spangler
    July 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I am going to make my computer even more Star Wars-ish!

  8. Evan Spangler
    July 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    This is perfect! I am going to make my computer even more Star Wars-ish!

  9. Suman Acharya
    July 28, 2012 at 6:15 am

    a lil work...cool and nice article i'm gonna try thsi : :: : : : but you should've provided it with sharing options.

  10. Rigoberto Garcia
    July 28, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Great article Christian. Should try it out...

  11. Fatih Hamzah
    July 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Is it OK to change the owner? is there any problem to PC after change the owner? how about the security after doing that?

  12. Alan Wade
    July 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    You can change the shut-down message following your tutorial but navigating to winint.exe.mui instead of winlogon.exe.mui.
    To complete the set, there is a third party app that will change the boot screen message called Win7BootUpdater.exe available from here: http://www.coderforlife.com/projects/win7boot/

    I love customizing my machine, and spend many hours doing so.

  13. Muhammad Ahmad
    July 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

    No need to change these settings.

    • Alan Wade
      July 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      I'm sorry and dont wish to be rude but what the hell are you talking about?

    • Suman Acharya
      July 28, 2012 at 6:17 am

      who is forcing you??

      • Muhammad Ahmad
        July 28, 2012 at 6:33 am

        no one is forcing me. But I don't like to change it personally.

  14. Alan Wade
    July 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Might be worth mentioning that a reboot may be needed, it was on my machine.

    Neat trick, Thanks!!

    • Alan Wade
      July 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Another thing, the file 1033 is for English systems, this file number will be different on other systems. For example, it is 1053 on my Swedish system.

      • Tina
        July 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm

        Thanks for the heads-up, Alan!

        • Alan Wade
          July 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

          No problem at all.

  15. sriramv24
    July 27, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Thanks! Nice instructions...

  16. Elaheh Sadegh
    July 27, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I really wanted to share this page on twitter and FB with my friends,but I can't find any share button under the article!

    • Tina
      July 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Looks like something is wrong with this article. I can't see them either, but they appear fine on other articles. I have asked James to look into this. Thanks for wanting to share!!!

  17. Elaheh Sadegh
    July 27, 2012 at 4:09 am

    I should try this at work , sounds really fun.thanks

  18. Victor Kang
    July 27, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Easy to follow

  19. MerVzter Balacuit
    July 27, 2012 at 12:29 am

    thumbs up!!

  20. Dylan Brendan
    July 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Great Article!! Thank you!

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