Jump to content

Computer Stuff: Changing Windows XP Logon Screen Theme


Recommended Posts

Back in 2010 I wanted to do this. I searched high and low on the interweb, trying to find someone else that had done it before. Unfortunately it seemed to be one of those things that confused a lot of people. People on forums and what not seemingly didn't realise that there was a difference between the Classic Theme, and the Luna theme without the actual visual style applied (what you get when you disable the Themes service). Well, there is. What I'm about to cover is the method that I've discovered of changing the theme on the Windows XP classic style logon screen to use the Windows 2000 style Windows Classic Theme.

Why on earth would you want to do such a thing? If you prefer to use the Windows 2000 style Windows Classic Theme and the Windows 2000 style classic logon screen on Windows XP, you'll notice that there is a change in appearance between reaching the logon screen, and then reaching the desktop after logging in. There is really only one reason to change the theme on the logon screen in my case: because I want everything to match. There ya go. I'm really not sure if it would make anything faster. Though it certainly does look nicer over a remote connection, such as RDP.

I have discovered two different ways of doing this. Both require accessing the SYSTEM account in different ways. There really is no way around it. If it can be done in the registry, I don't know where to look. One of the methods requires messing with sethc.exe in the System32 folder (the sticky keys executable), and the other involves pulling a trick with Command Prompt. I'll be showing the latter.


The first thing you want to do is, log on to an administrator account. If a domain administrator account is what you have, that should work just the same. Then open Command Prompt and enter:

at 10:41 /interactive “cmd.exe”

Where "10:41" is a time just after the current time. If it's 19:17 (7:17PM), enter 19:18 or 19:19 for example. I think the time does need to be entered in the 24-hour format, though I'm not sure.


That command will schedule a new task, for Command Prompt to open. And because the system is taking care of that task, Command Prompt will open under the SYSTEM account.

Once the system opens Command Prompt for you, you'll need to open the Task Manager and "kill" explorer.exe. The taskbar and desktop icons should disappear.



Warning: Do not confuse the two open Command Prompt windows. Make sure to close the one used to schedule the task, and you should be left with the one opened by the system.

Then you go to your system Command Prompt window and enter:


You should see some activity. Running explorer.exe should log on to the SYSTEM account. Once it does, you can check the start menu and you should see the SYSTEM username.



Now it's just a simple matter of changing the theme. It should be the default Luna blue with the bliss background (even though the background is not present on the logon screen, I think if you change it, it will be set there). You don't have to change it to the Classic Theme. Literally what ever style you want should work. This method may even work on Windows 2000 to change its logon screen theme appearance.

Warning #2: Remember, this is the SYSTEM account. It's the most powerful account in any Windows NT install. It has control over everything. I would advise just to set the theme the way you want and leave. Changing the start menu style and things like that don't make any difference to the way the logon screen will look anyway. And I would advise against running any software or accessing any network resources.


So once you've got the SYSTEM account looking the way you want, simply open the start menu and click "Log off". Once you do, it should log off of the SYSTEM account and go back to the logon screen. Sort of "logonception". And once you get to the logon screen, you should be greated with your custom theme style! Oh, happy days.


"And that's that."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice! :yes:


However, to run as the SYSTEM user one may use PAExec, PsExec or RunAsSystem to run cmd, instead of the at trick.


whoami.exe (part of the XP Support Tools, one may just fish it inside the installer, and use it without installing the full toolkit) is also useful to confirm one is really running as the SYSTEM user...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Umm...doesn't Tweak UI 2.10 under this menu does that same thing?







After copying those elements and restarting, I get this:




Well, it's 90% of the way there.




All you have to do now is remove the link to the Luna theme style. And...




There we go.


I had no idea that it could be done with TweakUI. I wonder what exactly it's copying and where. I haven't noticed a profile for the SYSTEM account anywhere, or at least not in the Documents and Settings directory.


Thanks MrMateczko!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great success! I stitched together some registry exports from the install used in the first post. Now I have a .reg file that can change the theme to the Windows 2000 style classic theme in an instant!


Here it is for anyone interested:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors]"ActiveBorder"="212 208 200""ActiveTitle"="10 36 106""AppWorkSpace"="128 128 128""Background"="58 110 165""ButtonAlternateFace"="181 181 181""ButtonDkShadow"="64 64 64""ButtonFace"="212 208 200""ButtonHilight"="255 255 255""ButtonLight"="212 208 200""ButtonShadow"="128 128 128""ButtonText"="0 0 0""GradientActiveTitle"="166 202 240""GradientInactiveTitle"="192 192 192""GrayText"="128 128 128""Hilight"="10 36 106""HilightText"="255 255 255""HotTrackingColor"="0 0 128""InactiveBorder"="212 208 200""InactiveTitle"="128 128 128""InactiveTitleText"="212 208 200""InfoText"="0 0 0""InfoWindow"="255 255 225""Menu"="212 208 200""MenuText"="0 0 0""Scrollbar"="212 208 200""TitleText"="255 255 255""Window"="255 255 255""WindowFrame"="0 0 0""WindowText"="0 0 0""MenuHilight"="49 106 197""MenuBar"="236 233 216"[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]"BorderWidth"="-15""CaptionFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,bc,02,00,00,\  00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,65,00,74,\  00,20,00,4d,00,53,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"CaptionHeight"="-270""CaptionWidth"="-270""IconFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,90,01,00,00,00,\  00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,4c,00,00,00,8b,00,00,00,8b,00,00,\  00,01,00,00,00,f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"IconSpacing"="-1125""IconTitleWrap"="1""IconVerticalspacing"="-1125""MenuFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,90,01,00,00,00,\  00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"MenuHeight"="-270""MenuWidth"="-270""MessageFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,90,01,00,00,\  00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"ScrollHeight"="-240""ScrollWidth"="-240""Shell Icon BPP"="16""SmCaptionFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,bc,02,00,\  00,00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"SmCaptionHeight"="-225""SmCaptionWidth"="-180""StatusFont"=hex:f5,ff,ff,ff,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,90,01,00,00,\  00,00,00,01,00,00,00,00,54,00,61,00,68,00,6f,00,6d,00,61,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\  00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00"AppliedDPI"=dword:00000060"Shell Icon Size"="32""MinAnimate"="1"[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ThemeManager]"WCreatedUser"="1""LMVersion"="103""ThemeActive"="0"
Edited by MrMaguire
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...