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How to lock the desktop background on Windows 10

If you’re using a company provided laptop or desktop system, chances are you cannot make certain changes to it. Normally, these changes are made to restrict network activity and access to a few critical files e.g. the hosts file but some take it a step further and prevent users from customizing the appearance of their desktop. If you have Windows 10 Home and would like to lock the desktop background, you can do so by editing the registry. Here’s what you need to do.

Lock desktop background

Before you start, pick the image you want to use as the wallpaper. You can save it anywhere you want but it’s a good idea to save it to the root of the C drive because you will need admin rights to add or remove an image from this location. You don’t need to resize it to fit your screen but apply it and make sure it looks good on your desktop.

You need admin rights to edit the registry. In Windows search, type ‘regedit’, or open the run box with the Win+R keyboard shortcut and enter ‘regedit’. Tap enter and it will open the registry editor.

In the registry editor, go the following location.


Right-click the Policies key and go to New>Key. Name the key System. Next, right-click the System key and select New>String. Name the string value Wallpaper. Double-click it and enter the complete path to the wallpaper that you want to set as the default.

Next, right-click the System key again and select New>String and name it WallpaperStyle. You need to set the value of this string value based on how you want the wallpaper to be applied.

  • Centered: 0
  • Tiled: 1
  • Stretched: 2
  • Fit: 3
  • Fill: 4

Once you set the value for it, you need to restart File Explorer. To restart File Explorer, open Task Manager and go to the Processes tab. Look for Windows Explorer, select it, and click the Restart button at the bottom right.

Once File Explorer restarts, your desktop background will be set to the one you selected as the default. More importantly, when you visit the Background tab in the Personlization group of settings in the Settings app, you will see the ‘Some settings are hidden or managed by your organization’ message. The controls will all be greyed out and no one will be able to change them, not even the admin account.

In order to change the background to a different image but still keep the restriction there, you can replace the image that you specified in the registry with a different one but give it the same name. Alternatively, you can give the image a different name and change it in the registry.

To get rid of this restriction, simply delete the System key you created.

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