Cannot change desktop background in Windows 7 / 8 / 10

Most of us enjoy displaying out favorite Desktop Background or Wallpaper on our Windows Desktop. But, if you find for some reason that you cannot change the desktop background or wallpaper in Windows 10 or Windows 8 / 7, you may try some of these troubleshooting steps.

Cannot change desktop background

Before you begin, please check if you have installed and third-party customization software and if it is restricting you from changing the desktop background. If so uninstall it and restart your Windows PC.

1] Open Control Panel and select ‘Ease of Access’ Center. Then, click on ‘Optimize Visual display’ link. Scroll down until you find ‘Make the computer easier to see’ section. Once found, make sure that Remove background images (where available) is unchecked. Save, Apply, Exit.

make things easier to see

This should help!

2] Open you Power Setting in Control Panel. Open Power Options > Select your power plan  > Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings > Expand the Desktop background settings option > Expand Slide show.

Cannot change desktop background

Ensure that the Plugged in option is set to Available.

3] If the above option too fails, maybe your TranscodedWallpaper.jpg file has become corrupted.

Open explorer and type the following in the address bar and hit Enter:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\

Here, rename TranscodedWallpaper.jpg to TranscodedWallpaper.old.

Next, double-click slideshow.ini file and open it with Notepad. Empty its contents. That is, select all the text and delete it. Save the changes. Close explorer windows.

4] If not, try this. Run regedit and navigate to the following key in the Registry Editor:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies

Cannot change desktop background

Right click on Policies > New > KEY > name it as ActiveDesktop.

Next in the right side, right-click > New > DWORD > name it as NoChangingWallPaper.

The DWORD value 1 will restrict change in desktop wallpaper. To allow change give it value as 0.

Reboot.

5] Alternatively, you could open the Group Policy Editor, by typing gpedit.msc in Run box and hitting Enter.

gpedit-desktop-wallpaper

Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop Click Desktop again. Double-click Desktop Wallpaper.

Ensure that the Not Configured option is selected. This will enable the option to change the desktop background.

Hope something helps!

Go here if your Windows 7 slideshow feature for desktop background does not work. This post will show how to change wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter edition.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

59 Comments

  1. Albza

    I’m having the same issue from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1: when I uncheck “Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop” from Visual Effects in Systems (Control Panel) if my theme has 1 wallpaper it works and shadows disappear, but if my theme has more than 1 wallpaper that change every x time, shadows remain also if “Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop” is uncheked. WHY???

  2. Hmmm, could this be a bug or by design?

  3. Albza

    I do think it’s a bug, could you check if you have the same issue? Thanks :)

  4. Nano Thea

    thank’s
    artikel ini amat sangat membantu saya

  5. Samerron

    Very Helpful! Many thanks for sharing…!

  6. Bittu Boss

    Dont get into the above shit…..ur file maybe corrupted or missing……simply copy files from working (friends) pc from d location “C:UsersVJAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsThemes” n replace it in yours…reboot…PROBLEM SOLVED…….EnJoY! (Y)

    [ incase u dont have the resources mail me mbittu92@gmail.com or find me on fb ]

  7. Dr.Malik

    Hello to all, who are reading this, and specially to Mr.Anand.

    Your work is professional.

    My windows 7 ultimate was running nice and even the background slide with 10 seconds duration was running nice. When I updated the window updates, it happened, no slides on the desktop. I read the solutions, with ease center, it did not work. I checked the window updates, and updated to internet explorer 10. Still the problem was there.
    With irritation, I went back to desktop right click, clicked personalization the window opened, clicked desktop background,in the new window,- picture location,- clicked the drop down arrow,selected picture library, clicked browse button and from there I went to the folder of wallpapers I had saved on my computer and selected it and clicked OK, !!!! it was there and it started working after saving the theme, selected all, fixed 10 second duration for the slide background, and it is working now, as it was before. How did it happen, a professional can explain.

    Hope this will help the others, if it dose, let me get a thank note.

    Dr.Malik.
    drmalik169fm@yahoo.co.in

  8. Clipping Path Outsource

    Thank for your kind information.

  9. arun kumar

    thanks boss…….

  10. Julio

    Thank you much, it took me a few websites before I found your post but problem #1 is what I had, thank you much!

  11. Kevin

    Thank you so much! AnandK!

  12. a.c

    thank you! was very helpful for me (the registry one).

  13. K H

    Thank you so much! I changed the transcodedwallpaper and now it works perfectly.

  14. dianna

    i have windows xp and i want vista is there a differance?

  15. Yes, they are two different operating systems. If you are planning to upgrade from Windows XP, consider Windows 7 or Windows 8, instead of Windows Vista.

  16. harpreet singh kalra

    Thanks… The first one helped.

  17. Debasis Mukherjee

    Very useful solutions. Earlier I was unable to change my desktop background. I tried solution steps 1, 2, and 3 one by one. No result. Finally step 4 solved my problem. Thanks.

  18. Glad something helped. :)

  19. G

    this post helped me more than any Microsoft help forum ever has. Thanks!

  20. IT Blogger Tips

    Thanks it helped me to resolve the issue..

  21. Rian

    Thanks for the info..but I saw something about change lock screen image. see this site http://www.technology151.club/2014/07/how-to-change-lock-screen-image-for.html

  22. Moltres_rider

    nope.avi does NOT fix the problem

  23. bill

    nothing is working for me, i just bought the computer and i am already tired of the background. i have windows 8.1 and i have no clue how to change the backgorund/ wallpaper. any ideas?

  24. O.O

    not solve my problem

  25. mohana

    ohhhhh. i got it.. now i can change my wallpaper

  26. Edivan Baptista - Brasil

    HELLO Dr.Malik

    How have you been ..! okay!

    I need help Edivan Baptista (Brazil – São Paulo)

    Restored the classic themes of windows, and would create a folder on the local disk to colocalos separately … as shown in customize mode … when clicked on with the right hand mouse button and chose the option to customize .. . Soon we see the themes … divided into classes:

    1st) My class is Themas
    2nd) class is the standard Themas windwos
    3rd) class is Themas Instaldos …

    I would like to create two classes ….

    The first would Themes Windows Clasic … to view my classical songs ….

    And the other would be … Personal Collection Themes for viewing of my favorite subjects more objectively …
    All two options have to have a specific folder.

    Would like your help … I searched on imternet .. everything you can ask for more .. without success … So consutar solves your person ..

    I’m already looking forward and thanks for all grade teacher.

    Edivan Baptista

    ediva.baptsta@gmail.com

  27. Edivan Baptistas

    HELLO Dr.Malik

    How have you been ..! okay!

    I need help Edivan Baptista (Brazil – São Paulo)

    Restored the classic themes of windows, and would create a folder on the local disk to colocalos separately … as shown in customize mode … when clicked on with the right hand mouse button and chose the option to customize .. . Soon we see the themes … divided into classes:

    1st) My class is Themas
    2nd) class is the standard Themas windwos
    3rd) class is Themas Instaldos …

    I would like to create two classes ….

    The first would Themes Windows Clasic … to view my classical songs ….

    And the other would be … Personal Collection Themes for viewing of my favorite subjects more objectively …
    All two options have to have a specific folder.

    Would like your help … I searched on imternet .. everything you can ask for more .. without success … So consutar solves your person ..

    Registration is between politics and Regedit !?

    I’m already looking forward and thanks for all grade teacher.

    Edivan Baptista

    edivan.baptsta@gmail.com

  28. kwame

    very helpful, especially the explorer directory!!,thnx!!

  29. Nitesh

    Hello Anand Sir,
    It was great description to this problem and helped me a lot.
    Thank you and keep this work.

  30. Knucckles

    The above information is sound I had the same problem on WIndows 8 and this corrected my issue — many thanks for the advice.

  31. kalam

    not working!!! my desktop background is black yet :(

  32. kalam

    not working!!! my desktop background is black yet :(

  33. RD Anantha Krishnan

    thank you very much…it was very useful…

  34. Zachary

    Worked like a charm saving this for future settings thank you alot,Zacharybradley@hotmail.ca

  35. Tinashe Phiri

    Thanks a lot. It saved the day!!!

  36. Roberto Victor

    Solution 3 worked nicely for me! Thank you very much, AnandK!

  37. kashif

    Thanks a lot , your 3rd solution really worked for me , now i can change my desktop easily

  38. PattieG

    I renamed the transcodedwallpaper.jpg and my themes slideshow started working again. Yay! Thank you!!!

  39. Arrizalu Arsa Ringotama

    So helpful, thanks for sharing my friend!!! Thank you!!

  40. dakota biscan

    Number 3 really helped. Thank you. I have been searching the internet for hours about this issue, and nobody had the right answer for me.

  41. VIRAL

    thanks for the help
    it is helpful other person

  42. Tever

    Thank you very much for this fix. I’ve been trying to do this for a week or so and your instructions to make the transcoded wallpaper file old and clear the ini fixed it. I greatly appreciate your help.

  43. Alf P. Steinbach

    Great article! I haven’t tried the Active Desktop config yet but I suspect that a simple reboot will fix things. I just liked the clear exposition here.

  44. Event E

    thanks a
    5] Alternatively, you could open the Group Policy Editor, by typing gpedit.msc in Run box and hitting Enter.
    is perfect

  45. anaxyy

    The third solution works to me ‘ Win 8.1 Thanks a lot!!!! 😀

  46. San Jaf

    Thank you so much … waooooo really helpful …..

  47. Sev

    Deleting the text inside the slideshow.ini file is what fixed it for me. Been working at this for about an hour now, so I greatly appreciate this article.

  48. Marada Mounika

    Hi , mine is windows 7 ultimate, when ever i set a desktop wallpaper it stays only few seconds and after that its going and i am getting only black color desktop. please tell me the solution.

  49. Timo Puikkonen

    Thank you!
    ‘Once found, make sure that Remove background images (where available) is unchecked. Save, Apply, Exit.’

  50. Falexander Roberts

    THANKS! i was stuck with black as my background!

  51. kk

    Step #3 fix the problem for me. Thanks!

  52. Mary

    This really helped me. The first step fixed my issue of not being able to have a desktop background. Thank you!

  53. dcsdreams

    I know this is an old thread, but I’ll give it a try. I am running Windows 7 Home Premium. I used to be able to change my desktop background. I’m not sure when I was no longer able to change it, since I don’t very often. I had a standard windows background picture, but now I can’t change it. I managed to change it to a solid color and I can change the background color, but solid colors is all I can get. I have tried all of the above with no success. The only thing – when I search for “%USERPROFILE%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsThemes”, the search returned no results. If I remove the end “/”, I can see the Themes folder. However, the folder is empty; there is no TranscodedWallpaper.jpg file. Could that be my problem? BTW, even though I was unsuccessful find that file, I proceeded to step #4 with no luck.
    Thank you for any help.

  54. ThunderBoltMSGT

    If I add an image as the desktop background that is smaller than the screen resolution and select “Fit” option there’s a different color surrounding the image. I can’t find where I can select “White” as the fill color around the image. Any suggestions?

  55. Lolly Minecraft

    Very old post, but I had Windows 7 Starter edition. Somehow I had a 3rd party app or something that came with it which allowed me to set up a slide show of pictures. I recently updated to Windows 7 Ultimate, then Windows 10. This means I can change my background. However when I do the slideshow remains. In my settings however it shows the image I changed it to. I have removed all malware and I couldn’t find any dodgy 3rd party apps, do you know what is happening and how to fix it?

  56. Manpreet Sach

    Thanks man! My TranscodedWallpaper.jpg file has become corrupted. Now Problem Resolved after 3-4 Months.
    Love You!

  57. Mikhael Izsak-Dicker

    Thanks! Already Option 1 worked for me. It was – of ourse – me who had earlier changed the option w/o thinking, and then I forgot about having done it :-) :-(

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