Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How to apply desktop wallpaper using Group Policy

Setting the desktop wallpaper background to all users through GPO is a most common task for every Administrator to maintain common environment in all the AD user's computer. We can set desktop wallpaper background via Group Policy using following two methods.

Apply Desktop Wallpaper using GPO's Administrative Template Setting

This method is the easiest and most commonly used way to configure the desktop wallpaper using GPO.

Note: Users can't change their backgrounds once the background wallpaper is applied using this method.

Follow the steps to set desktop wallpaper using Administrative Template:

1. Open the Group Policy Management console by running the command gpmc.msc.

2. Expand the tree and right-click on the OU you want this policy to be applied to. Now, I am going to apply for users who are under the OU TestOU. so right-click on the OU TestOU, and click Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here...
How to apply desktop wallpaper using Group Policy

3. Give the new policy name and click OK. I have given new policy name "Desktop Wallpaper Policy".

4. Now right-click on the newly created GPO Desktop Wallpaper Policy and click Edit...

How to apply desktop wallpaper via Group Policy

5. In the Group Policy Management Editor window, expand User Configuration and go to the node Desktop (User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop > Desktop). In right hand side, select the setting Desktop Wallpaper and double-click it. 

How to apply desktop wallpaper via Group Policy

6. Enable the Desktop Wallpaper setting by selecting the option Enabled and set the explicit local path or a UNC to the image you want display as the desktop wallpaper. Finally click the Apply button to complete.

Deploy desktop wallpaper background via Group Policy

7.Now update the GPO by running the command gpupdate /force in Command Window.

8. That's all. Now we have successfully created GPO to apply desktop background wallpaper for the users who are under OU TestOU. Behind the scene, this policy update the registry value HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper.

Deploy desktop wallpaper background using GPO

9. Now, you can see that desktop wallpaper by logging into any of the user's desktop who are under TestOU.

Note: This setting is not applied to domain users who log on to client computers that are running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. You need to install the hotfix http://support.microsoft.com/kb/977944 to fix this issue.


Apply Desktop Wallpaper using GPO Preference Registry Setting

As I said in Method #1, the desktop background wallpaper is controlled by the registry setting KEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper , we can also use Group Policy Preferences Registry setting to configure desktop wallpaper background through Group Policy.

Note: We can allow user to change their background using this method and also we can restrict users to change if needed.

Follow the below steps to deploy desktop wallpaper via Group Policy Preference Registry Extension:

- Repeat the steps 1-4 in Method #1 (Revert the old changes if you configured using Method #1).
5. In the Group Policy Management Editor window, expand User Configuration and go to the node Registry (User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry ).
6. Right-click on the node Registry and select New > Registry Item.

Configure desktop wallpaper background using GPO

7. Now depends on the need you can set registry key that you configure for this setting. You can either have this as a Restricted setting or Unrestricted setting that allows users to change their own background wallpaper. Click Apply button to complete the process.
Restricted: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\Wallpaper
Unrestricted: HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper

Configure desktop wallpaper background through GPO

8. Now update the GPO by running the command gpupdate /force.

9. That's all. Now we have successfully created GPO to apply desktop background wallpaper for the users who are under OU TestOU. You can see that desktop wallpaper by logging into any of the user's desktop who are under TestOU.


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