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HP Notebook PCs - Unable to Change Windows Desktop Background

This document pertains to computers with Windows Vista.

Understanding how spyware can impact desktop wallpaper

If the Windows Desktop background color cannot be changed or you cannot add a picture as your Windows desktop background (wallpaper), then your computer has likely been infected with a type spyware in the past. Even if you have cleaned your system of spyware, you still cannot change your desktop background.

If you cannot change your desktop background, spyware has most likely installed a file that is causing your desktop background to lock up. To resolve this problem, you need to remove the spyware file that has installed itself onto your computer. Perform the steps that are listed below in the exact order given.

NOTE: You must be logged into a user account with administrative privileges to perform these steps. The logon account is the name that you select when opening Windows. Normally, on a home computer, the first account that was initially created will work. Do not use a standard user, limited user, or guest account.

Restoring wallpaper selections by removing entries created by spyware

To remove the spyware file that prevents you from changing your desktop wallpaper, follow the steps below:

  1. Click Start and type regedit into the search field, and select regedit from the list.

  2. If prompted for permission by the User Account Control pop-up window, click Continue.

  3. The Registry Editor window opens.

  4. Select Computer from the top of the list in the main window.

    Figure 1: Select Computer entry in the registry list

    Computer enties in the registry
  5. To create a copy of the registry before making any changes, click File > Export, type a filename that is easy for you to remember, and then click Save.

    A copy of the registry is saved for back-up purposes to the Documents folder. In the unlikely event that an incorrect key is deleted or problems occur after using these steps, you can browse to the exported file and double-click it to restore the registry.

  6. In windows Vista, click the arrow next to the following items in the list:

    • Software
    • Microsoft
    • Windows
    • CurrentVersion
    • Policies
  7. Look for a System folder listed under the Policies folder.

    Select the System folder.

  8. Select the file named Wallpaper in the column to the right, and press the delete key. Confirm the deletion by clicking Yes.
    NOTE: If there is no Wallpaper entry in the registry, the problem was not caused by any known spyware program. You should exit the Registry Editor without making any changes. Try searching the Internet for an alternate solution.

    Figure 2: Wallpaper registry value inside Policies registry key

    Wallpaper registry values
  9. Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.

You should now be able to change your desktop background.

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