FIX: Windows won’t let me change my desktop background

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
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If you cannot change your desktop background on your Windows 10 computer, it could be the setting is disabled, or there’s another underlying cause. However, one of the easiest ways to fix this almost instantly is by right clicking on any photo and setting it as desktop background. This can also be done via settings by clicking Settings > Personalization > Background to select a picture and change background on your computer.

But what do you do when you’ve tried all the basic fixes you know and nothing seems to work? Check out some of the workarounds below and see if one of these does the trick for you.

FIX: Windows won’t let me change background

  1. Preliminary fixes
  2. Check that your Windows 10 is activated
  3. Create a new user profile with admin rights
  4. Delete TranscodedWallpaper or slideshow file in Registry editor
  5. Use Registry Editor
  6. Perform a clean boot
  7. Disable the video driver
  8. Use Ease of Access center
  9. Check that Plugged In option in desktop background settings is available
  10. Use Group Policy Editor
  11. Activate ‘Show Windows Background’

1. Preliminary fixes

  • Turn off ‘Show Windows background’
  • Check if you have installed a third-party customization software as it could be restricting you from changing the desktop background. If so uninstall it and restart your computer, then try to change background again.
  • Reinstall Windows again from your recovery key

2. Check that your Windows 10 is activated

This can prevent you from changing background via Settings. Here’s how to confirm if your Windows 10 is genuine and activated:

  • Right click Start and select Run

  • Type explorer shell:::{D555645E-D4F8-4C29-A827-D93C859C4F2A}\pageEasierToSee and press Enter.
  • Go to Make computer easier to see window

  • Under Make things on the screen easier to see section, uncheck the Remove background images (where available) checkbox.

  • Click OK when done
  • Reboot your computer and try changing the background again

— RELATED: 4 best virtual fireplace software and apps for a perfect wallpaper

3. Create a new user profile with admin rights

  • Click Start
  • Select Settings

  • Click Family and Other people

  • Select Accounts

  • Click Add someone else to this PC

  • Fill in the form with the user name and password. Your new user account will be created.
  • Click on Change account type
  • Click the drop down arrow and choose Administrator to set the account to administrator level
  • Restart your computer

Login to the new account you just created and set the desktop background again.

4. Delete TranscodedWallpaper or slideshow file in Registry editor

Sometimes you may not be able to change background because the image file you’re using is corrupted and has to be deleted. To do this:

  • Click Start and select File Explorer

Windows 10 Quick Access error

  • Paste this path in the address bar: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes
  • Double click slideshow.ini file and open in Notepad
  • Empty the contents of that file in Notepad by selecting all the text and deleting it
  • Save the changes and close File Explorer
  • Try and change background again.

— RELATED: 5 best tools to remove background from images

5. Use Registry Editor

  • Right click Start and select Run
  • Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

Important updates are pending

  • Click Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies
  • Right click on Policies
  • Click New
  • Click KEY and name it as ActiveDesktop
  • Next in the right side, right-click New
  • Select DWORD and name it as NoChangingWallPaper. The DWORD value 1 will restrict changein desktop wallpaper. To allow change give it value as 0.
  • Restart your computer

6. Perform a clean boot

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A clean boot reduces conflicts related to software that can show what is causing you not to be able to change background, usually as a result of apps and services that start and run in the background when Windows starts normally. To do this:

  • Log on as administrator, and type msconfig in the search box
  • Select System Configuration
  • Find Services tab

There is insufficient disk space to complete operation

  • Select Hide all Microsoft services box

  • Click Disable all
  • Go to Startup tab
  • Click Open Task Manager

Windows Defender is not removing Trojan

  • Close Task manager then click Ok
  • Reboot your computer

7. Disable the video driver

  • Right click Start and select Device manager

  • Right click your Video Card
  • Select Disable
  • Restart your computer
  • Try to change background image again.

— RELATED: Best Final Fantasy XV wallpapers to set on your desktop

8. Use Ease of Access center

  • Click Start and select Settings
  • Select Ease of Access

Can’t type password in Windows 10

  • Click Optimize Visual Display link
  • Scroll down and find Make the computer easier to see section
  • Make sure that Remove background images (where available)is unchecked
  • Click Save, Apply, and Exit.

9. Check that Plugged In option in desktop background settings is available

  • Click Start and select Control Panel
  • Click Hardware and Sound

  • Click Power Options
  • Select your power plan
  • Click Change plan settings
  • Click Change advanced power settings
  • Click Expand the desktop background settings
  • Click Expand slideshow
  • Set the Plugged In option to Available

— RELATED: How to set a dual monitor wallpaper on Windows 10

10. Use Group Policy Editor

  • Right click Start and select Run
  • Type gpedit.msc and press enter
  • Go to User configuration

  • Select Administrative Templates
  • Double click Control Panel

  • Double Click Personalization
  • Look for the policy Prevent changing desktop background

  • Double click on it to access its properties
  • Select Not Configured or Disabled to enable changing desktop background. If it is enabled, disable it.

11. Activate ‘Show Windows Background’

  • Click Start and select Settings
  • Select Ease of Access
  • Click More Options
  • There’s a slider that reads: Show Windows Background
  • Activate it and change background again to see if it works

Did any of these solutions help you restore the change background feature? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.

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