How to Change Wallpaper on Unactivated Windows 11 PC

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If you’ve installed Windows 11 and haven’t activated it yet, you can’t access personalization settings. Microsoft limits certain features on non-activated Windows copies, including the ability to change wallpapers.

This can be an annoying limitation for many. Luckily, there are a few workarounds you can use to change wallpaper in Windows 11 without activation.

1. Set Wallpaper Using File Explorer in Windows 11

You can set any image as desktop background using File Explorer. This is handy for bypassing the limitation set by Microsoft on systems running an unactivated copy of Windows 11. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Hurry Win + E to open File Explorer. Open the folder containing the image you want to set as wallpaper.
  2. Right click on your favorite image and select Set as wallpaper.
  3. If you want to set desktop slideshow, select multiple images, right-click and select Set as desktop wallpaper option.
  4. You can also select the image and then click the Set as background option in the upper right corner.

2. Change Wallpaper on Windows Not Activated Using Photos App

You can use the built-in Photos app to view and make basic edits. However, a lesser-known feature of the Photos app is that it lets you set the desktop background and lock screen within the app.

To set the desktop background:

  1. Open the image you want to use as your wallpaper in the Pictures application.
  2. Then click on the three dot menu in the upper right corner to open the The context menu. You can also right-click in the Photos app to access the menu.
  3. Then go to Set > Set as Background. This will change your current desktop background.
  4. Additionally, use Set > Set as lock screen to set the image as your desktop lock screen.

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3. Change desktop wallpaper with Firefox

Firefox has many hidden features, and one of them is the ability to set web images as your desktop background. With this, you don’t need to download individual images and then use them as your wallpaper.

Instead, you can right-click any image on the web and use the desktop background option.

To set the desktop background with Firefox:

  1. To throw firefox and open the image you want to use as wallpaper.
  2. Right click on the image and select Set image as desktop background.
  3. Next, select the position (Center) and color. Firefox will only use this preference if the image resolution is lower than your display resolution.
  4. Click on Set desktop background to save changes.

4. Change desktop background without activation using Paint

MS Paint is a built-in paint application that you can use to create drawings, edit and enhance screenshots, etc. Interestingly, the app comes with an option to set images as wallpaper in the app. To set the desktop wallpaper using Paint:

  1. Launch the MS Paint application on your PC.
  2. Hurry CTRL+O to bring up the Open dialog box. Here, select and open the image you want to set as wallpaper.
  3. Then click on Case and select Set as wallpaper. Then select Fill, tile, or Center for the position of the image.

5. Set Desktop Wallpaper Using Registry Editor

The Windows Registry Editor allows you to modify your system’s registry entries to enable or disable many features of the Windows operating system.

To set an image as the desktop background using Registry Editor, you will need to create a new key and string value pointing to the path of the image. It’s a bit of a tedious process, but you can do it, and here we show you how.

Note that incorrect changes to the system registry can cause the system to malfunction. Create a restore point before proceeding with the steps below.

  1. Hurry Win + R to open Course.
  2. Type regedit and click OKAY to open Registry Editor. Click on Yes if prompted by User Account Control (UAC).
  3. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following location. You can also copy and paste the following path for faster navigation.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPolicies
  4. Right-click on the Policies key and select New > Key. Rename the key to System.
  5. Right click on the System button and select New > String Value. Rename it as Wallpaper.
  6. Right click on the Wallpaper chain value and select To modify.
  7. Paste the file path of your desktop background image into the Value data domain. Click on OKAY to save changes.
  8. To find the path to your image file, tap Win + E to open File Explorer and navigate to the folder with the wallpaper. Right click on the wallpaper image file and select Copy as path. Paste the copied path without the quotes.


6. Set Desktop Background Using Group Policy Editor

You can also edit and set the default background using the Group Policy Editor. Useful for the system administrator who wants to change the wallpaper of all the computers in his network.

Note that Group Policy Editor is only available on Windows 11 Pro, Edu, and Enterprise editions of the operating system. If you use Home, follow our guide on how to enable Group Policy Editor in Windows Home edition.

To set the desktop background using gpedit:

  1. Hurry Win + R to open Course.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and click OKAY to open Group Policy Editor.
  3. In the Group Policy Editor, navigate to the following location:
    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop > Desktop
  4. In the right pane, find and right-click the desktop wallpaper Politics.
  5. To select To modify from the context menu.
  6. Then select Enabled and paste the background image file path in the Wallpaper name domain.
  7. Click on the drop-down menu and select a Wallpaper style.
  8. Click on Apply and OKAY to save changes.

Bypassing Personalization Limitations on Windows 11 Not Activated

Windows 11 makes it easy to adjust your personalization settings to match your style with different color schemes, taskbar alignment, and more. However, if your copy of Windows 11 is not activated, things can get a bit tricky.

Alternatively, you can also use third-party customization apps for Windows 11. These apps allow you to modify different aspects of the operating system and work regardless of the activation state.


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