How to Restrict Users from Changing Start Screen Background and Color in Windows 8 and 8.1?

Start Screen was added to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 to replace the good ol' Start Menu. Start Screen works like a full screen Start Menu showing big live tiles of installed programs and metro apps. Microsoft provides various customization options to change look-n-feel of Start Screen such as changing Start Screen background image, background color and accent color. Windows 8.1 also allows you to set your current Desktop wallpaper as Start Screen background as mentioned here.

Sometimes you may want to set your desired background image and accent color for Start Screen and don't want other people to change it without your permission or you might be working as Administrator in your office and need to restrict your employees from changing Start Screen background image and color in Windows 8 or 8.1. In such situations this topic will definitely help you.

Recently we told you how to restrict users from changing Start Screen layout in Windows 8 and 8.1 such as pinning or unpinning tiles, moving, uninstalling, resizing or grouping tiles in Start Screen:

How to Restrict Users from Customizing Start Menu or Start Screen Layout in Windows?

Today in this topic we'll tell you how to restrict users from customizing Start Screen look such as changing Start Screen background image, background color and accent color. Once you apply this tutorial, users will not be able to access Start Screen personalization options. All or selected options given in Start Screen personalization page will be grayed out.

Windows_8_Start_Screen_Restrictions.png

So without wasting time lets start the tutorial:

You can restrict Start Screen customization in following 3 ways:

  • Apply default Start Screen background image and accent color and restrict users from accessing all personalization options
  • Set a desired Start Screen background image and restrict users from changing Start Screen background image only
  • Set a solid color as Start Screen background and restrict users from applying an image as Start Screen background

In 1st method, users will not be able to access any customization option of Start Screen. They'll not be able to change Start Screen background image and accent color. The default Start Screen background image and accent color will be applied.

In 2nd method, you'll set your desired background image for Start Screen and users will not be able to change the background image. But they'll be able to change Start Screen background color and accent color.

In 3rd method, you'll disable Start Screen background image feature. You'll set a desired solid color as Start Screen background and users will not be able to set a background image for Start Screen. They'll be able to change Start Screen background color and accent color.

METHOD 1: Restrict Users from Changing Start Screen Background Image and Accent Color

You can use either Group Policy Editor or Registry Editor according to your requirements:

Using Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc):

1. Press "WIN+R" key combination to launch RUN dialog box, then type gpedit.msc and press Enter. It'll open Group Policy Editor.

2. Now go to:

Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalization

3. In right-side pane, double-click on "Prevent changing start menu background" option and set its value to "Enabled".

Restrict_Start_Screen_Customization_Windows_8.png

That's it. It'll immediately apply default Start Screen background image and accent color and will also disable all Start Screen personalization options. Users will not be able to change Start Screen background image and accent color. If you want to enable the options again in future, change the value to "Disabled" or "Not Configured".

Using Registry Editor (regedit.exe):

1. Type regedit in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Personalization

If you can't find "Personalization" key, you'll need to create it manually.

3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD NoChangingStartMenuBackground and set its value to 1

Disable_Start_Screen_Customization_Windows_8.png

In future if you want to enable the options again, either delete the DWORD or change its value to 0

METHOD 2: Restrict Users from Changing Start Screen Background Image Only

You can use either Group Policy Editor or Registry Editor according to your requirements:

Using Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc):

1. Press "WIN+R" key combination to launch RUN dialog box, then type gpedit.msc and press Enter. It'll open Group Policy Editor.

2. Now go to:

Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel -> Personalization

3. In right-side pane, double-click on "Force a specific Start background" option and set its value to "Enabled".

4. Now you'll need to provide your desired Start Screen background image ID in given box. You can choose any number from 1 to 20.

Force_Specific_Start_Screen_Background_Image_Windows_8.png

That's it. It'll immediately apply the given background image as Start Screen background and will also disable the option to change Start Screen background image in personalization page. Users will only be able to change Start Screen background color and accent color. If you want to enable the option again in future, change the value to "Disabled" or "Not Configured".

Using Registry Editor (regedit.exe):

1. Type regedit in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Personalization

If you can't find "Personalization" key, you'll need to create it manually.

3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD ForceStartBackground and set its value to any number between 1 to 14 or any letter between a to f. The first 9 background image IDs are defined by numbers 1-9 respectively in Registry. Then Windows Registry uses letters from a-f to define next 6 background image IDs. Remaining last 5 background image IDs are defined by numbers from 10-14 in Registry.

Restrict_Change_Start_Screen_Background_Image_Windows_8.png

In future if you want to enable the option again, either delete the DWORD or change its value to 0

METHOD 3: Restrict Users from Using Images as Start Screen Background

You can use either Group Policy Editor or Registry Editor according to your requirements:

Using Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc):

1. Press "WIN+R" key combination to launch RUN dialog box, then type gpedit.msc and press Enter. It'll open Group Policy Editor.

2. Now go to:

Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Desktop Window Manager

3. In right-side pane, double-click on "Use solid color for Start background" option and set its value to "Enabled".

Set_Solid_Color_Start_Screen_Background_Windows_8.png

That's it. It'll immediately disable Start Screen background image feature and users will not be able to set any image as Start Screen background. They'll be able to change Start Screen background color and accent color. If you want to enable the feature again in future, change the value to "Disabled" or "Not Configured".

Using Registry Editor (regedit.exe):

1. Type regedit in RUN dialog box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DWM

If you can't find "DWM" key, you'll need to create it manually.

3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD DisableAccentGradient and set its value to 1

Restrict_Start_Screen_Background_Image_Windows_8.png

In future if you want to enable the button again, either delete the DWORD or change its value to 0

=== === === === === === === === ===

That's it. Using above mentioned methods you'll be able to restrict users from accessing all or selected personalization options to customize Start Screen background image and color in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. You can also use combination of these methods to set desired restrictions.





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Posted in: Windows 8 / 8.1


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Comments

  • Wow. Thanks VG for this tutorial.

  • Why in the world would you want to do this?
    Users need to customize their start menu to match what they do.
    Maybe they barely use word. And they don't need it on top.

    Being able to revoke permissions doesn't mean it is useful

    Please someone explain

  • Explanation1:
    In a corporate setting, you may be liable for anything displayed on any computer owned by the corporation. To reduce liability, you restrict those who work for you from creating liability to protect the corporation, the industry and the investors in the corporation.
    Explanation2:
    To reduce overhead costs in personnel and software consumption, restrictions are placed to prevent users from installing unwanted software that puts the entire network at risk. Besides the employees should be working rather than worrying about how their work computer looks.
    Explanation3: These work computers where an IT person is making these changes the corporation has deemed valuable, belong to the corporation not the worker. Similar to a company car that belongs to the company and not the person who is supposed to be using it to get the job done they were paid to.

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