Customizing Windows

More Than 200 Hacks,Tweaks,Moods,and Customizations.

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Customizing The Logon Screen - Chapter 1

Windows XP has introduced a great new way to log on to your computer, known as the Welcome screen. The new Welcome screen provides a refined method to log on compared to the old boring Windows 2000 logon screen. Not only does the new screen look good, but users can now see all of the users set up on the machine and can easily log on by clicking the user’s name.

This Welcome screen has provided a nice alternative to the old logon method, but some people just don’t like change and want the old logon method back. If you are one of the users that wants to say goodbye to the Welcome screen, then this section will not only help you get it back, but it also will show you some neat tricks to make it a little more visually appealing. If you thought the new logon screen is cool, you will love this next section about making the Welcome screen even cooler.

Working with the Welcome screen
The Welcome screen is one of the most versatile parts of the whole operating system. It is possible to customize the heck out of this screen. You can completely change the way it looks, the locations of all of the buttons and images, and much more. You can even restrict what is displayed on it. The Welcome screen is great for users that want to customize their boxes.

Changing a users icon on the Welcome screen
Each user that is set up on your computer can associate an image that appears next to his or her name on the Welcome screen. By default,Windows will randomly select an image for you, but this selection can easily be changed. If you do not like the images that Windows has to offer, you can select any other image. The process of changing a user’s image is very simple. Just perform the following steps and you will have it changed in no time:

1. Open up the user manager by clicking the Start menu and selecting Run. Then type in nusrmgr.cpl and click OK. This is a shortcut to User Accounts that will save you time going to Control Panel and then clicking the User Accounts icon.

2. This will start up the New User Accounts Manager.To change a user’s picture, just click the user name.

3. Then, click Change My Picture text and you will see a screen with all of the different images that are built into Windows XP.

4. If you see one you like, just select it by clicking it and then click the Change Picture button.If you do not like any of them, click the Browse for More Pictures option.

5. This will pop up a Browse dialog box. Browse though your files and select the image that you want to use, and click Open. Any image that you select will automatically be resized to fit. If you want to make a image that will take up all of the space, the correct aspect ratio is 1 to 1, as the size of the square that is displayed is 48 _ 48 pixels.

Now you have changed a user’s Welcome screen image and also the image that is displayed in that user’s Start panel.

Removing a user from the Welcome screen
One of the unfortunate side effects of the Welcome screen is the listing of all of the user accounts on the computer.What if there is an account that you do not want the whole world to see? Using the same feature that Microsoft uses to hide system accounts from the Welcome screen, you can hide user accounts as well.

Hiding user accounts can be done by a simple hack in the registry. Hidden away in the local system settings is a list of accounts that Microsoft does not want to appear on the Welcome screen. These accounts are primarily system accounts under which different processes that run in the background use to execute.

To hide a user from the Welcome screen, all you have to do is create an entry on the list for the user you want to hide. Follow these steps to find out how to add a user to the list:

1. Click the Start button and select Run, then type regedit in the box and click OK.

2. This will start up the system Registry Editor. You are going to want to expand the following keys: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, Microsoft,Windows NT,
CurrentVersion,Winlogon, SpecialAccounts, and UserList.

3. You should now see the list of the account names, and parts of account names, that the system will look for and will hide.To add a name to the list, just right-click and select New 1 DWORD value, as shown in Figure 1-10. A DWORD is a specific data type of an entry in the system registry. In short, the DWORD data type allows an integer value to be stored.

4. When the new key is created, enter in the name of the user’s account as the name of the key. Once you have done this, you can close regedit. After log off and back on or reboot, the user will not be displayed on the Welcome screen. If you ever want to log into the account that you hid from the Welcome screen, just press Ctrl_Alt_Delete on your keyboard once, twice, and you will be able to type in the name of the user under which you want to log in. This way, you can hide an account from your family or friends but can still log into it. If you ever change your mind and want the account to be displayed on the Welcome screen again, just delete the entry that you made in the list in the System Registry and everything will be back the way it was.

Changing the Welcome screen
The new blue Welcome screen looks great, but after a while, a change would be nice. Also, modifying the Welcome screen is another way you can customize your computer and make it more unique. You can change the Welcome screen by two different methods using different tools. As with the methods to change the boot screens, there are different advantages to each. The first way to change the Welcome screen will be a manual approach that may not be the easiest method available but will allow you to use any of the thousands of hacked logon screens
on the Web. The other method will be much easier, but it will be limited to only using
Welcome screens that were made especially for the program.

Manually changing the Welcome screen
Changing the Welcome screen manually is not as complicated as you would think. A value in the registry needs to be changed to point to the Welcome screen you want to use. Once you do that, you are finished. To get started, you are going to want to download a few Welcome screens (also referred to as logon screens) from the Web. The following are two sites from which you can download thousands of Welcome screens:

_ ThemeXP:
_ Belchfire :

Visit both of these sites and download some different logon screens and then experiment with them.When selecting a boot screen, you need to find one that will look good with your screen’s current resolution. If you have a very large monitor (19-inch and greater) and are using a large resolution (1280 _ 1024 or greater), you may have difficulty finding Welcome screens that were made for your computer’s high resolution. If you are an owner of a large monitor or resolution, the only workaround or solution to the problem would be to create a logon screen of your own or write the author of the screen asking them to release a version for your specific resolution. Additionally, you will need to make sure the Welcome screens are compatible with your computer’s operating system version.

Just like the hacked system files for the boot screens, these Welcome screens are just another hacked system file, so you still have to watch out for version conflicts. Although if you accidentally downloaded a Welcome screen that is the wrong version, then you will have a far less serious problem than if you downloaded the wrong version of a boot screen.

You will find that a lot of the Welcome screens that you download do not have a version marked.To find what version you are selecting, just extract the ZIP file or self extracting archive, right-click it, and select Properties. Doing so will bring up the properties, and you will be able to see the version. If the version says 6.0.2600.0, then you have a Welcome screen file from the very first version of XP. On a computer with Windows XP Service Pack 1 installed, the logonui.exe file has a version number of 6.0.2800.1106. If the version is not similar to 6.0.2XXX.X then you may not have downloaded a valid file. In theory, if you replace a file with
an earlier version, you might run into some problems.

I replaced my newer Service Pack 1 Welcome screen with a Welcome screen that was made with a system file from the original version of Windows. I did not experience any problems, but I cannot guarantee that if you do the same you also will be problem-free. Also, security fixes or other enhancements might appear in the later version of the code, so if you replace the latest code with old code, you might be missing out on important updates. Experiment with caution and be aware of the risks. Now that you know what to watch out for, you are ready to start replacing the Welcome screen manually.To do so, follow these steps:

1. Click the Start button and select Run. Then type regedit in the box and click the OK button. This will start up the Registry Editor.

2. Expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, Microsoft,Windows NT, CurrentVersion, and lastly Winlogon. Now you will see several different values on the right side of the screen for many different logon properties. The property that we are interested in is named UIHost.

3. The UIHost property specifies the path to the Welcome screen that will be loaded
and displayed. Right-click UIHost from the list and select Modify.

4. Next, just type in the full path to the logonui.exe file or whatever you named your new Welcome screen. One thing to keep in mind: avoid storing your Welcome screens in a directory path that has spaces in the names of the directories. I suggest you create a folder on your hard drive called WelcomeScreens. So you will be changing the value of UIHost to C:\WelcomeScreens\CoolNewLogonUI.exe.

5. Once you make the change, it will go into effect immediately. If you click the Windows key_L at the same time, this will lock your computer and will bring up the new Welcome screen. If you ever want to revert to the default Windows XP Welcome screen, just change the UIHost property back to logonui.exe. (You may have to change the C to the correct drive letter on which you installed Windows.)

There must be a better way to change your screen than doing it manually, right? Well, yes and no. A few programs are available on the Web that will automate the editing of the system registry. One of the most popular programs is called Logon Loader, by Daniel Milner. Logon Loader allows you to easily change the Welcome screen by only clicking a few buttons.

Using LogonStudio to change the Welcome screen
LogonStudio is a software app that was developed by Stardock. This application is similar to the BootSkin application, discussed previously, in that it does not modify the system files. Although this method is very simple to use, the Welcome screens must be designed to work with LogonStudio. This is not a big deal, because there are hundreds of Welcome screens that people already made for this program, but users will find that they will not be able to use any of the thousands of Welcome screens made from hacked system files. Depending on what Welcome screen you like, you may or may not be able to use it with this program.

Although you have to give up a little flexibility in the screens that you can use, you will have added safety and ease of use. Because you will not be working with hacked system files, you don’t have to worry about getting the correct version and the possible problems that running an older version could cause. Also, using LogonStudio is very easy. You can change your Welcome screen with just a few clicks.

To get started, you will need to download a copy of LogonStudio at Stardock’s Web site: Once you have the app downloaded and installed, most likely you will want to download a cool Welcome screen to use with it. You can download hundreds of Welcome screens from the following sites:

_ WinCustomize:
_ SkinPlanet:
_ DeviantArt :
_ Skinbase:

Once you have downloaded a few screens, you can install them by just double-clicking them if they have a .logonxp file extension, which will open them up. If the files that you download do not have a .logonxp file extension and instead just have a .zip file extension, rename the files to .logonxp so that you can easily import them into LogonStudio. LogonStudio will then be started automatically and will display the new Welcome screen in the preview box, when the files are double-clicked.

If for some reason the Welcome screen that you download does not have a .logonxp fileextension, and is just a .zip file with a folder containing several bitmap image and configuration files, you can still install the Welcome screen. If you have a Welcome screen that fits that description, then you will just have to manually copy the folder with the Welcome screen files to the LogonStudio folder that is normally located at C:\ProgramFiles\WinCustomize\ LogonStudio.

Tip: When you browse to the LogonStudio folder, you will notice that each Welcome screen has its own folder with the files for the Welcome screen inside. If you ever want to delete a Welcome screen, just delete the folder with the corresponding name.

Changing the Welcome screen with LogonStudio is very easy to do. Just click the name of the screen from the available logons list. A preview will show up in the preview box, and if you like it, click Apply or OK and you are finished.

Depending on your computer setup, you may experience problems when using some Welcome screens with monitors that are set at a large resolution. If you experience a problem like this with a specific Welcome screen, you are out of luck.Try finding a different version of the Welcome screen that was made for higher resolutions. This can be very difficult because resolution data is usually not posted with the Welcome screens.

Tip: If you ever want to revert to the original system Welcome screen, just click the Restore Default XP Logon button and it will uninstall the LogonStudio app and prevent it from taking over the Welcome screen. You will also have to do this if you are using LogonStudio to display a Welcome screen and then want to use a hacked system file Welcome screen. First, you will have to start up LogonStudio and click the Restore Default button, and then you can edit the registry to point to the new Welcome screen. If you do not click the Restore button in LogonStudio, then you will never see your new hacked system file because LogonStudio will still be active and will automatically replace it.

Creating your own Welcome screen from a hacked system file
When users first started to change their Welcome screen, they used the same approach that was used with the boot screens. Resource-hacking tools such as Resource Hacker were used to replace the bitmaps that are stored inside the logonui.exe file. Then, they would adjust the
string values within the file with the same tool to change the layout of the screen. Although there are now apps that were built to make Welcome screens easier, I still believe that the best way to create a Welcome screen by hacking your system file is to use Resource Hacker. I have had problems with other tools that attempt to automate the process of hacking the system file resources because the programs will usually only work with one version of the system file. If you have a newer system file than the program was designed to work with, then you won’t see the Welcome screen.

As I stated earlier, the best way to create a Welcome screen from a hacked system file is to do it manually using a cool app called Resource Hacker ( resourcehacker), written by Angus Johnson. This method will allow you the greatest amount of flexibility because you are not limited to the features of a Welcome screen editor. Although this method is a little complex, it is the best way to create a high-quality and unique Welcome screen.

I am going to show you the basics of how to get started, but I am not going to go into great detail on all of the great things that you can do because there are just too many. Instead, at the end, I will tell you about some great Web sites that I use as references when I want to make a Welcome screen from scratch.

1. The first step is to make a copy of your logonui.exe file. This file can be found in the System32 directory inside the Windows directory. The exact path is usually C:\WINDOWS\system32. Copy the file to a new folder, maybe your Welcomescreen folder. Also, feel free to rename the file at this time. You can name it anything you want, because when you want to install it, you just have to enter the path and the file name in the registry as you did above when installing a custom hacked system file Welcome screen.

2. Next, you can start editing the bitmaps in the file.To do this, I recommend using Resource Hacker. You can download a copy of Resource Hacker by visiting Once you get a copy up and running, open up the logonui file that you just copied. You can do this by clicking the file menu bar item and selecting the file from your drive.

3. Once the file loads in Resource Hacker, you will see an interface similar to Windows Explorer. You will have four folders: UIFILE, Bitmap, String Table, and Version Info.To get started, expand the Bitmap folder. You will then see several more folders that are numbered. Every numbered folder contains a different image. Expand the numbered folder for a preview of the image that is stored inside it.

4. Now let’s assume that you want to extract one image out of Resource Hacker so that you can modify it using your favorite paint program and then replace the old image with your modified one.To extract an image, make sure that the image you want is selected and displayed in the preview pane and then click the Actions item from the menu and select Save [Bitmap : XXX : XXXX ], where the X’s are numbers. Once you have an image modified, or if you want to completely replace an existing image, click the Action menu bar item again. Select Replace Bitmap. This will bring up a new screen that will list all of the bitmaps in the file. Click the Open File With New Bitmap button and select the image you want to import. Make sure it is a Windows Bitmap file, as JPEGs and GIFs will not work! Next, scroll through the list, and select the image that you want to replace. Click the Replace button and you are finished.

5. Once you get all of the bitmap images swapped out with ones you made yourself, you can move on to editing some of the strings in the string table folder. This is where all of the font names and text that appear on the Welcome screen is stored. You can edit the text just like using a text editor. Just be careful that you do not accidentally delete a quote from the ends of the strings. Also, do not change the index numbers or you will run into problems. Once you are finished editing a specific string table, just click the Compile Script button and you are finished with the strings.

6. The next part allows you to be really creative but it also can be really complex. The UIFILE folder stores all of the detailed configuration information for the screen. Items such as transparency levels and font sizes are stored here.When you first view the UIFILE 1033 resource, you may not see anything at all. Just scroll down and you will begin to see the script. Just like the string table, when you are finished editing it, click the Compile Script button.

7. The last step is to save your changes to the file by clicking the File menu bar item again and just click Save. Now, you can edit the registry to test out your new screen. It will probably take you a little while to finally get the screen the way you want it. One site that I use as a reference is called Windows XP Logon Screen Secrets, written by Paul Andrews, which is located at This is a great site that will tell you all of the details on how to modify the UIFILE so that you can get the most out of your Welcome screen.

Creating a Welcome screen with LogonStudio
LogonStudio is not only a great program to change your Welcome screen with, but it also is a good program to create it with too. If you do not want to waste a few hours manually perfecting your Welcome screen and do not desire the flexibility the manual approach offers, then using LogonStudio is the app for you.

Creating a Welcome screen with LogonStudio is very simple. Also, you can easily edit Welcome screens that you downloaded by clicking the Edit button from within LogonStudio when you have selected a screen. However, some of the screens will not be able to be edited because significant changes have been made to Logon Studio recently that make some of the earlier Welcome screens incompatible with the editor. To create a new Welcome screen from scratch, follow these steps:

1. First, if LogonStudio is not already started, start it up from the Start menu’s All Programs menu in the WinCustomize folder. Once it is started, click the New button. This will bring up a new window that will ask you for details on the new Welcome screen, such as the name and the author’s information. Fill it out, and then click the Create button.

2. Next, the editor will show up and you will see what looks like the default Windows XP Welcome screen. The best way to get started is to just start playing around with different features.When working in the editor, there are two different ways to select an item to work on. You can just click most items, but if you want to get to an item faster, or an item that you cannot click, use the Elements browser. Using the editor is a lot like programming in Microsoft’s Visual Basic.When you click an element, you will see a list of properties appear in the Properties browser.

3. For example, let’s assume that you want to change the background color.To do this, you can click the blue background, or you can select the Center Panel from the Elements browser. Once the Center Panel is selected, you will see several properties appear in the Property browser. The ones that you will be interested in working with to change the background color are Firstcolor and Lastcolor.To change the color, just click the color boxes in the Property browser and select a new color.

4. Working with images is also very easy with the editor. If you want to set a photo or an image you made as the background for the Welcome screen, you can just select the [Bitmap] property of the picture properties item from the Center Panel element browser. Once you select your bitmap and it is displayed, you may want to change how it is displayed such as if it is a pattern and you want it titled or if you want it stretched across the screen.To do that, just click the Style properties drop-down box and select the style you want.

5. Replacing the images for the different buttons is also very easy. Just use your mouse to select the image that you want to change, and then one property, called [Bitmap], will appear in the Properties browser. Just click the three dotted icon in the Properties browser. A new dialog box will pop up, giving you the option to edit or browse. If you click Edit, the image will open up in MS Paint for you to edit it. If you already have a new image that you want to use, then just click Browse and select the replacement.

Tip: When you are creating graphics for your Welcome screen and want parts of the image to be transparent, such as the background around a button you made, just paint the background with the light pink color (Red: 255, Green: 0, Blue: 255). This is the default color for transparency in Windows.

6. You will not always want some elements in the Welcome screen. For example, you probably won’t want the dividers that appear in the center of the screen and the dividers at the top and bottom sections. These dividers are just images. One easy way to get rid of them is to click the center divider line to bring up the Dividers property browser, then just click the three dotted icons and uncheck the Use Picture box when the dialog box pops up.

7. Editing the text of the Welcome screen is just like editing the text in any word processing program. Just click the text, and you will see all of the properties in the Property browser for the font, size, and color. You can even change what the text says by modifying the Caption property.

8. The area that displays the users account, known as the User Account element, may take the most time to get it looking the way you want. Dozens of different properties are in this area, one of which specifies the location of the user’s accounts on the Welcome screen. This property is called the Account property. It shows a number that signifies a region on the screen. Click the button to the right of the number and you will get a visual map of the different locations. Select a location by clicking it. Another type of property in this section is the Alpha properties, which has three subproperties. These have to do with how visible the accounts are at different stages. 0 is not visible at all and 255 is completely visible. The Alpha Mouse subproperty is used to adjust the Alpha levels when the mouse is hovering over the name block. Alpha Selected is when the user has clicked the name and Alpha Normal is when the name has not been selected and the mouse is not hovering over it. BackColor is the name of another property in the section as well, which sets the background color for the account.When using this part of the editor, I discovered a small bug in the preview window. For some reason, the preview does not show the back color of the user’s account. Instead, it just displays the blue gradation bitmap from the default Welcome screen. Don’t worry too much about this bug, because it is only in the preview screen and will not affect your Welcome screen when it is in use. Once you change the color, the color change is saved, just not displayed.

9. You now know about all of the different parts of the editor and the basics of how to
make a good-looking Welcome screen. Once you are finished, click the Save button (the two disks) and you are finished. If you want to save and view the Welcome screen at the same time, click the Logon menu bar item and select Save and Apply.

You now know the ins and outs of creating your own Welcome screen using LogonStudio. I personally use the method to create and manage my Welcome screens. It is just easier than using the resource hacker and I can live without the added flexibility that the resource hacker provides.

LogonStudio also has a feature that allows you to import hacked system file Welcome screens that you used in the first section on changing the Welcome screen. Although this feature makes it a little easier to convert the Welcome screen to the new format by extracting the images, usually the layout and all of the strings are messed up and require adjustment. If you have a lot of free time, try experimenting with this feature. I have not yet been able to get it to work 100
percent of the time.

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