How To: Fix Unable to Change Desktop Wallpaper

Applies to: Windows XP


You are unable to change the Windows desktop background (wallpaper). The Background list in Display Properties, Desktop is grayed out (disabled). If you right-click a picture and click "Set as Desktop Background", it has no effect.


The ability to change the background color or picture from a default setting can be disabled using a policy setting stored in the Windows Registry. This may have been set by the system administrator in the case of a company PC. If the facility to change the desktop wallpaper is disabled in a home PC then this is usually the result of some malware that has changed the policy setting maliciously.


Using the Registry Editor

Carry out the following steps:

These steps should restore the ability to change the desktop wallpaper in the majority of cases.

Using a registry edit file

This is a simpler way to perform the steps described above.

Further things to try

If the above steps do not resolve the issue, here are some further things to try: