Posted by Dave Thijssen Thursday 20 December 2012

Enabling the Terminal Server feature on Windows Server limits the display of Desktop Wallpapers. This is done to prevent excessive bandwith consumption. In some situations however, you would like to configure a wallpaper to display, for example, your company logo.

Group Policies allow you to set an Active Desktop wallpaper. An Active Desktop wallpaper, unfortunately is heavy on system resources, less secure because it can run web content, and has a higher probability of failures.

Setting a simple, static, Bitmap image as a wallpaper can be done using a centrally managed, custom Administrative Template that is part of a Group Policy Object (GPO). In Windows Server 2003 an Administrative Template takes the form of an .adm file. Below are the contents of such a file.

  CATEGORY "Desktop"
    POLICY "Desktop Wallpaper"
      KEYNAME "Control Panel\Desktop"
      EXPLAIN "Configure a Static (Non-Active Desktop) Wallpaper."
      PART "Specify a path to a Bitmap (.bmp) file and configure the wallpaper style." TEXT
      END PART
      PART "Wallpaper Path:" EDITTEXT
        VALUENAME "Wallpaper"
      END PART
        VALUENAME "WallpaperStyle"
          NAME "Centered" VALUE "0" DEFAULT
          NAME "Tiled" VALUE "1"
          NAME "Stretched" VALUE "2"
      END PART

    POLICY "Desktop Background Color"
      KEYNAME "Control Panel\Colors"
      EXPLAIN "Configure the Desktop Background Color."
      PART "Enter RGB values between 0 and 255 seperated by spaces. E.g. 0 0 255 for blue." TEXT
      END PART
      PART "RGB Values:" EDITTEXT
        VALUENAME "Background"
        DEFAULT "0 0 0"
      END PART


Save the code above in a plain text file with the extention ".adm".
Or download the file here.

Instructions to use this custom policy:
  1. Create a new Group Policy Object (GPO) or open an existing one. Open the GPO in "Group Policy Management" or the "Group Policy Object Editor".
  2. Under "User Configuration" right-click the "Administrative Templates" node.
  3. Click "Add/Remove Templates...".
  4. Click "Add" and browse to the .adm file.
  5. Click "Close".
  6. Important: while the "Administrative Templates" node is selected open the "View" menu and click "Filtering...". Uncheck "Only show policy settings that can be fully managed".

The Desktop Wallpaper and Desktop Background Color settings are now available for configuration under Administrative Templates\Desktop (Path; Style/Position: Centered, Tiled, Stretched; Color). Configure the options as desired and link the GPO to an appropriate OU.

UNC paths are permitted.

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