Setting the Desktop Wallpaper Background with Group Policy is a fairly common request from administration or management. Unfortunately, the actual setup is not as straightforward as you would think. As with any Microsoft product, there are a myriad of ways to configure this and every way has a unique set of features (and drawbacks). In this guide, we will cover two ways of setting the desktop wallpaper background with Group Policy plus a few tricks that you’ll need to know first.
Before configuring even a single option – ask yourself these two questions first:
- Do you want your users to be able to change their backgrounds from one you set?
- Do you want a group of users or a group of computers (such as a physical site) to have the same background?
As you can probably guess, the answer to the first question depends on if you want to use a policy or preference to configure the desktop wallpaper. A preference allows you to set a default background for your users and can be configured to let them change it to something that suits their taste. A Policy locks down any wallpaper background settings! It is an “IT-On-High” kind of mandate.
Your answer to question 2 will determine your need for Loopback Policy Processing. It will also depend on the type of users that you manage. I work in education – most education organizations (at least K-12) tend to restrict this kind change.
Unrelated to this article, there tends to be an (overblown) fear that students will set their background to something inappropriate. In 2 years, I have had 3 cases of this. Thankfully, I have Administrators with some humor! Those three students now have this custom (and locked) background set for them: