How to Change Wallpaper on Unactivated Windows

How to Change Wallpaper on Unactivated Windows

How to Change Wallpaper on Unactivated Windows

Being able to set custom wallpapers on the desktop gives us a variety of personalized experiences and ecstasy as we use our personal computers to do one thing or the other. Sometimes, you just want cool-looking artwork as your wallpaper. Sometimes, you want that football player that you fancy or just a scene from that video game that catches your interest staying on your screen background as you use your computer. And Windows give us the ability to do this. Oh, only if you are running an activated Windows version.

The moment your Windows OS activation key expires, you no longer have the ability to use custom wallpaper or change the current one to the new one you would like to have there. It is the same if you are running an unactivated copy of Windows. The Windows Settings program through which you can change the wallpaper to a new one just does not allow users to do such when unless the Windows copy or version is an activated one.

However, there is a workaround. There are ways you can change your desktop wallpaper even when the copy of the operating you are running is not activated. If you are looking for how to change the wallpaper on unactivated Windows, this post will surely benefit you. Take your time to enjoy the read.

Let us start with what happens when you do not activate the Windows 10 running on your PC

The Windows 10 operating system downloaded by anyone for free, however, without the activation key. Due to this, the user will be restricted from accessing various services and features that come with using this copy of Windows. The restriction can be so much that in fact, even the entire Personalization menu in Settings disabled, hence, stopping you from being able to change various appearance options for your PC.

Fortunately, there are other ways to change the desktop background on Windows 10 without using Settings. Some of these alternative ways are described in this post. You can use any of them to change your wallpaper on an unactivated Windows 10 copy.

Before we continue, be aware that we do not support the use of unactivated Windows copies. We strongly recommend that you pay for the Windows 10 license key to enjoy the various functionalities and features that it has in the pack. Upon activation, you can know it has successfully been done with the usual “Activate Windows 10” watermark that lingers around the bottom right corner of your screen disappearing and the access to the normal Personalization options now activated.

There are several ways to upgrade to a genuine, activated version of the operating system. One of these is using the Activation screen in Windows 10’s Settings app which can be found on this route; Settings > Update & Security > Activation.

In the meantime, let us see how you can access personalized features on your unactivated copy of Windows 10. These various ways you can change the desktop wallpaper without using the Settings are:

  • Using File Explorer
  • Using Firefox
  • Using Internet Explorer
  • Using Group Policy

How to change the Windows 10 desktop wallpaper using File Explorer

File Explorer is a utility program that allows us to browse files and folders on the Windows operating system. This program comes with all versions of this operating system including the modern ones. This program’s utilities go beyond just opening and browsing files and documents. It can be used to set any image on your computer or external storage as the desktop background. Doing this is not necessarily hard. You just need to follow the steps given below.

  • Get started by opening the folder that contains the wallpaper image with File Explorer.
  • On getting hold of the image, right-click it and select Set as desktop background.
  • This immediately changes the desktop background and updates it to the one you have just set.

Note that you can use one of Windows 10’s stock wallpapers as the desktop background. To do this, copy the address below and paste it onto the address bar at the top of the File Explorer window:


Then open each of the three folders seen in the new window to find one that suits your need. Now, follow the steps given earlier to set a new desktop background with your preferred wallpaper.

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Change the unactivated Windows 10 desktop background by using Firefox

If you have the Mozilla Firefox web browser installed on your computer, it can provide a way of changing the desktop background wallpaper even when you are running an unactivated copy of Windows 10. This browser provides one of the easiest ways to use wallpaper as the desktop background on any version of Windows and some other operating systems. To use the Firefox browser to set a new wallpaper on the desktop, follow the steps given below.

  • Start by launching the Mozilla Firefox browser, and then navigate to the web page where your desired wallpaper is located.
  • Then right-click on the wallpaper image and select Set As Desktop Background.
  • Then appears a box that lets you define how the wallpaper appears on your desktop. Images have different heights and widths sizes and hence, the way they appear on your desktop background will vary. You can use the Position dropdown on this box to select different positioning to find the one that fits the wallpaper very well on the desktop. For example, the Stretch option allows the wallpaper to fit the entire screen even when its original dimensions do not support that.
  • Use the Preview feature to see how it would look on the desktop.
  • Finally, click on Set Desktop Background to complete the process.

How to change the unactivated Windows 10 desktop wallpaper using Internet Explorer

You do not have to install a certain browser, like Mozilla Firefox as mentioned earlier just because you want to set your preferred wallpaper as the desktop background on your computer. If you are a user of Edge browser, well, that works too. The advantage of this, just as using Mozilla Firefox, the Edge browser eliminates the need of downloading the wallpaper before you can set it as the desktop background. The entire task can be done on the browser. However, it is worthy of note that neither Google Chrome nor Microsoft Edge offers this option. You need to rely on either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox as earlier mentioned to do this. The steps involved given below.

  • Open the Windows Start menu, and search for Internet Explorer.
  • Now select the browser from the search results.
  • Then navigate to the web page where your wallpaper is located.
  • Locate the image you would like to use as the desktop background, right-click it, and select Set as background. Ensure that the image must be in one of the following file formats: JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, DIB, JFIF, JPE, TIF, TIFF, or WDP.
  • Finally, you will see a confirmation prompt on your screen. Click Yes in it to confirm your action.

Warning: Avoid as much as you can, the use of the Internet Explorer browser as it phased out in favor of modern browsers such as Microsoft Edge. Regardless, there are still distinct features on Internet Explorer that cannot be seen on Microsoft Edge.

How to change the Windows 10 desktop wallpaper using Group Policy

Another tool you can use to change the desktop background on your computer running an unactivated Windows 10 is the Local Group Editor. This is perhaps one of the hardest ways to change the desktop background on your computer and you may only want to resort to it if, although quite impossible, the above methods did not work for you. The Local Group Editor is much like the Registry Editor and it allows you to customize your wallpaper style as per your requirements. To get started, follow the steps below.

  • Press the Win+R to start the Windows Run command.
  • Next, type gpedit.msc, and press the Enter button to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  • Then, navigate to the path given below:

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop > Desktop

  • On the window, you can find a setting called Desktop Wallpaper.
  • Double-click on it, and select the Enabled option.
  • Now enter the path of the image in the Wallpaper Name box.
  • Then expand the Wallpaper Style drop-down list.
  • Lastly, select a style that suits your wallpaper.
  • Finally, click on the OK button to save and apply the changes.

How to go back to the Default Windows 10 desktop wallpaper

Ideally, Windows 10 gives you access to all the stock wallpapers. Hence, you can open this wallpapers folder and set the original wallpaper as your desktop background. To do this, you would need to follow these steps:

  • Open the Windows File Explorer window, and paste the address below to the address bar:


  • Locate the Windows default wallpaper, right-click it, and select Set as desktop background.

Departing Thoughts

You might not know, but you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free using a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key. This works for most users at the time of making this post. However, it not guaranteed to still work for everyone in the future. Here you have it. If none of the methods given above works for you, let us know in the comment section.

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