Change Windows 10 desktop wallpaper without activation

Once Windows 10 is installed but not activated, the user cannot change personalization options. They are locked until Windows 10 is activated. Until then, it is not possible to use Personalization to change the desktop background image. Here is a workaround.


When Windows 10 is not activated, the Personalization page of the Settings app looks like this:Windows 10 not activated

Windows 10 not activated 2It prevents you from changing the Desktop wallpaper. But there is a trick which you can use to bypass this limitation.

How to change Windows 10 desktop wallpaper without activation

There are at least two ways to bypass this limitation and set the desired image as your Desktop background. You need to do the following.

Option one. Use File Explorer.
Open File Explorer and navigate to the folder where you store your wallpapers.
Tip: If you want to access stock Windows 10 wallpapers, they are located in the following folder:


Windows 10 web wallpaperThere you will find some subfolders which store all Windows 10 wallpapers:

Windows 10 web wallpaper subfolder 3 Windows 10 web wallpaper subfolder 2 Windows 10 web wallpaper subfolder 1Once you find the suitable image, just right click it and choose Set as desktop background from the context menu. Windows 10 set wallpaper in Windows 10 not activatedThe image will be set as your desktop background ignoring the fact that Windows 10 is not activated.Windows 10 wallpaper is set in Windows 10 not activated 2 Windows 10 wallpaper is set in Windows 10 not activated

Windows 10 new wallpaper 1 Windows 10 new wallpaper 2

Option two. Use Internet Explorer.
Open Internet Explorer:Windows 10 Start IE

Go to your favorite wallpapers web site or just Google the desired image.Windows 10 google image

Open it and then right click it in Internet Explorer.

In the context menu, select Set as background:Windows 10 IE context menuThe image will be set as your wallpaper after a confirmation:Windows 10 set backgroundWindows 10 IE image is set

Using this easy trick, you can easily change the desktop background image in non-activated Windows 10.

Watch the following video to see this trick in action:

Tip: You can subscribe to Winaero at YouTube.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

25 thoughts on “Change Windows 10 desktop wallpaper without activation”

  1. To change the lock screen background, open the image in Photos (the built-in Windows app for previewing images), click the three dots (…) at top right corner of Photos app, click Set as > Set as lock screen.

  2. Damn was hoping to find out how to change the fit cause mine is stuck on fill so everything zooms in and looks bad

    1. You could use a image manipulation tool such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP and manually change the image’s dimensions before setting it as a wallpaper. Yes very inconvenient but i guess that’s the price you pay for.

  3. I hate you so much for making my look like an idiot… it was so simple… all this time…

    thanks… *cries in the corner*

  4. Could you please tell us where did you get those beautiful wallpapers from? Especially the green leaves!

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi
      These are default images included in Windows.
      Open the C:\windows\web\wallpaper folder to see them.

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