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

It 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:


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

Once you find the suitable image, just right click it and choose Set as desktop background from the context menu. The image will be set as your desktop background ignoring the fact that Windows 10 is not activated.

Option two. Use Internet Explorer.
Open Internet Explorer:

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

Open it and then right click it in Internet Explorer.

In the context menu, select Set as background:The image will be set as your wallpaper after a confirmation:

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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23 thoughts on “Change Windows 10 desktop wallpaper without activation

  1. Anonymous

    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. Nine

    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. V2

      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. sadboi

    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. Del Pin

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

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

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


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