How to Change Wallpaper & Personalize Windows 10/11 Without Activation

It is only a matter of time before most users want to have a new desktop, for this the first thing we do is change the wallpaper after installing a new operating system. I hope so! I personally change the theme…

While most of the OS can be used for free without giving any activation key, it gets quite annoying if you do not have access to the personalization menus if you love having custom colors, sounds, a start menu, taskbar settings and even your background. Applying new wallpaper is fortunately impossible despite some of the blocked menu options.

However, applying customization to a copy of Windows 10 that has not been activated might not be as straightforward as Microsoft blocks access to the software’s personalization settings without an authentic product license. This guide helps you change the wallpaper and personalize your desktop without activation.

Personalizing Windows 10 Without Activation

Clicking right on any picture file around a non-activated installation shall still provide you with the option to “set as desktop background” and the same could be done by clicking right in the web browser and the “..” menu in the photos application.

Now, other settings like custom sounds and colors can also be applied.

ALSO TRY: Dark Mode Theme Packs for Windows 10.

Change Lockscreen wallpaper without activation

If you have a Microsoft account with theme settings synced to it from a licensed copy then all those shall be applied to the non-activated copy as soon as you log in for the first time.

Now, you may wonder how this is enabled; sync is enabled by default and includes “theme” settings, which also includes wallpapers, but this feature not only transfers your wallpaper of that is the only thing you have customized on it, and in our experience, the settings of theme which are synced might not be the most recent.

Users can also get this or create a theme-pack file (a cab archive that carries a theme file and images), which can still be opened on this. Launching this shall apply any settings in this along with automatically rotating through the wallpapers inside the archive, which might be of interest considering wallpaper slideshows are disabled otherwise in the personalization menu.

Personalization Menu

Some quirks are there with using theme packs in this of course, like the inability to tweak one color without even switching to a whole new one, and they also change different settings so you may try out many packs till you get the black text again for instance.

You can also not apply the same twice or select it from the menu again after applying a new one (renaming and reapplying the same one simultaneously works). now, as this has been said, users can create a custom file of this from the GUI options of a genuine copy of Windows by clicking right on the theme in the personalization menu and clicking on “save theme for sharing” to create one file.

Users can manually modify an existing one or create a new one from scratch.

ALSO TRY: Enable Gpedit.msc in Windows 10/11 Home Edition.

Unactivated Windows Wallpaper Change

Remember that you can extract the contents of a .themepack file with Explorer by changing it to .cab, while Cab pack which is software makes it quite easy to repack files into a new cab archive.

The same page shall also provide users with product keys purchased somewhere else, also keep in mind that keys are available for $15 or so on eBay, however, mileage shall vary and the keys acquired on a cheap may only work for a few weeks that too if you are lucky.

ALSO TRY: CPU Usage and RAM Widgets for Desktop.

Activating Windows

Disable Activation Watermark from Desktop

You can disable it, this is displayed on the bottom right of the desktop on this (one that says ”activate windows – go to settings to activate this”)

Disable Activation Watermark

  • You need to type “Regedit” into the start or Run to launch the registry editor.
  • After this navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SoftwareProtectionPlatform\Activation
  • In the right pane of “activation”, double click on “notificationDisabled”, and change DWORD value from 0 to 1.
  • Reboot your system for the changes to take place. (In our case logging out did not work).

Find some wallpaper in the following directories:



After reading the above steps, you should be able to personalize Windows 10/11 without activating it. This also goes for changing theme, wallpaper, or other personalization without activation. This is useful for various reasons e.g. changing the account picture, lock screen, or even the color of the taskbar.

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Lee White
Lee is currently a full-time writer at DekiSoft that is eager to discover new and exciting advancements in Technology, Software, Linux and Cyber Security. Lee has spent the past 18 years working as an Systems Engineer providing support for various operating systems and networks. When not at his desk or writing, you will find him tinkering with retro tech.

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