Change the Login Screen Wallpaper in OS X Mavericks

Nov 4, 2013 - 65 Comments

Changing the login screens background wallpaper is a great way to customize the appearance of a Mac. The process of doing so seems to change with every release of OS X though, and that’s no different with swapping out the login wallpaper in OS X Mavericks. Changed yet again with OS X 10.9, you will find that rather than replacing a single file with a new image, you’ll have to replace four separate files to gain a similar customization of the login window, which is seen both upon system boot and with swapping logins with Fast User Switching.

Change the OS X Mavericks Login Screen Wallpaper

The walkthrough outlined below will replace the boring OS X Mavericks grey login screen background wallpaper with any image of your choice. But there is a catch: doing this will remove the Apple logo you see at the login screen, because what you’re really doing is replacing that Apple logo image with a larger picture that becomes the wallpaper.

Please review the full instructions before beginning this process. If any of this seems too complex or complicated, you’re probably better off waiting for a simpler solution or a third party tool that automates the process. We’re working on finding an easier solution, but in the meantime this works if you don’t mind sacrificing the Apple logo you see at the login screen.

Requirements:

  • Some patience, familiarity with Finder and modifying basic system files
  • A large image converted to PNG format that is the resolution of your screen or greater. Need a fancy image? Check out our wallpaper archives
  • No issue with losing the  Apple logo at the login screen to be replaced with your custom image

Comfortable with that? Don’t mind losing that  Apple logo above the user names at the authentication screen? Then you’re OK to proceed. You should probably back up your Mac real quick with Time Machine before beginning too, just in case you somehow wreak unintended havoc and replace or delete something outside the scope of this walkthrough. As usual, proceed at your own risk.

Changing the Login Screen Background Wallpaper in OS X Mavericks

  1. Find the image you want to use as the new login screen wallpaper, open it with Preview, and convert it to a PNG file by using “Save As” or “Export As” – the file must be a PNG document
  2. convert-image-to-png-for-wallpaper

  3. Return to the OS X Finder and make 4 (yes, four) copies of the PNG file, rename the files exactly to be the following: apple.png apple_s1.png apple_s1@2x.png apple@2x.png
  4. replacement-images-for-login-screen-wallpaper

  5. Create a new folder somewhere in the Finder (Desktop is good) named “loginscreenbackups” or something similar – if you don’t do this you will not be able to return to the default grey wallpaper
  6. Hit Command+Shift+G and go to the following lengthy directory path:
  7. /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Resources/
    (Split in two parts, that directory path is: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/ followed by Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Resources/)
    go-to-mavericks-folder-with-login-images

  8. Locate the files named “apple_s1.png”, “apple_s1@2x.png”, “apple.png”, and “apple@2x.png” and make a copy of these files in the previously created “loginscreenbackups” folder on the Desktop – you can do this by holding down OPTION while dragging the files
  9. back-up-original-login-screen-images

  10. Now drag and drop the four PNG files you created and named in step 2 into this Resources folder, replacing the existing files
  11. copy-images-for-login-wallpaper

  12. Confirm that you want to replace the images, you will need to authenticate with an admin password to confirm the file replacement
  13. confirm-login-screen-image-replacement

  14. The new images will now be in the Resources folder, visible as thumbnails, you’re just about done so close this window:
  15. replaced-images-for-new-login-screen

  16. To see the new login screen wallpaper, log out normally, summon the lock screen, or use Fast User Switching to bring about the changed imagery

In this walkthrough example we used a galaxy image as the replacement login wallpaper, which looks nice and fancy:

custom-os-x-mavericks-login-screen-background-image

Update: By request, here is the galaxy wallpaper used in our walkthrough:

Red and pink galaxy high resolution

Separately, and a much easier process, you can add a login screen message to this screen if desired. This is a good place to put a friendly message, or to put ownership details of the computer, like a phone number, name, and email address.

There may end up being a simpler way to do this, either through a single file replacement or a third party utility, but in the meantime this method has been confirmed to work with OS X Mavericks (10.9). Remember, the utilities and tricks that worked with changing login background images in prior versions of OS X, from Snow Leopard to the linen images within Lion and Mountain Lion, no longer have any effect. On the other hand, the method outlined above will carry back to Lion and Mountain Lion because they are replacing the Apple logo rather than the linen image.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

65 Comments

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  1. Shaggy says:

    When i drag the files to resources and authenticate it comes up with another window saying the item can’t be replaced because it’s invisible.

  2. Allan says:

    Congratulations this is very nice tutorial!!!

    Please send me this Wallpaper!! is beautiful!!

    Thanks

  3. Jason says:

    Beautiful wallpaper, where can I find it???

  4. Annie says:

    Thanks for the nice tutorial!!! The picture is gorgeous, where did you find it? The colors are amazing.

  5. Rob says:

    Software tools to be used instead are Onyx and Deeper.
    Make sure you get the Mavericks version.
    Keep it up

  6. Tristan says:

    Mine comes up with a grey bar down the bottom, where the Shut Down ect controls are. It looks like the image has been shifted too far upwards.

    • ziad says:

      same here, hmmm I don’t know perhaps it’s the image itself?

      anyone had the same problem?

      • Myles says:

        I have the same issue and it’s because when you replace the apple.png you are not changing the background. Instead you are changing the apple that is in the foreground so when that apple goes from the middle of the screen (boot) towards the top of the screen (above the logins) the wallpaper now also moves up and you are left with a grey bar.
        This tutorial is great IF you want to change the Apple but you are not changing the background.

        • Paul says:

          If you encounter the grey bar issue you simply must use a larger resolution image, it will span the entire background of the screen with a big photo. If you connect the Mac to an external monitor, use a resolution bigger than that display too.

          • mediter says:

            In my case I modified the image using Keynote, use a blank slide, adjust the slide size to 2560 by 1440,

            make sure the background image is centred and the bottom of the image aligns with the bottom of the page, the image dimension should be the same as your display’s resolution

            then export the slide to PNG file

  7. Don says:

    Will this replace the wallpaper on the gadgets desktop also. those ugly grey squares are driving me nuts.

  8. adam says:

    Hi, I suggest a Little Script what did the Jobs with scale, respect aspect ratio and all OSX Supported (10.4 < 10.9) :

    adam

  9. malpat says:

    Since it shifts upwards, you’d have to fit a larger picture.

    I have 1280×800 resolution, I needed a picture/wallpaper that was 1280×1280 to make up shift up at login. This gets rid of the grey bar, but also “hides” the shutdown/restart buttons. I say “hides” because the buttons are actually there, but invisible. Also, You can still click the area of the buttons and it will restart or shutdown

    • malpat says:

      Also to prevent zooming and/or get rid of the grey bar under the wallpaper you need to have an aspect ratio of 80 x 95. So in my case the width is 1280 (80 x 16 = 1280), then the length of the wallpaper should be 1520 (95 x 16 = 1520).

  10. Ed says:

    Actually, you can put the apple logo back by photoshopping the old files back on to the image that you’re going to place. In order to assure the apple logo is in the right position, make sure the final background image is at 72dpi. Place the apple icons with each one on a different layer – the darker apple beneath the lighter one. Slightly move one of the apple layers so that they are no longer aligned, and you’ll get a bevelled effect. Since the original apple images are pngs, the transparency effects are maintained. Save the image with the photoshopped apple logo on it and proceed as usual.

  11. marcell says:

    Can I change »only« the apple logo?

    • OSXDaily says:

      Yes, if you replace that file with a small transparent PNG it will replace the Apple logo only

      • Freeryder72 says:

        Just as an FYI:
        – To replace “only” the Apple logo, replace the apple_s1@2x.png file
        – To replace the entire background, replace the apple_s1.png file
        There is no need to replace all 4 images.

        If you want to still show the Sleep, Restart and Shutdown buttons, follow the advice below for adding them to the replacement image you will use instead of the apple_s1.png file.

  12. Ann says:

    I attempted to do this but my folder does not have a set of images with apple created png – how do I change the wallpaper then

  13. Mike Peterson says:

    Excellent guide! I use Pixelmator to edit, including adding my own custom text. Saved it in Pixelmator format first, which retains the “editable” layers, should I want to or need to modify or “tweak” it. Then completed the process per the instructions (saving and naming the 4 specified PNG files). WORKS GREAT!

    QUESTION: I am running 2 large monitors.
    How do you get the customized images to show on BOTH?

  14. fraajad says:

    For anyone wanting to keep the Apple icon, it’s pretty obvious: use an image editor to paste it into the wallpaper you’ll be replacing it with.

  15. fraajad says:

    Oh, and wanted to mention: capture a screenshot of the login screen by executing, in a shell:

    sudo screen -m -d bash -c “sleep 10; screencapture /Users/[username]/Pictures/picture.png”

    Replacing [username] for your own, obviously. This gives you 10 seconds to log out and hide the mouse cursor in the lower left corner.

  16. George says:

    and how exactly do you reverse this process?

    i’ve restored the original images but upon re-booting, the image still shows up, awkwardly with grey boxes around my login picture and text box.

    my drive is encrypted, which has a light grey boot screen instead of the darker one as it doesn’t yet have access to any files, but somehow, this replacement image is cached, even after i’ve cleared my cache with CleanMyMac 2.

  17. fraajad says:

    Some more quirks I found:

    The grey bar that you get is because the apple icon (which we’re replacing) is not centered vertically. The new wallpaper will be centered around the location where originally the apple icon is, so we must compensate.

    I found that the grey bar is 183 pixels (on my non-retina MBP screen, 1440×900). Take a screen shot and measure it for your own circumstances. So I added a horizontal padding bar of 2×183=366 pixels height on top of my wallpaper (making it a total of 1440×1266). Now my wallpaper covers the whole screen, no more grey bar at the bottom.

    But, now the restart / sleep / power buttons at the bottom are eclipsed by my wallpaper. They still work, but are invisible. So I ended up using a screenshot I had taken of the original login screen, and from that I pasted the bottom action icons into my custom wallpaper, making sure they end up in exactly the same place. While I was at it I copied the apple icon into it too.

    Now the only, minor, issue is that the restart etc. icons in the bottom have no “mouse over” effect.

    If anyone would like to see/reuse the image file I ended up copying (four times) into the …/Resources folder, leave a reply and I’ll upload it somewhere.

    • Ford says:

      I’d love to see the final product you ended up with. Even if I don’t use it directly, it will still be useful to know how to design, size and organize my own =).

      • fraajad says:

        @Ford

        There you go

        Please note these dimensions work for me on a NON-retina MBP, having a 1440×900 screen.

        For Retina MBPs you may get away with scaling up 2x
        (4x in terms of area) and trying some filter to sharpen the result (I use the excellent, free, GIMP for such things).

        In addition to what I posted earlier, I found two more little issues.

        The first one I hadn’t noticed while logging out and back in, but became apparent upon reboot. I had added a horizontal bar of 186px height at the top of my wallpaper, to offset the fact that the Apple logo which we are replacing isn’t vertically centered. But at boot the image is animated up into place.

        So you’ll want to actually fill the padding bar with something other than transparent pixels.

        Second thing, I suspect due to a rounding artifact in the image positioning, I had a grey vertical line of 1px width, at the left of my screen. So I added 1px vertical strips on either side.

        I’ll stop spamming now.

        So you’ll want to pad

  18. fraajad says:

    Sure, but this way we don’t need a second machine.

  19. ARV980 says:

    Hello, I was wondering if someone could host the original files for a Retina Macbook Pro. I backed mine up but I did Command Z in finder and it reverted without the original files. I no longer have an apple logo at my lock screen. I prefer the default look over the wallpaper and now I don’t have it. Thanks!

  20. Quetzlacoatl says:

    Hi,
    i want to put apple logo on middle top of the image but when I do this the logo is decentralized; i try to make on image with the exact size of my screen (1980*1080p) but i have a grey bar on the bottom.
    can U give me which is the exact size of the image for a full screen without compression or over screening the image?
    thanks ;)

  21. Kirk says:

    I followed these instructions and replaced the files with a larger background .png image but it isn’t showing up on the login screen; it’s still just gray but without the apple logo.

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, the same thing happened to me. No custom lock screen, just a blank grey background with the Name and Password boxes :/

  22. Luke says:

    Where is your desktop wallpaper from in step 6? May I have a link.

  23. Art says:

    Isn’t this just covering the grey background, rather than replacing it? My wife wants her ‘linen’ back from Mountain Lion.

    Is there a way to replace the solid grey with the ‘linen’ grey from Mountain Lion? Using the ‘grey linen’ file per instructions above just replaces the Apple logo with a square of ‘linen’. I made a bigger one by manually tiling and saving as .png, but I’d rather replace the grey background, not cover it.

    • @Art: I’m looking for the same solution.

      • Paul says:

        You could accomplish this using the trick described above, but you would have to use a large linen image at the same size as the Mac screen resolution. It’s not a perfect solution, but it would work. We’re actively looking for alternate methods to swap out the login screen background imagery with patterns or pictures, but have yet to find one that works in Mavericks.

  24. Spapky says:

    For a nearly perfect transition from the boot screen to the login screen only the pictures apple_s1.png and apple_s1@2x.png should be replaced with a picture of your preference otherwise the transition will look sloppy and out of place.

  25. david says:

    dosnt work

  26. Kwilly says:

    I’m trying to find the Apple.png images but they are not located in the directory you have given.

    Is there something I am doing wrong. There are a few poeple that can’t find them.

  27. Rulet says:

    Well, I did what is said in the instruction but that changed only login screen. The boot screen is the same as before.
    How to change boot screen?

  28. Mme says:

    Thank you so much, OS X Daily, for this HELPFUL set of instructions. Your suggestions worked great for me!! I am so much happier with my new GORGEOUS, colorful login wallpaper now! I also customized my own user image.

    For the new login wallpaper image:
    First I located and copied to a separate folder, one of the Apple-supplied desktop image wallpapers from
    /Library/Desktop Pictures/

    I figured these supplied images would have the right screen resolution and proportions for my Macbook Pro laptop.

    I chose one in the Nature folder called moon.
    In that separate folder where the moon image was copied, I opened it in Preview and adjusted the size for my screen to 1440 X 840 pixels and made sure the size proportionately box was UNCHECKED– since I decide to shave a bit off the initial height size of 900 pixels (to 840 pixels), so that the Sleep, Shutdown, Restart buttons would still be visible on my “new” login screen and NOT covered up by my new wallpaper!
    Then I exported or saved the modified moon image as a .png, as you instructed.
    Then I followed your instructions EXACTLY and copied my .png ’til I had 4 total copies; renamed the 4 images exactly as you instructed (very crucial step) and then copied those renamed .png images to the Resources folder as you instructed.
    /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Resources/

    which overwrites the original Apple supplied, ugly gray versions.

    If people reading your instructions follow them EXACTLY (and make sure to copy/ backup to a separate folder, the original 4 .png files you specify from Resources), your readers will be very satisfied.

    I left feedback on the Apple support feedback website, complaining that the Mavericks OS X plain gray login wallpaper is ugly, and that Apple should provide an EASY way to modify this ugly login screen in System Preferences. Please readers, let Apple know how ugly this login wallpaper is and suggest Apple provide a simpler fix: http://www.apple.com/feedback/

  29. Zo says:

    Hey maybe you can help me out. I forgot to save the original .png files. Now when I boot my computer it skips the login, I was hoping you could help me out with that. I believe it is due to me not saving the original .png that apple provided.

  30. k11h says:

    I’m having serious problems revering this “hack” back to its natural state. I have deleted the custom PNGs and put back the original ones, but still, during the login screen, my custom PNG is displayed.

    How on earth do I revert if THAT doesn’t work?

  31. iMacApplpro7 says:

    I accidentally deleted the backup apple.png, apple@2x.png, apple_s1.png and apple_s1@2x.png files. Is there any way of getting those files back? No, I don;t have those files in the /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LoginUIKit.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LoginUICore.framework/Resources directory as they are currently my new wallpaper.

  32. Karin says:

    Hi,

    I followed the steps and it worked, almost. The picture is too small for the screen and it’s placed high up towards the top of the screen so the top part of the picture isn’t visible. I’ve checked and the resolution is right, I have a macbook pro 13″ and the resolution is 1280×800.

    Please help?

    • PH says:

      Make the resolution of the picture to use as the login wallpaper just a tad bigger than screen resolution, if it’s offsetting that’s the easiest thing to do.

  33. Jason says:

    I’m sorry to ask but could anyone send me the original 4 pictures for OS X mavericks i had accidently used a video and did not warn me about backing the images up. if this is required i have the retina display model also.

  34. Christine says:

    I don’t want a fancy image nor a special message, I just want whatever image that came with Mountain Lion that I had chosen, presumably when I set up the user accounts.

    Also, I can only see my admin user in the user list. I have a second user name that just isn’t listed. I don’t want to set up the switch fast between users settings because that does nothing to get the logon appearance back for either user.

    It almost looked like a gray/white placematte. And the avatar image was in a square, not a circle.

    Why didn’t the Mavericks install just RETAIN the user logon preferences the same way it did the desktop preferences? How hard could that have been.

    I hate my log on screen. I just want it back to the way it was, and I don’t know where Mountain Lion kept that information nor do I remember how I set it up (2012).

    This blows. Someone visit me to keep me from throwing my mackbook into the middle of the road.

  35. Christine says:

    Worth repeating: all they should do is add a logon preferences option the same way one sets desktop preferences, per user, with default wallpapers and avatars, or the ability to select your own from whatever file you choose.

    ….feedback on the Apple support feedback website, complaining that the Mavericks OS X plain gray login wallpaper is ugly, and that Apple should provide an EASY way to modify this ugly login screen in System Preferences. Please readers, let Apple know how ugly this login wallpaper is and suggest Apple provide a simpler fix…” NOW!!!!!!

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/

  36. Amanda says:

    it worked once but the image was too small and when i chose a different image i did the exact same steps and everything…renamed. replaced. click. click.

    now it’s just gray and boring again. whyyyyyy. fml. i guess im stuck with it like this.

  37. Kev says:

    I replaced the images but nothing changed. Could anyone lend a hand?

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