How to Customize the Login Screen Wallpaper of Mac in OS X Yosemite

Feb 24, 2015 - 25 Comments

Customize the login screen background wallpaper in OS X Yosemite

Customizing the login screen appearance on a Mac is a nice way to add some personal (or corporate) flair to the OS X login experience. How exactly to change the login screen wallpaper has differed continuously in the many versions of Mac OS throughout the years, but with OS X Yosemite, the process of setting a custom wallpaper is perhaps the easiest it has been in quite some time.


Setting a unique login wallpaper this way is easily done and easily undone too. You can change the background image to anything you’d like, so if you have a picture handy that you’d like to use that’s great, otherwise you can look in our wallpapers section for something that suits you.

Back up your Mac with Time Machine before beginning, though this is a minor change you will want to have a fresh backup anyway just in case you somehow mess something up.

Change the Login Screen Background Wallpaper to a Custom Image in OS X Yosemite

For the purpose of this walkthrough, we’re going to use one of the hidden wallpapers in OS X of a Cosmos moon / earth shot. That secret wallpaper selection in OS X offers many great options to use on any Mac, and the files are already in the proper format.

Whatever image you wish to set as the login background must be a PNG file, and it should be at least the size of your screen resolution if not larger.

  1. Open the image you want to set as the login wallpaper into Preview app of OS X
  2. Pull down the “File” menu and choose “Save As”, select PNG as the format, and name the file “com.apple.desktop.admin.png” – save it to somewhere like the Desktop for easy access
  3. Save a wallpaper as PNG with proper name to set as the login background picture

  4. Now go to the Finder of OS X, and hit Command+Shift+G, enter the following path in Go To Folder:
  5. /Library/Caches/

  6. Locate the file named “com.apple.desktop.admin.png”, select it, and hit Command+D to make a copy or drag it somewhere like your user folder and make a copy that way (this will serve as a backup of the default login screen background image – do not skip this)
  7. Make a backup of the OS X default login screen wallpaper and then copy your customize picture in

  8. Now copy the version of your custom wallpaper named “com.apple.desktop.admin.png” from the Desktop into the /Library/Caches/ folder
  9. Close the /Library/Caches/ folder and log out of the current user account to see the change

changed-login-screen-image-osx

Your newly customized background login screen image will be set and you’ll see it upon the new login screen again, you will see this image when you log a user out, boot into the new login screen, or lock the screen to a login authentication window. You should not need to reboot the Mac to see the difference.

For an added customization bonus, don’t forget you can add a message to the login screen of OS X too, this is a good place to put an ownership note or message, maybe even a phone number or email address to signify who owns the specific Mac.

You’ll probably want to keep a copy of “com.apple.desktop.admin.png” handy unless you’re really thrilled with your newly customized login screen, that’s your choice. To reverse the customization, you’d simply want to move the backed up copy back into the original location in /Library/Caches/, as you can see in the screen shot above the backup for this particular walkthrough is just kept in the same folder.

Set the Custom Login Wallpaper Background with Terminal

If you’re command line savvy, you can achieve the same results with the following, assuming you have a PNG file handy:

Move the original login wallpaper file to serve as a backup:
mv /Library/Caches/com.apple.desktop.admin.png ~/Desktop/backup/

Move the new image into place to set as the new login screen background picture:
mv ImageForLoginWallpaper.png /Library/Caches/com.apple.desktop.admin.png

Log out to see the change as usual.

For Mac users running a prior version of OS X, setting a custom login screen in OS X Mavericks is quite easy too.

This great tip was discovered on LifeHacker, cheers to the find.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

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

25 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Kingsford says:

    Can’t seem to get it to work.

  2. Toby says:

    Works great, except all the images I choose become slightly greyed out, not fully vibrant like the OSXDaily’s once on the login screen. I wish I knew why.

  3. Sumit says:

    Awesome ….i tried and its works …thanks .

  4. DJ Danni says:

    Awesome. Woorked for me 😊 ty 😊

  5. cashxx says:

    Same as Toby here…..Yosemite has a blur to the image in the background by default. I think there is a way to turn this off, but haven’t gotten that far yet. I also got info on the file and locked it and haven’t gotten an error yet. Not sure if it will keep it from changing or throw an error or not.

  6. mohammed says:

    thanks very much

  7. findo says:

    There is a slight blurry haze on the login background image that is set by default but you can maybe disable it with

    defaults read SystemUIServer /Library/Caches/com.apple.desktop.admin.png -Filtering 0

    • Deal says:

      I tried to use this command in the terminal and got the error:
      “The domain/default pair of (SystemUIServer, /Library/Caches/com.apple.desktop.admin.png) does not exist”. What I was doing wrong?

  8. Mike says:

    Several utility apps such as MacPilot and Onys (free!) have always been able to facilitate changing these login pictures, and they still do.

    Having multiple external drives with varying versions of Mac OS installed, individualized login pictures help visually confirm which drive I’ve booted from. (Especially helpful after an install, upgrade or crash where the startup drive unexpectedly changes back to the computer’s internal drive. Hulllooo!)

  9. Toby says:

    Readers take note: no real need to make a backup of the original file because to overwrite your new changes, all you need to do is change your desktop image in system preferences. This will destroy your custom login picture and turn it back into a blurred version of your new desktop image. These changes aren’t permanent, hence the name of the folder it is kept in: “Caches”

  10. Kurt says:

    Not working. In /Library/Caches are just 2 folders: com.apple.iconservice.store and com.apple.spotlight. I can’t open either one of them. What am I doing wrong?

  11. Dozzy Homer says:

    I can’t try this because I don’t have Yosemite installed, not sure If I should, hmm. Does this tip work on Mavericks and or Mountain Lion ?

  12. Heli Guy says:

    1. Works for initial login screen, but old blurred login screen wallpaper still comes up after computer goes to sleep.
    2. Would like to know how to remove gray haze effect from new custom login screen wallpaper.

  13. Chip says:

    Nice change to the main log in screen. Is there a way to change my lock screen to something other than Apple’s choice?

  14. Marcos says:

    It works…only for a few restarts, 1 or 2 nothing more. Then it goes back to the wallpaper you’re using at that moment.

  15. Alex says:

    Hi,

    I know it’s not the main topic here but I have been looking around in the internet on how to change the Dashboard Background in Yosemite and I can’t find anything. I don’t have the pirelli files when looking for them in the Ressources folder. Does someone has an idea on how it is done?

    • Ian Douglas says:

      I’m looking to know also. I actually did it before, because right now I have a custom image on my Dashboard (set as a separate Space). I don’t remember what I did, or even when, but it must be possible, because it’s happening on my system. I’m trying to find info, because I now want to change that image

  16. The Pixleated says:

    Can’t unblur the login screen image. Very bloody annoying.

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Recent Posts