Custom Logonscreen Background

By default Windows Server 2008 has a (boring) blue logonscreen background. This tutorial will help you to customize the Windows Server 2008 x86|x64 (Build 6001) loginscreen with Vista’s or your own background. Members of the forum found out that using the authui.dll file from Vista SP0 (Vista without any Service Packs) allows you to modify the logonscreen background and (as far as we tested) doesn’t have side-effects. You can do this either autmatically or manually. You can test if this also works for newer builds of Windows Server 2008, but at your own risk!

After overwriting the authui.dll file(s) you will get the default Vista logon background. To modify this, use the free Vista Visual Master, the commercial Stardock LogonStudio or any other Vista Logon Screen modification tool to edit the background.

Modded Windows 2008 Workstation logonscreen
Customized Windows Server 2008 logonscreen


I extracted the authui.dll files for the x86 and x64 architecture respectively from the x86 and x64 MSDN iso’s of Windows Vista (SP0) RTM. See names of iso images below.

Download: (1.91MB) from Rapidshare and run install.cmd. This installer works for both the x86 and x64 architecture.



1. Get the authui.dll file from the C:WindowsSystem32 directory of a clean Windows Vista SP0 pc or extract it from the MSDN iso with name en_windows_vista_x86_dvd_X12-34293.iso.

2. Go to your Windows Server 2008 pc and take ownership and get permissions for the C:WindowsSystem32authui.dll file. To do this follow the instructions in the “Take Ownership/Permissions” article.

3. Rename the authui.dll file and copy the authui.dll file you got from the Vista SP0 pc to the System32 directory.

1. Get the authui.dll file from the C:WindowsSystem32 and C:WindowsSysWOW64 directory of a clean Windows Vista SP0 x64 or extract it from the MSDN iso with name en_windows_vista_x64_dvd_X12-40712.iso.

2. Go to your Windows Server 2008 pc and take ownership and get permissions for the C:WindowsSystem32authui.dll and C:WindowsSysWOW64authui.dll file. To do this follow the instructions in the “Take Ownership/Permissions” article.

3. Rename the authui.dll files and copy the authui.dll files you got from the Vista SP0 x64 pc to respectively the System32 and SysWOW64 directory.


You may also like...

29 Responses

  1. kamikami333 says:

    Hello Everyone ! Download new Link!mYRyCKjD!g5eegQaBo6obg83UHLpa4kuI4KnV93BcreXqAMt-swQ

    Thank you !

  2. 11ryanc says:

    Good tutorial, however the link to download the files are gone.

  3. chris says:

    I ran into the same issue as others here where the logon screen ended up black and impossible to get past (until I reverted back to the original auth*.dll files).

    Very frustrating! Still can’t get the logon background changed on Windows 2008 x64! πŸ™

  4. Jose says:

    Finally fixed it! Thanks Digital, you were correct! The downloadable file from Rapidshare posted on this site has you run install.cmd which changes your authui.dll files both in the %directory%:windowssystem32 and %directory%:windowssyswow64 locations. The good news is the program automatically creates backup files of the original authui.dll files and renames them authui.dll.original So here is what I did to fix my windows 2008 Server R2 from always booting up to a black screen with a mouse cursor…

    1. Restart computer and keep pressing F5 ;The system will show you your operating system
    2. Press F8 for advanced boot options ;This brings you to a few options, choose repair computer
    3. Type in your administrator password and choose command prompt
    4. Now using basic DOS commands, rename the current authui.dll file to something else (I chose authui.old) and then rename the authui.dll.original back to authui.dll
    5. Do this for both files and wala, your done!
    6. Reboot system

    Wow, took me all day to figure this out. Mainly because I have a number of partitions on my system and apparently I saved and ran the program on my P: partition (Programs) and I kept replacing the file in the C: partition. I’m done with tweaking my system, It looks good and small tweaks like these are not worth the headaches and time it takes to fix errors that may result. Time to do a backup! Peace everyone 😎

    Arris: Good to hear you got your pc running again and thanks for your extended explanation to help other people to deal with this problem! πŸ™‚

  5. Jose says:

    I should have read these posts before trying this. Now im stuck with the same problem Wanted has. Hey Digital, how did u replace the original files. Im atleast able to get into a command prompt

  6. Digital says:

    Wanted, I have faced the same problem. After changing the dll file, I got a black logon screen with a cursor only.

    So, what I did, I connected the server remotely and changed the files again.
    In case you are not able to connect remotely, then try to open your server C drive by following below step
    Click Start –> RUN –> type your server address i.e$ and hit enter
    It will as you to enter ID and password. Use your server’s administrator ID and password.

    THis works for me:)and I got my server back:)

    Arris: Thanks for your explanation! πŸ™‚

  7. James says:

    hey everyone, this has worked great and without a problem πŸ™‚ but how do i apply the background to remote desktop logins ? because that is the main purpose of me doing this πŸ™‚ ?

  8. bgrorud says:

    (I know this is old, but may help others)

    Mr. Wanted – at any point it is possible for you to get stuck with a server that connot boot, you need better recovery options. You could pull the drive(s) and hook them up to another computer where you could manually copy the original file in. You could boot with a ‘PE’ cd and get access to the drive, they are also boot to usb keys that can give you access to an NTFS drive. You have plenty of options available to recover that server.

    Arris: Thanks for your reply, this could indeed still be useful for others πŸ™‚ Examples of PE (Preinstallation Environment) CD’s are Bart PE and Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

  9. Matheus says:

    I tried and it did not worked… it says that this version of authui.dll is not meant for this version of windows. Any idea of how to get working??? using windows server 2008 enterprise sp2 x86

  10. fredcadet says:

    I like the concept of this but following this to a T on a Windows Server 2008 Enterprise service pack 2 will leave you with windows saying that this version of authui.dll is not meant for this version of windows. Any attempt to login will just leave you with a black screen. To fix this I replaced it offline with a backup from another computer.

  11. Almaazon says:

    Many thanx from egypt.

  12. Wanted says:

    Hi Brian… I tried that and lots of other things. The biggest problem with this is that if it does not work, you have absolutely no way to get to your desktop. Even safemode does not work and as we all know, the super super smart people at Windows decided not to include a recovery option on the installation CD like the one in XP.. I am sad that it didn’t work for me but I am happy to see that is is working for others. I wish that the Windoze company had just included a way to customize this is the first place.

  13. Brian says:

    Wanted, have you tried hitting “CTRL+ALT+DEL” twice at that login screen? It might just bring up the classic login screen…

  14. Wanted says:

    I am sorry to report that this little “experiment has caused me to totally lose all access to my server. Yes… I backed up the authui.dll file… but no I did not expect what happened next after all the glowing reviews on this page. I followed every single step with surgical precision and I used the authui.dll file that was provided by the author of this document. I also used the software that was recommended above to apply the new logon screen. I changed no other settings with the software… when I logged out and logged back in… I got a black logon screen with nothing but a cursor. No field for me to enter my user name and/or password… I decided to wait to see if the logon screen would appear. I waited….and waited… you get the picture right… no logon screen… then I restarted about 25 times and waited for about 10 minutes each time over the next several days… Now I sit sad and frustrated… I fortunately have a backup of my server but sadly it is an old one… I write this as a warning for others who think this might be a great idea… It is no insult to the author but a warning not to try this unless you back up right before doing these kinds of experiments on your machine. πŸ™

  15. white says:


    Ist just tried this on some of my servers, so it works. But it appears just on the local console and not via remote.
    I also installed it on my Terminalserver and it appears just on the local console. Does somebody have an idea how I can change this?

    Thanks for your help

    Mr. White

  16. Thomas says:

    Is there a way to change the backgroup or a way to edit the authui.dll file for free?

    This way of changing the Authui.dll works on all version of Windows Server 2008 and R2 I have tried it on all of them in my company.


  17. hmtilford says:

    @ All..

    Open up a command prompt window in administrator mode, it will not work if you right click and run as administrator. Once in command prompt manually run the command as administrative command prompt mode.

  18. hmtilford says:

    Got it working many thanks!! Will this change for any reason during windows update down the road? Guess that may always be a possibility.

  19. sodaxp says:

    Great job! I was looking forward to seeing this resolved many months ago! I will need to test this out in a virtual machine.

    Thanks very much!

  20. bboy_sonik says:

    Cool stuff, glad to see you made our discoveries an official page Arris! *Thumbs up*

    Carlos: Yeah, you can’t use SP1 files – must be from Vista without SP1 πŸ˜‰

    Arris: All credits to you and the other forum-members! I only made a summarizing article of your findings. πŸ™‚

  21. Carlos says:

    Nevermind, I got it. I downloaded the authui.dll files you posted instead of using my Vista x64 SP1 versions. Now it works!

  22. Carlos says:

    I have tried this a couple of times, but when I get to the part where I use either Visual Master or LoginStudio, nothing happens when I hit apply to change the background. πŸ™

    It just remains with the blue background. I have gone over your instructions a few times over and it seems I have done everything right. Any thoughts?

  23. Brian L says:

    Why does your welcome screen have a large display picture and name?

    On my server 2008 enterprise, that icon and name is much smaller.

    Arris: I think it’s because of the 800×600 resolution and it’s the only user there is πŸ™‚

  24. Mike Givler says:

    Thanks very much. One note for Corel Paint Shop Photo X2 users on Vista x64 or WinSvr2008 x64: if you manually copy in the two authui.dll files, you will have first changed ownership of the original authui.dll files from TrustedInstaller to something else (e.g., Administrator) in order to do the copy replacement. The two (new, replacement) files copied in will be owned by Administrator. The program Corel Photo X2 (PSP12) will fail with errors in kernel32.dll and ntdll.dll unless, after copying the two replacement files in, you change their owner to SYSTEM, or to TrustedInstaller if it is available. Failure takes the form of a total white screen.

  25. Paulo Gabriel says:


    I’m using the webserver version and testes with the “Automatic” mode.
    The logon screen was changed to vista screen, but I can’t change it to another one.

    Any idea?

    Arris: I tested it in (Non-R2) Enterprise Edition virtual machines, but I expect all editions will use the same authui.dll. What error do you get when modifying the background using the applications mentioned in the article? If you don’t get any error try monitoring the actions of the application during patching using Sysinternals Process Monitor. More information about this program at the forum.

  26. Nick Pitello says:


  27. Nick Pitello says:

    Where did you get the mountains picture in the example picture above?

    Arris: Here you go! πŸ˜‰

  28. Is there a way to just change the background color (i.e. to full black) without replacing any of the files?
    I know that I can put there just black image, but that’s not what I want, I would prefer not to replace any system files.

    Arris: I don’t think this is a registry setting so at least you have to modify a system file. (imageres.dll or authui.dll?)

    Arris Edit: Just saw the following site that might help you: Virtual RJ: Black background at the login screen.

Leave a Reply

Select Language Β»