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Desktop Background Won’t Load

Most users like to personalize the way Windows looks. One of the quickest and easiest ways to personalize Windows is to change the desktop background picture. However, what do you do if your selected desktop background won’t load?

Troubleshooting Desktop Background Problems

You select a picture, slideshow, or color for your Windows desktop background in the Settings window. Select Personalization > Background, then pull down the Background list and select the type of background image you want: Picture, Solid color, or Slideshow. Windows should now display the picture, color, or slideshow you selected.

If Windows does not display what you selected, or just displays a black background, something went wrong with this process and you may be asking yourself why your desktop background doesn’t load on start up. Here are some things to try to troubleshoot the issue.

Check Your Version of Windows

All versions of Windows 10 let you change the desktop background, but this is not always so with some older versions. In particular, Windows 7 Starter and Home Basic editions do not have the same robust personalization options, including the ability to set a desktop background. If you’re still using an older version of Windows, consider upgrading.

Try It Again

On rare occasions the options you configure simply don’t take. Perhaps you think you selected one thing but actually clicked on another. Repeat the previous steps and make sure you’re selecting all the right options for your desktop background.

Select Something Different

It’s possible that the picture you selected is corrupted, is in the wrong file format, or has been deleted. Repeat the steps but this time select a different picture.

If you opted to display a slideshow, the folder you selected might you might contain unusable pictures. Try selecting a different folder.

Try selecting a color instead if the picture isn’t working, and if one color doesn’t work, try another.

Check Advanced Power Settings

There is a somewhat hidden and little-used advanced power option that pauses your system’s desktop slideshow. This option may be triggered when your laptop is operating on battery power or if that setting was inadvertently changed. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Power Options.
  2. From the Power & sleep tab, scroll down and select Additional power settings.
  3. This displays the Power Options control panel. Click Change plan settings next to the Balanced.
  4. This displays the Edit Plan Settings control panel. Click Change advanced power settings.
  5. Scroll to and expand Desktop background settings > Slide show.
  6. Click the options for On battery and Plugged in to select Available. (Do not select Paused.)
  7. Click OK.

Check Ease of Access Settings

There is an Ease of Access settings that, when selected, removes all desktop background images. Make sure this option is not enabled by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings window and select Ease of Access.
  2. Select the Display tab.
  3. Scroll to the Simplify and personalize Windows section and switch “on” the Show desktop background image switch.

Disable Third-Party Utilities

It is possible that a third-party utility is affecting the display of your desktop background. Some utilities simply cause compatibility issues with the background display; others actually point Windows towards the wrong folder for background images.

To check for possibly conflicting third-party utilities, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. If the Task Manager is in compact mode, click More details to expand the window.
  3. Examine the Apps and Background processes sections and look for any third-party display or wallpaper management tools. If you find one, select that item and click End task.

Now try enabling a desktop background. If it works, you need to uninstall the offending utility.

Look for a Corrupted TranscodedWallpaper.jpg File

The currently selected background image is stored as a temporary file labeled TranscodedWallpaper.jpg. If this file is somehow corrupted, you may not be able to change the desktop background image. You fix this problem by deleting the offending file, which is then recreated (hopefully error-free) when you select a new background. Follow these steps:

  1. Type or paste the following text into the Windows search box on the taskbar, then press Enter: %USERPROFILE%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsThemes
  2. Click this item in the search results. This opens Windows Explorer to the folder that contains the file.

  1. Right-click the TranscodedWallpaper.jpg file then click Rename.
  2. Change the filename to old.
  3. Close Windows

Now try selecting a new desktop background.

Reinstall Your Display Driver

The worst-case scenario is that your Windows display driver has somehow become corrupted in a way that affects the display of your desktop background. Follow these steps to update your drivers:

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Device Manager.
  2. Double-click to expand the Display adapters section, then right-click the driver for your system.
  3. Click Uninstall device.
  4. When the device driver is uninstalled, you now need to reboot your computer. (Save any open work first, of course.)

When your computer restarts it will automatically install the now-missing display driver. Try changing your desktop background now.

Driver Support Can Keep Devices Up to Date

Reinstalling your display driver is just one example of how you can update system drivers to keep your computer operating smoothly. You can use Driver Support to keep all the drivers on your computer current and in prime operating condition.

Driver Support scours your system for all active device types supported. When you fully register the service, it automatically updates any drivers that are missing or out of date.