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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Hack Your XP Login Screen

If you're really into bland stuff, the default Windows XP login screen is right up your alley. But I want my computer to greet me with gusto, so I have some serious plans for my own login screen. As far as I'm concerned, that dull default XP password-prompter has got to go.

On tonight's episode of "The Screen Savers" I'll show you how to turn that yawn-inducing XP login screen into a devil-may-care thrill ride of customizable excitement! For free! Can I get a what-what from my peeps in the back of the club?

Back up your files first

To change your XP login screen, you need to make changes to a file called "logonui.exe," which you can find in the c:\windows\system32 folder. Before you do anything, make a copy of logonui.exe in your System32 folder and rename it "logonui.bak."

If you don't see logonui.exe in your System32 folder, perform the following magic trick.

1. Go to Tools > Folder Options.
2. Select the View tab.
3. Under the Advanced Settings header, make sure the button is selected next to "Show hidden files and folders." Also make sure the box is unchecked next to "Hide protected operating systems files."

Once you've located the file, open logonui.exe in your favorite resource editor. If you're still looking for a resource editor, I recommend Resource Hacker or ResBuilder.

Once you open logonui.exe in a resource editor, you'll see the breakdown of bitmaps and text info associated with the file. As you can see, there are a lot of individual images to edit.

Now you've got two options.

Option No. 1: the hard way

You can build your own login screen from the ground up by creating your own images to replace the default bitmaps. Once that's done, you can save the file as a new executable with a name such as "new_logonui.exe."

I went over this process in my Hack Your XP Boot Screen Windows Tweak, so visit that page for a step-by-step tutorial.

Option No. 2: the much, much easier way

If you don't want to go through all those steps, use a premade login-screen theme!

You can download them from a variety of online sources, but my favorite is ThemeXP. Click the Logins link in the left navbar for thousands of login-screen choices.

Once you download the Zip file and unzip it, select the executable (.exe) file. You replace the original logonui.exe file with this file. You can further edit this new file with your resource editor, if you want to.

Finalizing your new login screen

However you decide to edit logonui.exe, you'll need to save your changes by overwriting it with your new file. Just restart in safe mode with command prompt.

1. Reboot your machine and press F8 before your boot screen kicks in. This will bring up a menu screen with a choice called "Safe mode with command prompt." Select it and press Enter.

2. Log in as administrator.

3. At the command prompt, type "cd c:\windows\system32" (without the quotes) and press Enter.

4. At the command prompt, type "copy new_logonui.exe logonui.exe" (no quotes) and press Enter. Make sure you use the actual name of the new logonui.exe file.

5. At the command prompt, type "yes" (no quotes). Press Enter to overwrite the original file.

6. At the command prompt, type "shutdown -r" (no quotes). Pressing Enter will then restart your computer.

Now when you boot up, you should see your new settings! Take that, boring old login screen!

Ah, the joy of absolute power.


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i'm glad to see you're still using res hack and doing these "spiff your windows box" articles. :)

you should go with linux and do a "spiff your linux box" article on different window managers and desktop environment apps. that would be swell. :)


Oringinal Article:



It took a little round about to find you guys, but I knew you would be somewhere. You're too talented and good to just "go away".

Thanks for all the help over the years!!!!!


Hi Sarah,
I love watching you on "The Screen Savers". I have a question about when I download a logon theme from "xpthemes.com". The file is not a zip like you had mentioned, but it's some other type of file I'm not familiar with. Any thoughts? Also, on a side note. I'm always sick of making sure the num. lock is on, so I went into my computers bios setup and changed the num. lock to be always on, but this still doesn't seem to work. Any suggestions?


Hi Sarah,
It's me again. I goofed. I realized just after my last post, that I had gone to a different website that you had mentioned. Please accept my apologies.


Hey Sarah,
In your login screen instructions you say that one should restart in command prompt safe mode. Then copy the new loginui over the old one. I tried this, but the sysreg just replaced the old one again. I ended up going to regedit and changing the uihost value to the new .exe name that I placed in the win32 folder. This did the trick. Not only did it work properly, it was easier than booting to command prompt. You might want to check this out.


Good tip... a bit confusing but thats the fun of it


Sarah, first, thank you for keeping all the great hints & tips that you did on SS alive on your own site. i just updated firefox. and of course the google bar was the first extention i added. but after that was session saver, so i can exit fire fox and not lose my tabs. flowing tabs was next. all of that combined with being able to bookmark a tab set is why i love fire fox. and i didnt even know there was a new version out till i saw you on ty. so thanks again


Garrett Murray

If you want a good site that gives you cool XP tweeks goto www.wincustomize.com

free tools and free account with wincustomize I give it a 10


You are wonderful!!!!!!!!!!
You are big girl
so...[ U R HACKER ]


Hey Sarah! LOVE The Screen Savers.

Just a heads up...You can actually change the theme w/o going to the command prompt, just navigate to the system32 folder, make a backup of the logonui file, and copy in the new logonui file.

Thanks for keeping all this info on your website!


please help me to change my start logo winXP
thank you


good tips.. and very clear instructions.. love it very much.. but did u notice that the link to access the paint shop pro color palettes is not working? other than that everything is purrrfect... good job on the show too..


HI I just wonted to star whith going into the regedit and stuff on my old computer it is a win 95 does any body know of some sites i could go to that have some regedits for window 95

David carlson

Sarah..I need your expertise once more, Oh goddess of the Registry. Looking desperately for all your old Reg Hacks. Especially, in this instance, Disabling that annoying 'error reporting' that adds insult to injury after an application crashes in windows. I have searched and searched the vault to no avail. Do you have an itemized collection of your many, many wise and wonderful registry optimizations? or a link to the 'disable error reporting' Instructions?

On my knees pleading to your wisdom.


You are an awsome hacker. Keep fightin the good fight againist boring log-in screens, and boring Start buttons. I want to know if there is a way to hack my "Windows ME" Start button.

Founder of Viper Web Design

Jon Chellis

Truly great stuff right here...

Would you happen to know how to change the bootscreen in Windows 2000 Pro? My friend tried doing it himself... it got half way through loading Windows and the system locked up... I have no idea how he did it, but do you? Only... having it work and not lock up...

because it'd be much more useful if it didn't lock up...

much more useful, indeed...

~Jon "mstrswrd06" Chellis


Got a question for ya, I see you can hack the XP login screen but what if there was a password on it, could you still get in? Is there a file that you can take out the password in DOS? And what if you delete the loginui.exe file, would that screw up the puter? I would really like to know for home edition also if you got the time. Thanx)


hi well i download the resbuilder and i did change my login that did work but when i try to change the boot it did not work. i can see the new boot screen but after that i get an error can u please help me thank.
ps. i really like those videos screensavers keep those videos comming in


What can I do to change this over a network?
I have created my own .scr and can doit on ly own machine but do you know of a way of putting it into a .bat or something?


hi sarah if you or anybody that you know got's more hack for xp, linux or win98 let me know. im looking for a hack to recover my password in xp home and pro im using both and since i used linux alot i forgot my password for win98 winxp home and pro. and i can recover it from wim98 but i can't read it. cause its like a program or something like that.


hey steve .. check out this link.. it might help you..



hey sarah, u need 2 update ur web page bucaus Resource Hacker is not being produced any more is there anything else i can use?


hi sarah,
nice trick!ü...
i just want to ask if is it also possible to make a program that will run "logonui.exe" and change UIHost registry entry to "my_prog_that_will_run_logonui.exe"?


Hey sarah you need to update the link for the color palette downoad for the win XP boot screen hack.


Hi Sarah,
Thanks for learning me how to hack into my Login. I was looking for that for a while, thank you so much!
Anyway, I used to download Logons from http://www.themexp.org, but they just didn't really have the things I liked. I started looking around, then bumped onto your site.
Erh, since I'm still lazy and all... Isn't there a way to add a whole picture, instead of those bitmaps parts? It's really annoying... I don't know how to turn the blue (my original XP Logon) into a whole matching picture. Am I supposed to cut my picture? Isn't there an easier way? Please help me!



I get the feelin´ this ´Sarah´ died a long, long time ago, in an accident.
And if she didn´t die, she must have had a great bang on the head, and forgot about this site.


I think there is a simpler way to get the boot screen up Sarah. Have a look at this.
A simple way to get that file to come up as your boot screen is to simply edit the name of the file to whatever you want, copy it over to the c:\windows\system32 directory. You then go into the system registry (regedit from the run menu) navigate the folders HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Winlogon\current version and then for the key (the values on the right hand side) find the one called UIHost double click on it and change the name to the name that you called that file.
Now after you log in again you will have your new login screen.

p.s I think that if the new login screen is substianualy biger then the windows one (495 kb) this will effect the performance such as the mouse sticking.



Loved yo on TSS. Glad to see you have not changed at all... although the show has had some changes. I need to setup some computers so that when it is first powered up, there is a message that appears before the user logs in. Please help with the steps..

Happy New Year
2004- 2005


Hi Sarah,
I really enjoy reading you ways of customizing you computer and as of now my computer is 'all mine'in a sort of way. I just wanted to ask you since you use Res Hacker all the time if you can re-write or re-point Res-Hacker to get the internet through a explorer jpeg? I knwo it has nothing to do with your tweaks and stuff but i just wanted to know because i'm stuck. I am farly advanced in this 'hacking' buisiness but now i'm kinda lost. Please if you figure it out i will be pleased. Thanks!


Hello Sarah,
I am excited to read ur tricks in customizing windows.Congrats for having such an intelligent people with u.Please keep on giving us tips in future also.
Thanking U
Wish U A Happy New Year 2005
Yours Subash.K.N


how can i change my other components of xp


hey sarah, this is my first visit to you're site and even though i used to watch techtv before it merged with g4, i cant remember you showing a nice xp tweak. i came across it and realized all the uses. go to the RUN command and type "gpedit.msc" and just look at all the possibilities under "user configuration/administrative templates/start menu and taskbar". and also under "user configuration/administrative templates/desktop". and so much more. :P


actualy i just looked in the archive, and relized you have used it, sorry :P


I think you and Kevin Rose should have your own show.
I said that from the beginning. I will say it again.

So who do I write and tell them about it?.
I do not like that other guy an think he is a lame duck. You and Kevin are the show.
I think when they got rid of the other TSS guys they failed horrible.

I have to get rid of that aweful Logon Screen M$ gave us.Style XP rocks but it will not keep the Login we choose for it.
I remember seeing on TSS how to change it So Google and I went looking. Glad too see your here :)


hy sarah,
here is a very easy way to tweak ms os, just type gpedit.msc in start->run combo and u may find this a usefull tweak console for regullar windows administrative tasks (hide drives, clear users history and much more)
ps: for those that are unhappy with registry browsing;
'scuze my english

walusimbi richard

isnt there an easier way of cracking logon password?


I just started messing with mine, just a side note you dont have to restart to view it, just goto the switch users screen. I also found windows rewrites the new one unless you change the name and the registry info. I'm still having some problems with it though, they keep messing up and I have to start over, dont know whats going on.

Abid Ali

it is my personal email adress.


Add me at neopet...

How to hack windows XP using command prompt? I mean I enter the account as guest and then use the command prompt to steal password from an admin account without entering admin account but only as guest.Just using command. Can I hack like that? Can u teach me how? anyone?? help me..

Nice information Sarah... add more about hacking window XP

faizan nazir

plz tell me how to hack a website from command prompt

sied daud

Hi sarah

I need help, i tried customizing the login for windows xp and i guess exe was corrupt or something, so when my laptop loads i get the original compaq background and no box to insert the user name and password. I can't logon basicly.

help me please!!


Go to my site to learn all this leet stuff, like hacks for command prompt and all. I'm planning on adding some. If there aren't any there, just email or IM me on AIM.


hi sarah i forgot my system administrator password, therefore i could not install new prorams. Maybe you could help on this.


McEl Dillorin

Needs help badly. Win2kpro login hack. Password was forgotten or so he says. I need to recover or end up yanking the Hdrive replacing it with a new one and installing OS all over again from scratch. Most of the drivers are no longer supported for this PC, so this puts me in a bind. See my ordeal?

Place "Win2kPro Login Crack" in the title message so your responce doesn't get deverted to bult mail and deleted.



thats so nice and interesting sarah but i want you to help me out i have a machine and actually some one hacked it and now i can not logon its a linux machine do i use the same steps as the ones you gave for windows xp


Thanks Sarah for the XP logon Screen steps ...I have my own XP logon screen.

thanks alot..

Papua New Gunea!!


My logon looks really cool now. I hope the same info will work on Windows Longhorn too. Thank you and have a happy new year, Sarah!


I want learnt more and more in Regedit, can you show me about all Regedit can do?and I want Change Interface Window XP too, How Regedit can do with mine?


Hai all,

Recently i loaded "digitalpersona password manager" software into my win xp pro m/c,inorder to use finger prints as authentication tool ,instead of passwords.

but it is giving an option as "type ctrl-alt-del" to logon to machine using ur password or touch Finger print reader ,at logon screen. my aim is that by typing some other keys , i want to see login screen(that asks for password) incase finger print reader doesn't work.how to achieve this.....anyone can help...

my ultimate target is that: how to replace ctrl-alt-del key sequence with some other key sequence.

thanks in advance...

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  • Hi, I'm Sarah Lane, and I've been posting a mishmash of stories, images, videos, and links here since 2003. Read more about me >>

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