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How to Use a Custom Login Screen Wallpaper Image in OS X Yosemite

Posted by Jim Tanous on March 2, 2015
os x custom login screen wallpaper

Apple by default uses a transparent, blurred image of your desktop as the background for the login screen in OS X Yosemite. Although this differs from previous versions of OS X that used a gray background, you can still set a custom login screen image in Yosemite by replacing a single file. Here’s how to change your login screen wallpaper in OS X Yosemite.

Select Your Image

First, find the image you’d like to use as your custom login screen wallpaper. You can use any image that is in PNG format and, while your image can be of any resolution, it’s best to pick one with a resolution at least as high as your primary display, as OS X will scale up lower resolution images which often results in an ugly and blurry mess.

os x yosemite default login wallpaper

OS X Yosemite Blurs Your Desktop Wallpaper for the Login Screen Image


If your image is in a format other than PNG, you can quickly convert it using the Preview app. Just open your image in Preview, go to File > Export, and choose PNG from the Format drop-down menu at the bottom of the Export window.
Once you’ve identified your image, save it with the filename com.apple.desktop.admin.png. The image must have this exact file name in order for it to serve as a custom login wallpaper.

Set Your Custom OS X Login Wallpaper

Next, open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the Menu Bar. In the box, type /Library/Caches and click Go. This will take you to the Caches folder in the System Library. Depending on your exact OS X configuration, you may or may not already have a login screen wallpaper image in this folder with the com.apple.desktop.admin name mentioned above. If so, copy and paste this file to a safe location on your Mac so that you’ll have a backup of the original if you ever want to revert to the default login screen wallpaper.
os x go to folder caches
Now find your custom renamed wallpaper image and copy it into the Caches folder, authenticating with admin credentials and agreeing to replace the existing file if requested. Once the new login screen wallpaper image has been copied, close Finder, save your work in any other open OS X applications, and log out of the operating system ( > Log Out).

os x custom login screen wallpaper

After replacing the PNG file in the System Library folder, our custom OS X login screen wallpaper is displayed.


When OS X drops you at the login screen, you’ll notice that the new custom wallpaper image is already visible. You don’t need to reboot or make any other changes for the new login screen wallpaper to take effect. If you’re not happy with the new look, you can continue to experiment with other images by repeating the steps above, or revert to the original wallpaper image by copying the backup you made earlier back to the Caches folder.

Why Use Custom Login Screen Wallpapers?

First and foremost, there’s obviously the personalization factor. Even though Apple doesn’t offer as much in the way of user customization as Windows and Linux, Mac users still want to be able to make the look and feel of their Mac their own.

Related: Now that you know how to use custom login screen wallpaper, learn how to set a custom lock screen message.

On a more practical note, a custom wallpaper image can help you quickly distinguish between otherwise identical Macs. Businesses, schools, and even small companies like TekRevue use several of the same Mac model for different purposes. Absent marring the Mac’s exterior with stickers or labels, you can use a custom login screen wallpaper to clearly identify your test and production Macs, for example.
Finally, related to above, businesses and organizations can use custom login screen wallpaper to brand company Macs. In Yosemite, this allows the user to have their own personal wallpaper image on the desktop, but use the company’s logo on the login screen.

9 thoughts on “How to Use a Custom Login Screen Wallpaper Image in OS X Yosemite”

Bhavna Chauhan says:
thanks, it worked.
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Lÿo says:
That’s a slick wallpaper there (the one used in the example), mind sharing it to your readers?
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TekRevue says:
It’s one of the default wallpapers included with OS X 10.4 Tiger: https://www.tekrevue.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/osx-tiger-3.jpg
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ricq marconi says:
in OS X 10.11.5 (El Capitan, idk about other versions), every time you set a new desktop background, the login screen background is automatically generated and replaced. so if you set a new desktop background, but want the same login background, you’ll have to re-set it. I put the image I want into a new folder in /Library/Caches with the same name as the system-generated image so it’s easy to copy/paste and swap out.
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Ashley Glover says:
Sound advice!
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the master of disaster says:
my wallpaper is a picture of my girlfriend licking my dick. How can I change the lock screen so it isn’t obvious? The blurriness isn’t blurry enough and my mom found it
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KibblesAhoy says:
I came to confirm that if you did this and upgraded to El Capitan, it persists; in my case there’s a new blur effect that actually makes my custom image look even better.
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Marcvs Antonivs says:
It works only for the first login. Somehow it changes the file I placed on caches folder to the wallpaper I’m using…
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Andy Kennedy says:
This didn’t work for me. I followed it to the letter, checked the file at /Library/Caches/com.apple.desktop.admin.png which is the grey weave from Mountain Lion/Mavericks, but I still get the blurry Yosemite rock-face.
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Jack Crow says:
http://jacobsalmela.com/customize-os-x-yosemite-login-screen/#comment-1837810526 solved it for me, basically make sure the new picture has permission “Read only” for “everyone”, instead of “No Access”.
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Joe says:
Unfortunately it messes up the image by changing its brightness and contrast. I have a nice picture of the moon on a black background, but the image becomes grey and washed out. Is there any way of stopping this?
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Alex Honold says:
Thanks Jim
That was helpful – but it didn’t solve the whole problem. Here’s why… As far as I can see OS X Yosemite has at least three login screens-behaviours. The first one is the one you get when your machine has freshly booted. Here I get the background I’ve changed nice and clear in beautiful bright colors. Weirdly though OS X displays the user selection with the user picture instead of the two line login which I have selected in the system settings – but that’s another story. Anyway, the next screen behavior I notice is the one you get when you log out from the running system and log in again. This time I get again the correct wallpaper but it is somehow strangely blurred (strangely this time I get the configured two-liner to log-in). The third behavior I’ve experienced is when you suspend or hibernate the machine. In this case I don’t get the background wallpaper I’ve placed into the /Library/Caches path at all. Instead OS X simply displays the default blurred image it typically uses (i.e. standard out of the box behavior). So in the latter case the Wallpaper replacement doesn’t do the trick. And (just to finish) the login items are back to the user pic with the password on-liner.
I you or anyone has any hint(s) which could help me getting rid of the blur effect and have everywhere one proper background picture and maybe even one behavior of the login items that would be awesome.
Thanks
Alex
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SUZIE says:
I’m having the same problem! The screen I most want to change is the one that shows up after your computer has been hybernating! now it’s just a blurry zoomed in picture (i think of the one i set for lock screen, but could be my background because they’re similar). HALP!
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