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The Case of the Disappearing Desktop Wallpaper

The Case of the Disappearing Desktop Wallpaper
Not so long ago, engineer Dan Wynne was flummoxed by a mysterious, disappearing Group Policy Wallpaper. He tracked down the fix and he shares it here.

The Scenario

This particular client had a Company Wallpaper for all their machines – it was applied to all machines and users via Group Policy. However, three machines at this business had issues with the Group Policy Wallpaper where it would apply for a few minutes, but then revert back to the default Windows Wallpaper.

Naturally this led to all the usual GPO checks. As per best practice the Wallpaper Policy is a two stage policy. Policy 1 copies the Wallpaper file to a local share on each device, this lowers the load on the network, and Policy 2 applies the Wallpaper from the local share. I found that checking the local share showed the Wallpaper file in place and according to the GPO results the Desktop Wallpaper is being applied – so why is it changing?!



With group policy – as you know – they tend to just work or not work, it is pretty rare to find a policy that works on 90% of the network when all the hardware is the same. After plenty of research and testing, I found that in this case the problem was with the PC in question, despite checks on the server outlining that all was working.

The Fix

In the fix I assume you can see hidden files and folders as well as extensions for known file types (ensure these are in place before continuing). Windows has a Transcoded Wallpaper file, which in our case had become corrupt.

What you need to do is delete or rename the TranscodedWallpaper.jpg file:

1. Within Windows explorer navigate to the following address - %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\
2. Here, rename TranscodedWallpaper.jpg to TranscodedWallpaper.old.
3. Reboot the machine.

Once rebooted, Windows will recreate the corrupt file, meaning your GPO will now apply and stay applied on those machines.

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