After installing Windows 10, it will work perfectly fine even without activating it by entering the product key or by signing in with a digital license linked Microsoft account. However, unless you activate Windows 10, Microsoft will block all the personalization options. Which means that you cannot change the wallpaper on Windows 10 without activating it first. If you try to change the wallpaper or other personalization options from the Settings app, you will see a simple "You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC" message. Simply put, you are stuck with the default Windows 10 Hero wallpaper.
Sure, the default wallpaper looks good. However, seeing that same wallpaper each and every day can a bit jarring. So, here are a few methods which can help you change the wallpaper in a non-activate Windows 10 system.
Change Wallpaper in Windows 10 Without Activation
There are three different ways you can change the wallpaper in a non-activated Windows 10 machine. All of them are pretty easy to follow. The first two methods require no software installation whatsoever, you can use the built-in apps to change the wallpaper. The third method not only lets you change the wallpaper but also lets you set a new wallpaper every day automatically.
2. The below-shown methods to change the wallpaper in Windows 10 without activation will work on Windows 7 and Windows 8 too.
Method #1 - Use File Explorer to Change Desktop Wallpaper in Non-Activated Windows 10
The file explorer method is one of the easiest ways to change the wallpaper in Windows 10.
- Open the File Explorer.
- Go to the folder where you've saved the wallpaper.
- Right-click on the wallpaper image.
- Select the option "Set as desktop background".
That is it. As soon as you select the option, Windows 10 will set the image as your wallpaper instantly.
Method #2 - Use Internet Explorer to Change Wallpaper in Windows 10 Without Activation
Sure, Internet Explorer is mostly useless this day and age and you can uninstall Internet Explorer with just a few clicks. If you still have Internet Explorer laying around, you can use the good old Internet Explorer to change the wallpaper on Windows 10 without activation.
- Open the start menu.
- Search for "Internet Explorer" and open it.
- Drag and drop the wallpaper in the Internet Explorer.
- The above action will open the wallpaper in the Internet Explorer.
- Right-click on the image and select "Set as background" option.
- You will see a confirmation window. Click "Yes".
As soon as you select the option, Internet Explorer will change the Windows 10 wallpaper instantly.
Method #3 - Use Wallpaper Changing Applications to Set New Wallpaper in Non-Activated Windows 10
You can also use third-party apps like Dynamic Theme, Artpip, etc., to change wallpapers in not-activated Windows 10 system. One of the benefits of using third-party applications is that you can configure them to automatically set a new wallpaper every day in Windows 10. This eliminates the need to manually download and set the wallpaper each and every time. Moreover, a new wallpaper every day makes the desktop feel fresh.
I've already written a detailed article on how to change wallpaper automatically every day on Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Follow the instructions in that post and you should be golden.
As you can see, even if you don't activate Windows 10 and even if the settings app doesn't allow, you can easily bypass those restrictions and change the wallpaper in a non-activated Windows 10 system.
If you like this article, do check out how to stop background apps in Windows 10 and how to add folders to the Send To menu in Windows 10.