Black background at the login screen

! Warning: Editing the registry is a tricky thing. If you change something important you might destroy your Windows. The author of this article is in no way responsible for any damage caused!

Our mailserver experienced a weird phenomenon today. Whenever we wanted to log in, the input boxes of the login screen were black and so was the title in the window header. After some searching and finding this useful Microsoft KB 906510, I was pointed to the registry and specifically to the location HKU\.Default\Control Panel\Colors. I applied the workaround from the Microsoft KB (which was exporting the registry keys from a healthy server and then importing them to the mailserver) and it worked again.

I got interested and was questioning myself what all the keys did in HKU\.Default\Control Panel\Colors. So for me and those who are interested a list of all the keys, their default values (for Windows Server 2003) and what specific part they affect (the ones I could quickly find).

Name Default Description
ActiveBorder 212 208 200 Bordercolor of the active window
ActiveTitle 10 36 106 Titlecolor of the active window
AppWorkSpace 128 128 128 ?
Background 102 111 116 Background color behind the login screen
ButtonAlternateFace 181 181 181 ?
ButtonDkShadow 64 64 64 ?
ButtonFace 212 208 200 ?
ButtonHilight 255 255 255 ?
ButtonLight 212 208 200 ?
ButtonShadow 128 128 128 ?
ButtonText 0 0 0 ?
GradientActiveTitle 166 202 240 ?
GradientInactiveTitle 192 192 192 ?
GrayText 128 128 128 Color of not selectable text
Hilight 10 36 106 Backgroundcolor of selected text
HilightText 255 255 255 Color of the selected text
HotTrackingColor 0 0 128 ?
InactiveBorder 212 208 200 ?
InactiveTitle 128 128 128 ?
InactiveTitleText 212 208 200 ?
InfoText 0 0 0 Tooltip text color
InfoWindow 255 255 225 Tooltip backgroundcolor
Menu 212 208 200 Backgroundcolor of the menu
MenuBar 0 0 0 Backgroundcolor of the menubar
MenuHilight 0 0 0 Backgroundcolor hoovering menu item
MenuText 0 0 0 All text entered in the input boxes
Scrollbar 212 208 200 Color of the scrollbar
TitleText 255 255 255 Text in title bar
Window 255 255 255 The background color of the input boxes.
WindowFrame 0 0 0 ?
WindowText 0 0 0 All the plain text on the screen (not button text)

All the keys in the HKU\.Default are used to create the default profile for new users. These settings are also used at the logon screen. If you want to edit your own settings you can do this at HKCU\. I can verify that these places in de registry exist on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista.

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2 responses to “Black background at the login screen

  1. Nice find ! very useful in my case, cheers

  2. Awesome. Thanks for the headache fix!

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