How to Customize the OS X Yosemite Login Screen

Mac laptop with headphones and eyeglasses on a desk, with superimposed OS X icons

You should be very familiar with the OS X login screen. If you’re smart you have automatic login turned off and a password set to come on when your screen saver kicks in. Keeping your Mac safe behind a password is important not only so your coworkers don’t snoop on your Mac, but to make sure your sensitive data stays private in case your Mac is stolen.

RELATED: 5 Simple Ways to Better Secure Your Mac

In short, you should see your Mac’s login screen pretty often. While you make the rest of your Mac look exactly how you like, you’re stuck with the same bland login screen. While in OS X Yosemite it’s better than in previous versions, it’s still just a blurry, semi-transparent view of your desktop.

OS X Yosemite login screen with basic purple background

It’s actually pretty easy to change this to be whatever you want. Check out the steps below to customize the OS X Yosemite login screen.

Step 1: Prepare the Image

First you need to prepare the image you want to use as your background on the login screen. The image needs to be in PNG format. If yours is already, then you’re good to move on to step #2. If it’s not, follow along.

First, double-click the image to open it in Preview. Click the File menu and select Export. In the box that appears, choose PNG from the Format box at the bottom of the window. Then in the Export As field at the top, enter this as the filename:

com.apple.desktop.admin.png

Export window in OS X Yosemite

With PNG selected and the file named exactly as shown above, click Save. Make sure to save the image to your desktop so it’s easy to find for the next step.

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Step 2: Move the Image

Now that your image is saved in the proper format and named correctly, it’s time to place the background image in the folder that OS X looks in for backgrounds.

Open up a new Finder window and click on the Go menu in the OS X menu bar. In the Go menu, choose Go to Folder and enter the following:

/Library/Caches/

In this folder you should see a file already named com.apple.desktop.admin.png. This is your current background image for the login screen. Change the name of this file to be something like login-bg-BACKUP.PNG so you can always revert to it later.

Drag and drop your new background image into this folder. Once it’s in place, you can close the Caches folder.

Step 3: Test the New Login Screen

You will need to log out of the current user to see the change. When you log back in, your new wallpaper will be in place. Now every time your login screen appears, your new image will show up. If you ever want to revert back to the original, just delete your image and rename the original to com.apple.desktop.admin.png and you’re all set.

Bonus: Great Background Images

If you’re looking for clean and professional-looking images to try out as your new background, check out the sites below and get some high-quality free images that are safe for the office as well as home.

  • Death to the Stock Photo – These folks take some pretty amazing photos. You should be able to find something great here, and they’re all safe for work.
  • Gratisography – Run by a design firm, this site offers some weird and quirky images that are a little wild but all still work-safe.
  • New Old Stock – Looking for some classic imagery to liven up your Mac? Check this site out for some images from days past.

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