Skinning software, such as Style XP and StarSkin, let you easily change the default Windows logon screen to a logon screen of your choice. You can also select new logon screens using Stardock's Theme Manager. Stardock also provides a free, although unsupported, utility for creating logon screens called LogonStudio (we discuss creating logon screens later in this chapter).
Let's take a look at how each of the skinning software packages provides the ability to change the default logon skin. We can then discuss how you can download and add logon screens to each of these skinning software packages.
For more about the skinning software discussed in this chapter, refer to Chapter 6, "A Closer Look at Skinning Software."
Customizing the Logon Screen with Style XP
Style XP provides the ability to change the default logon screen and add logon screens you have downloaded from the Web. All Style XP logon screens come as individual logonui.exe files, meaning they have the same filename and format as the default logonui.exe used by Windows.
Style XP skins the logon screen by providing an alternative logonui.exe file. Open Style XP by selecting Start, All Programs, TGTSoft, Style XP. In the Style XP choice list, select Logons (see Figure 13.6).
Figure 13.6. Style XP provides quick access to alternative logon screens.
To select a logon screen, click one of the logon schemes listed in the Style XP window. To apply the new logon scheme, click Apply Logon. The new logon screen is now available when you log on to (and log off) Windows (see Figure 13.7).
Figure 13.7. A logon screen applied to Windows using Style XP.
Figure 13.7 shows a logon scheme that was downloaded from the ThemeXP website (www.themexp.org); this is the default download site for Style XP. We explain how to download and install logon schemes for Style XP later in the chapter.
Style XP logon files are in the format logonui.exe. Leave any of these logon files that you download in their original zipped archive files. Style XP can extract them from the compressed archive when you are ready to use them. You do not want to take the chance of inadvertently overwriting the default logonui.exe file that resides in the C:\WINDOWS\System32 folder.
Customizing the Logon Screen with StarSkin
StarSkin also changes the logon screen by applying a modified version of the logonui.exe file. Each logon skin is a separate executable file, as is the case with Style XP.
To open StarSkin, select Start, All Programs, Rocket Division Software, StarSkin, StarSkin (there is a StarSkin folder that holds the StarSkin executable file). In the StarSkin window, click the Logon Screens tab (see Figure 13.8).
Figure 13.8. Logon screens are applied from the StarSkin Logon Screens tab.
StarSkin doesn't provide a list of available logon files as Style XP does, but it does allow you to browse for them. Click the Browse button and then use the Open dialog box to find a logon file. If you are browsing for logon files that you downloaded, look in the folder you used as the destination for the logon files' extraction (they come as zipped files).
When you have located a logon file (StarSkin browses only for the .exe logon file type), select the file. Then click Open. You are returned to the StarSkin window and a preview of the logon skin appears on the Logon Screens tab (see Figure 13.9).
Figure 13.9. A preview of the new logon screen is provided.
To apply the logon screen to Windows, click either the Apply or Close button. Either choice applies the new logon skin. If, at any time, you want to return to the default Windows logon screen, return to the Logon Screens tab and click the Restore Defaults button.
Customizing the Logon Screen with Stardock Theme Manager
Stardock Theme Manager also provides the capability to change the default logon screen. Theme Manager uses logon screens that are in the file format .logonxp. So, Stardock's approach to skinning the logon screen is the same as the strategy it uses for skinning Windows with its visual styles and other skin elements. It provides its own skinning engine and file formats for all the skin elements. This makes modifying the logon screen with Theme Manager a fairly safe proposition (when compared to Style XP and StarSkin, which both use modified logonui.exe files).
To start Theme Manager, select Start, All Programs, Object Desktop, Theme Manager. To change the current logon screen, click the Logons button in the Theme Manager Applications list (see Figure 13.10).
Figure 13.10. Theme Manager allows you to change the logon screen.
Theme Manager provides only three sample logon screens, but you can apply these to Windows. Additional logon screens can be downloaded, or you can create them using LogonStudio. We discuss LogonStudio in the section "Creating Logon Screens," later in this chapter.
To change the current logon screen, select a logon screen from the list provided and then click Apply. Figure 13.11 shows one of the sample logon screens provided by Theme Manager as it appears during the Windows logon process.
Figure 13.11. The new logon screen appears the next time you log on.
The next time you log on to Windows, the new logon screen is used. As you log off or shut down the system, the selected logon screen appears then as well.