The Case of Blurry Text Using BGInfo on Windows 10 / Server 2016

Standard

If you are deploying Windows 10 or Server 2016 (perhaps in an RDS role) across your organisation you may want to apply a appropriate wallpaper and some text using BGInfo.  You’ve probably been doing this for years with no issues but what you will notice in Windows 10 / Server 2016 is that the text applied to the wallpaper by BGInfo looks blurry:

blurry1

Now is it the fault of BGInfo?  Turns out it is not.  BGInfo creates a .bmp file in this location when the wallpaper is applied:

C:\users\username\appdata\local\temp\BGInfo.BMP

Let’s have a look at that file:

blurry2

No problem there, the text is smooth and the background quality remains high.

Windows stores the in-use wallpaper in this location:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\transcodedwallpaper.jpg

Open that up and you’ll see the image with poor quality as in the first image above.  So what’s going on?  Windows 10 (and possibly 8/8.1/2012/2012R2 I’ve not tested) always converts the bmp wallpaper to jpg format to display it.  The process of converting your high quality BGInfo bmp image to jpg is where the loss in quality is occurring.  We can overcome this by adding the following registry DWORD using whatever method you prefer (GPP, script, UEM etc.)

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\JPEGImportQuality

Value : 100

blurry3

By default Windows uses a value of 85, which means a JPG quality of 85%.  This is to make the transcoded jpg smaller and so use less resource to display it.  In modern workstations/servers the resource use isn’t an issue so upping to 100% won’t do much harm.  The setting will take effect at the next logon.

As you can see below once the quality has been upped to 100% we see an improvement in the quality of the text.

Top – 85%, Below – 100%

blury4

It still isn’t as good as the original BMP created by BGInfo.  JPG is not a good format for displaying text and even at 100% quality it still suffers but this is the best we can do until BGInfo can create the wallpaper in jpg or png format natively at a high quality.

If you are desperate to get the best possible quality one option would be to use BGInfo to create the BMP and set the wallpaper.  Then use your UEM tool to convert the bmp to png via a command line tool such as bmp2png, then use the UEM tool to set the wallpaper again using your new png file which can be rendered natively by Windows without the transcoding and loss of quality.  Overkill but it works.

 

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