3Enable windows desktop slideshow with a script

I’ve been updat­ing my unat­ten­ded win­dows deploy­ment setup recently, and one of the things I wanted to enable was the slideshow wall­pa­per with the loc­a­tion set to my wall­pa­pers loc­a­tion on my serv­er. This isn’t as straight-for­ward as it ought to be, but after bit of fid­dling around I figured out how to do it fairly simply.

2 parts are neede — a reg script and copy­ing a file (which I do via a self-extract­ing archive file).

The reg script is as follows

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Personalization\Desktop Slideshow]


Note — you will need to set up the slideshow with the cor­rect path on one of your PCs and then export the value for “SlideshowDirectoryPath1” from your registry for this to work

The second part is to copy a file called slideshow.ini (also after set­ting up your own slideshow) which lives in %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes

The con­tents of this file con­tain an encoded ref­er­ence to the loc­a­tion of your slideshow I believe.

Once you have copied the file and impor­ted the reg file you just need to restart explorer or wait for the inter­val peri­od to pass (mine is set to 10 minutes) and I have shuffle turned on — your val­ues may be dif­fer­ent if you set them dif­fer­ently and export the changed val­ues from the registry

I have put my slideshow.ini into a self-extract­ing exe that extracts to (and silently over-writes) %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes. I then run my 2 com­mands using the fol­low­ing Syn­chron­ousCom­mands in my ImageUnattend.xml

<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
  <Description>Set slideshow location</Description>
<SynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
  <Description>Enable slideshow</Description>
  <CommandLine>c:\extras\elevate -c reg import c:\extras\slideshow.reg</CommandLine>

For more inform­a­tion about my use of the com­mand “elev­ate” and hav­ing files in the c:\extras folder please read my pre­vi­ous art­icle about how I used a “Batch script to rename PC based on reserved DHCP name

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Seems Microsoft has changed some­thing, or they don’t do it the same for all con­fig­ur­a­tions. When I turn on slid­show for my ref­er­ence PC, there is no slideshow.ini file to copy in %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes. Instead, to files get cre­ated named transcoded_000 and transcoded_001.

It’s almost like Microsoft does­n’t want us to be able to eas­ily con­trol slideshow using scripts.

JSJon Scaife

Hi James
These instruc­tions were for Win­dows 10 — they still seem to work for that. Are you using win­dows 11? If so no doubt Microsoft will have changed things for no good reason
Also note — I had to cre­ate a slideshow for these files and set­tings to appear. I then copied the file to oth­er machines to make this work. So if you haven’t first set up a slide show then I guess the ini file won’t exist

JSJon Scaife

Hi James
I real­ise it has been a long while, but I just checked this on win­dows 11 (build 23H2) and there is def­in­itely still a slideshow.ini in that folder
It is a hid­den file by default so you would need to change explorer options to view hid­den files