OS X Lion: Change Login Screen’s Dirty Linen

| How-To

The login screen in Snow Leopard has a beautiful picture of an aurora. It’s colorful and awesomely technical. Lion changes that to a bland display called “linen.” If you want to change your linen, here’s how.

As of this writing, I haven’t found a utility that allows you to change the background of the Lion login screen, so you’ll have to do it manually. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Administrator privilege.
  • A .png  graphic the same screen size in pixels as your login display and at 72 dpi (or more properly ppi).

1. The first step is to determine your display’s resolution in pixels. To do that, go to System Preferences -> Displays and read off your currently selected resolution. For example, 1920 x 1200 or 1440 x 900.

2. Find a new background image you’d like to use. One source that I really like is MacDesktops. Download your favorite image that has the size from step #1.


The galaxy M81 from MacDesltops.com

3. Check to make sure the graphic has 72 pixels per inch (ppi) You can use a graphics tool like Thorsten Lemke’s Graphic Converter. You may need to scale the graphic back to the original size if the ppi needs to be changed. Also, convert to and save as .png if not already in that format. Graphic Converter can do all that — along with other popular apps. Here’s the info panel on the image I used on a 27-in iMac.

Info Panel

Info Panel from Graphic Converter  

4. The location for the default linen image is:


You can navigate there in the Finder manually by drilling down or you can use the Finder’s Go -> Go to Folder… and paste this path in.

5. Locate and change the name of this default file from:




Enter your admin password when requested.

6. Rename your new .png graphic “NSTexturedFullScreenBackgroundColor.png” and then drag it into the location above. Again, you’ll need an admin password. You’ll have something that should look like this in icon view.

 New linen


7. Log out, and you’ll now see your new graphic as the login background. If you see your image repeated and tiled, it’s probably because it’s either not the right size or wasn’t correctly changed to 72 ppi. My iMac’s login looks like this now.

iMac with M81

I’m hoping that, very soon, some developer will build an app that automates this process. That way, we can change our dirty linen in an instant.

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Lee Dronick

To me the Lion login screen background is fine. It is the look of Mail that I find appalling.

I might as well get this out of the way; I also like the new look of Address Book and iCal. I understand that others don’t

John Martellaro

Sir Harry: In the Mail app’s Preferences -> Viewing, you can change back to “Use classic layout.”

Lee Dronick

Sir Harry: In the Mail app?s Preferences -> Viewing, you can change back to ?Use classic layout.?

It isn’t the layout, it is the color scheme, or lack thereof. It is drab, not enough contrast, like it is unfinished.


Thanks for the tip. I hated that linen look.


I have been using this method to change the login screen for a while now, but there is one drawback. All picture files show muted colors because of some type of haze overlay that is applied when the login screen is displayed. I have had better luck by taking the original linen file and changing its color to a brighter one; a light green works nicely, and the haze is not noticeable. If anyone knows of a way to knock out the haze, I would be interested in hearing about it. I was not able to find a file in the Framework folder that might be responsible for this effect, so I am assuming that the login screen itself is a transparent layer that sits above the background picture.


Why would you want to do that. There is nothing wrong with the Andromeda galaxy.


I seem to remember that a few years ago there were some exploits that bypassed the login dialog by clicking in various places on the background. Or maybe it was the wake-from-screensaver one—it’s a while ao and I’m not certain.

However, Apple solved the problem (I was told) by creating a translucent overlay that would capture all clicks etc and pass on only the ones destined for the password box. I believe that this is what you’re seeing.


It turns out, there’s a utility pre-installed with lion that can convert images with the “save as” function. it’s called ColorSync Utility. I didn’t like the majority of the images from the link offered, but it turns out I had one image that already had everything, except the .png extension.  I’m wondering if BootXchanger will work with the boot screen like it did in Snow Leopard. it looks exactly the same. I’d love to change it again, that dull, grey background with an apple is depressing..  I changed it to a Linux penguin when I had Snow Leopard.  btw, Is it possible to make Snow Leopard into one disc?

Lee Dronick

It turns out, there?s a utility pre-installed with lion that can convert images with the ?save as? function. it?s called ColorSync Utility.

Save As is gone from Preview, but you can export a graphic in of several formats. However, ColorSync Utility can save as in a few more formats than Preview.

Sidebar - I had a problem two days ago with Preview. I opened a photo that contained images of a number of family members. I wanted to crop out a headshot to put in Address Book. Preview had autosaved the cropped photo. Fortunately I copy of the photo in another location.


“Deeper” does all of that and more… though you still need to resize images accordingly.
http://www.titanium.free.fr/download.php   <—-download here.


I don’t have an “Appkit.framework!”  I really want to change this, though.  I think appkit is a developer thing that I don’t have.  Any ideas as to where else this file might be located?


It worked great!  Thanks!  I used Pixelmator to resize my image.


I just discovered Loginox (beta but free) which states it is 10.7 compatible. It allows quick changes of the login backgrounds as well as logos (!). I found it on MacUpdate.com


i for one like the “linen” look, seems more like a micro-thatch pattern. I replaced the lego dots in the dashboard space with the linens.

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