Displaying Custom Messages During Startup Before The Desktop Shows Up

During the years of IT services, I had been asked number of times by the customers to set up some type of legal notices or warning message to be popped up during the computer startup process but before the desktop shows up. The reasons why they need this type of information are vary. Most of the time it’s all because of the policy they had in place that requires a warning message needed to be shown every time when users log into their computer. Windows actually has this type of setting built in so you don’t need a 3rd party tool to do that. Thanks to the friend at TheWindowsClub for reminding me such a thing like this still exist in the new Windows 8.

You can set up to display custom messages during the startup through Group Policy or Registry. The former is obviously better, especially to an AD powered network, since the settings can be carried out to all desktop in the same network through AD group policy.

To change it through local group policy

Firstly, open Local Group Policy Editor. You can do it by pressing Win key, typing in Group Policy, and clicking Local Group Policy Editor that pops up in the search window.

Then, navigate to

Computer Configuration \ Windows Settings \ Security Settings \ Local Policy \ Security Options

And change the following two settings to enter in your own custom messages that you want to display during the startup.

  • Interactive logon: Message text for users attempting to log on
  • Interactive logon: Message title for users attempting to log on

Group Policy - interactive log on

The change kicks in right after you log off the current session. Next time when you try to log in the same computer, the message similar to the below pops up before the login screen shows up.

Display custom messages during startup

To change it through Registry key

Group Policy is great when configuring multiple computers with the same settings is needed. For individual computers, changing it through Registry keys might be quicker.

Firstly, open Registry Editor by pressing Win+R, typing in regedit, and hitting Enter.

Then, navigate to the following location:

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

And modify the following two keys to put in your custom messages.

  • legalnoticecaption
  • legalnoticetext

Display custom messages during startup - registry

Once you changed the key and logged off your computer, the message will be popping up next time when you try to log in.

And that’s all you need.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 08/04/2014

Posted in: News