“I’m using remote desktop to remote in to my 2003 server, but if I try to change the background the buttons are not selectable. I’ve checked the settings on the remote desktop control login panel and everything seems fine.”

Unfortunately this particular task with Windows 2003 Server it’s not quite as straight forward as right-clicking an image and selecting ‘Set as desktop background’ To do this whilst remote desktoping into your server there are a number of other conditions that need to be made.

    • There are changes that need to be made in Group Policy and that means you need to have Active Directory installed and in order to have AD you need to make your server a domain controller.To make your system a domain controller you need to open a command prompt and type ‘dcpromo’ once your system is a domain controller you can then move on.
    • Go to Start > Run and type ‘gpedit.msc‘ This will bring up the Group Policy snap-in. From there drill down to. Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Terminal Services (and leave Terminal Services selected) from there you should see a number of settings. Among them is ‘Enforce Removal of Desktop Wallpaper‘ you need to select this and set it to ‘disabled


group policy

  • Now you need to refresh Group Policy. To do this, again bring up a command prompt and type ‘gpupdate‘. You will need to log off your remote session and log back in. Now when you right-click on the desktop and select properties and go to the Desktop tab you will find you are able to change your desktop background as normal.




While you’re still here, if you’re like me you’ll also want smooth fonts, however, yet again when you right click your desktop background, select properties then select the Appearance tab and click on ‘Effects’ you will also see that the option to select ‘Clear Type’ is also greyed out. Microsoft have this to say about it…

“The option to enable the Font smoothing feature is not available in the version of RDC that was released with Windows Server 2003. By default, Windows Server 2003 disables the Font smoothing feature in all remote connections.” Microsoft fortunately provide a Hot Fix which you can get here:  KB 946633. However before you go there I need to point out that the irony here is that you can’t select the tick box for your operating system whilst in a remote desktop session. Doh!

Anyway the long and short of it is Microsoft email you a link, the one they sent to me – which I will share with you here is for Windows Server 2003 (32 bit) in English. If you need another version you’ll have to go through the link I provided above.


You will need to restart your system.

After you’ve re-booted you will find that the ‘Clear Type’ box is STILL unselectable, but, if you look at the fonts on your screen you will see that they are already smoothed.


Removing the Recycle Bin.

Why? I just think it’s an ugly looking icon, no other reason than that. To delete the Recycle Bin in Windows Server 2003 just open Regedit and locate the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace and delete the key {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}. I exported this key just in case I want to add back the Recycle Bin at a later date.

You do not need to restart your system, just wait a few seconds and it will vanish on it’s own or right-click your desktop and click ‘Refresh’.