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How to remove the ‘Activate Windows’ Watermark?

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  • 5 min read

If you’ve ever pirated Windows, you must have seen the notorious Activate Windows watermark. The watermark stays on the screen regardless of whatever it is that you’re doing on your machine and can be rather annoying to watch. 

In this article, we’re going over this watermark, it’s meaning, and how can you remove it from your machine.

Also read: How to view and change Microsoft Store install location in Windows 10?

What does the watermark mean?

In a nutshell, the watermark shows up on any installation of Windows which hasn’t been activated yet. If you’ve pirated your copy of Windows, you’re going to see this watermark until you either activate your copy or get rid of it using any of the methods mentioned below. 

While this isn’t a fool-proof method of protecting Windows against piracy, it does point out that a particular installation is either pirated or unactivated.

How to remove the ‘Activate Windows’ Watermark?

Here are five ways using which you can get rid of this annoyance.

Using batch code

We’re going to make a batch file that’ll get rid of the watermark. Make sure you’re following these steps using an administrator account. 

Step 1: Open up the notepad and type the following code.

@echo off
taskkill /F /IM explorer.exe

Step 2: Save the file as removeWatermark.bat and make sure to select All Files (*.*) in the Save as type dropdown. 

Step 3: Right-click the file and click on Run as administrator. Let the file run and restart your machine. 

Also read: How to fix Windows update error 8007000E?

Edit your registry

The Windows registry is a handy tool to customise and control your Windows installation. Editing a few keys in the registry can get rid of this watermark as well. 

Step 1; Press Windows key + R to open the Run prompt. Type regedit and hit enter. 

Step 2: Navigate to the following directory.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.

Step 3: Double click on the PaintDesktopVersion key to make modifications. 

Step 4: Change the Value from 1 to 0. 

Restart your machine and the watermark should be gone. 

Ease of Access settings

Ease of Access settings in Windows control whether or not any background images are shown on the screen. Disabling this setting can also remove the watermark.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for Control panel.

Step 2; Open the Ease of Access Centre. You can search for it in the top-right.

Step 3: Under Explore all settings, click on Make the computer easier to use.

Step 4: Scroll down and uncheck the Remove background images (where available) option. 

Click Apply when you’re done and the watermark will disappear. 

Also read: How to fix error 0x80070718 in Windows?

Disable Windows test mode

If your machine has test mode enabled, it can cause the watermark to appear even if your Windows is activated. 

Step 1; Press Windows key + X to open the Quick Access menu and click on Command Prompt (Admin).

Step 2; Type the following command and press enter.

bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF

Restart your computer and the watermark will be gone.

Also read: How to map and access Webdav drive in Windows 10?

Activate Windows (legally)

Ofcourse, the best way of getting rid of the watermark is to purchase a copy of Windows and activate your OS. You can do this using two ways:

  • Using a product key.
  • Using a digital license.

Activating using a product key

Step 1: Press Windows key + I to open Windows settings and click on Update & Security. 

Step 2: Click on Change product key under the Activation tab.

Step 3: Enter your product key and click Next. Wait for Windows to activate and enjoy the complete Windows experience. 

Activating using a digital license

Step 1: Press Windows key + I to open Windows settings and click on Update & Security. 

Step 2: Under the Activation tab, click on the Go to Store option.

This will open up the Microsoft store page for Windows 10. You’ll have two options here.

  • Install: This will download and install an activated copy on Windows 10 on your machine.
  • Buy: This will let you purchase Windows 10 and activate it right away. 

Also read: How to install and use Zsh in Windows 10?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: