Windows Vista Black Screen After Login - Resolved

Posted in Windows -

I have been having issues with my Windows Vista desktop giving me a black screen after logging in and not being able to do anything at all other than switching the computer off and on again. Yesterday I installed some security updates and the same thing happened again but I finally managed to work out the solution and now can safely reboot and log back into my profile each time.

I was able to log out and log back in again OK to my nuked profiles, but each time I rebooted and logged back in again I was greeted with the black screen and just a mouse, no other icons or anything. No keyboard combination was able to do anything either. I could log into another account using remote desktop but for all intents and purposes the account appeared to be completely unusable.

The solution turned out to be to modify the user account control (UAC) to stop blacking out the screen. As soon as I changed this setting so it was disabled, I was able to log in successfully to the "nuked" login even after a reboot. The rest of this post covers how to do this, but I must warn you it means the security settings are changed on your computer as a result and this may have negative consequences. You have been warned ... :)

This worked for me on Windows Vista Business, which is what I have installed. It may or may not work on other editions of Windows Vista. This may also not necessarily fix the black screen after login issue for you.

Open up the Microsoft Management Console by pressing the windows key + R to bring up the run dialog, enter "mmc" into the box as shown in the screenshot below:

run mmc

You'll be prompted by UAC to continue. Click "Continue". From the management console main menu, select "File" then "Add/Remove Snap-in". Locate the "Group Policy Object" and click the "Add" button, as shown in the screenshot below.

add remove snapins

Another dialog will appear. Just click the "Finish" button and then "OK".

The console root in the left side will now show a "Local Computer" option. Expand this, then "Computer Configuration" then "Windows Settings" then "Security Settings" then "Local Policies" then click on "Security Options". This expanded tree is shown in the screenshot below.

local computer policy security options

Once you have clicked the "Security Options" icon, the right pane will show a whole bunch of options. Scroll to the bottom until you find the one named "User Account Control: Switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation". Double-click it and you will see a new window like the one below.

switch to the secure desktop when prompting for elevation

Change it to "Disabled" and then click "OK". You can now exit the management console and you will no longer get that black screen when UAC prompts you to do something. In my case it means that when I log into my user account I get a regular desktop instead of the black screen of death! It's kind of odd that this is what was causing the issue but I'm glad it has fixed it.