How-To: Changing the Windows Vista Startup Sound

Of the many controversies surrounding Windows Vista, probably the most infamous (and pathetic) issues brought to the table is the Windows Vista Startup sound – and how to get rid of it. If  you were anywhere but under a rock during the beta, it’s impossible to have missed the posts going back and forth by haters and supporters of Windows Vista’s new startup sound – which, like almost everything else in Windows Vista, doesn’t even always work.

This sound isn’t the one you get on startup (which is still there, just like in previous versions of Windows), but rather the one that plays right when Windows finishes loading – and you can’t do a thing about it. In our opinion, it’s a quite nice sound, but unfortunately you don’t get to hear it (most of the time) if you have a analog/digital sound card with analog being the default. At any rate, for those of you that don’t like it, chin up: it can be changed!

  1. Grab reshacker (or XN Resource Editor, if you prefer), they’re both invaluable utilities that you should always keep at your side when you want to hack just about any program or feature on Windows.
  2. Copy C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll to another location, and open it with reshacker.
  3. Open the WAVE subfolder, and select the appropriate localized resource as follows:
  4. If you’re using XN Resource Editor, you don’t need to worry about this step: skip on to number 5. Each language has a different code in Windows; in this example, we’re working on a United States English copy of Vista, which has language code 1033. Referring to the list of language codes, German would be 1031, and Spanish is 1034. Open the subfolder pertaining to your particular language code.
  5. You need to replace resource name (number?) 5051 with a Wave file of your own – resource 5051 is the default Windows Vista startup sound, and you’re going to replace it with your own custom (wave!) file.
  6. Save and exit.
  7. Backup the original \Windows\System32\imageres.dll file, replace the existing one with your newly-modified uber-cool version, and reboot to check it out.

66 thoughts on “How-To: Changing the Windows Vista Startup Sound

  1. OK well I have fig out what you have to do to fix this


     1st you need to right click on the file imageres.dll an click properties then click the  security tab up top

    2ed if your the admin for this pc you can click the admin

    3rd click the advanced tab

    4th then click the owners tab then the edit tab an then click the admin then click apply

    then click ok an then ok on the next one as well

    an then you should be able to go an change the file that is what did step by step to be able to change the file


    hope this helps

    Mike http://Www.WhipsAudio.Com


  2. I did this but when i preview the new sound its still the stock vista sound. and I cant copy&replace a dll folder in the windows system 32 folder. it says I dont have permission but Im the only user for this laptop.

  3. Well, duh!

    You say you failed to carry out a step, then you complain that the sound hasn’t changed!!!!

    Follow Whip’s guide, it worked for me.

  4. Okay, I’m confused now.  I changed the file, everything went fine, but the sound didnt change.  When I open ImageRes.dll from System32 in ResHacker and play the WAV, its the sound I want, but when my computer actually boots, its still the default.  Anybody know what thats all about?

  5. It won’t let me change the file with my new updated one. Keeps telling me i don’t have the access etc. I am the admin on my pc and the only user. I have tried changing to file to all access but it keeps saying cannot change as i don’t have the priviages!

    Any ideas? Ive even tried safe mode!

  6. I’m using XN Resource Editor, I’m able to back up imageres.dll, open it, now I’m in step 5, HOW do I “replace resource name (number?) 5051 with a Wave file of your own” my wave file is on the desktop. Please help!!!

  7. i have admin prev. to the file and all that but when i change the wave file i ge “cannot create file C:\windows\system32\imageres.dll.” anyone know a fix for this?

  8. hello, i tried using “Reshaker” and i get the following as another person has said “i have admin prev. to the file and all that but when i change the wave file i ge “cannot create file C:\windows\system32\imageres.dll.” anyone know a fix for this?” please help

  9. It worked for me played Jimmy Swaggart’s Jesus on the inside wave not all the way but it worked

  10. hello everyone, i came across similar problems such as “can not rename original file, saving canceled” and “cannot create file C:\windows\system32\imageres.dll”
    i was finally able to figure it out and i will try to describe how i did it.

    (these instructions are for reshack

    -step 1, you need to give reshack privileges.
    – right click reshack icon, go to properties then click the compatibility tab and check “run this program as administrator”

    -step2, open up reshack
    – click file, open, then navigate to C:\windows\system32\imageres.dll.
    – open up the imageres.dll
    – click WAVE folder, then click 5051 folder, click 1033 then right click it.
    – click replace resource
    – click “open file with new resource” and choose your wave file. (to change
    a wav file to wave, find the option to show extensions in the name)
    – click replace then type in the following boxes:
    Resource Type: WAVE
    Resource Name: 5051
    Resource language: 1033
    – click replace

    -And step3, check to see if it is the correct sound and save
    – again click WAVE then 5051 then 1033 and press play
    – should be your new sound
    – if so, then click file, save
    – finish

    *in the end, there will be two imageres.dll files in the system32 folder. one being imageres.dll (the one you created) and imageres_original.dll. i left the imageres_original.dll inside and everything seems to work fine, but you can try to take it out if you want.

    I hope this helps. i could not figure out why it wouldnt let me save the new imageres.dll. it kept saying “cant rename original file bla bla” but all i did was click the “run program as administrator” (step 1) and it worked.

  11. its easy to change it with out that permission mumbo jumbo. just start your pc in safe mode and replace the file with the new modded one just make sure not to change enything else or you might mess up your computer.!!!!!

  12. just remember once you have done it, you cant add something that lasts too long!

    just try to keep the song/music/tone(s) to a minimal playing time

    i tried to add one that lasts 1:32 but only 38 seconds of it played…

    then i modified it down to 38 seconds and it played less… and everytime i messed with it it just got less and less playing time, so luckilly i backed up the first one i did and i just put that one back there!!.

  13. Haha…at least you got yours to play something…I modded everything with no errors or hold ups and when i went to reboot it wouldn’t even play my sound and it has a runtime of 40 sec…and before anyone says anything yes i have the box checked to play the frakin start-up sound. I finally gave up and replaced the original dll.

  14. A) Be sure to use ResHack in Safe Mode on the Administrator Account for this.
    B) If this doesn’t work, use Eraser to get rid of the original file.

    I’ve been able to do this once successfully using the listed instructions, in Safe Mode on the Administrator account, but when I tried to do it afterwards using the same procedure, it gave me the file permission mumbo jumbo.

    For anyone who’s still having this problem, make sure you try’s suggestion about changing the advanced permissions. Then, make a backup of the original for safety. Once you do that, go into Safe Mode in the Administrator account.

    If you’re administrator account doesn’t show up, run “cmd” from the Start –> Run dialog and type in: Net user administrator /active:yes

    After running ResHack with admin privileges, open up the file straight from System32 and edit it. Navigate to the wave file and right-click; choose to replace the resource. Make sure to use “WAVE” as Resource Type and “5051” as the Resource Name. You don’t need to put in the language code.

    If this doesn’t work still, due to the file permission error, then you can try erasing the file using Eraser: I’ve found that the windows deletion command doesn’t work. Just install that baby (which is a great app anyway) in normal Windows for all users. Then, make a copy of imageres.dll, maybe in the Public folders, and edit it to your liking. Reboot into Administrator in Safe Mode, navigate to System32, and delete the original dll using Eraser. Then, you just copy in the file you made. That’s how I was able to do it the second time.

  15. Ehm, dont you just have to go to System control – Sound and change it?
    ur file should be .wav

  16. yeah, thats all you have to do. thats why so many people have been having problems doing it for almost the past year. lol

  17. @Kermit: This is referring to the sound heard when the logon screen shows, before you enter the desktop environment. It cannot be changed from the Control Panel, it’s a separate (and much shorter by default) sound.

  18. Thankyou very much! i took total control of imageres.dll and ran reshack as Administrator…That’s my conclusion.
    I hope it works for everyone.

    Look at God.

  19. What I did to bypass the security hurdle (tried all the steps and dick all happened) was enter through Safe Mode. There I found that i could transfer the file over no problem and, presto chango, I now have the Longhorn login sound.

    PS: This might only work if you manage to rename then delete the imageres.dll file before entering safe mode.

  20. Here is a simple work around I use:

    1. Uncheck the Windows Startup Sound
    2. Highlight Windows Login and browse for the sound you prefer.
    3. Click apply
    4. Reboot

    If you are single user like me, this will give you the desired result. Multi Users will be stuck with the Windows Login sound you chose.

  21. Hi i figured it out

    after you made the new dll file, save to desktop
    reboot in safe mode by pressing f8 durring boot

    then delete old dll then just drag and drop
    then Reboot.

    Email me and let me know if this works!

    Hope this Helps!

  22. Now that we all have figured out how to change the start up sound, anyone have an idea of what the resource # is for the shutdown sound. (i.e. replace resource name (number?) ? with a Wave file of your own – resource ? is the default Windows Vista (SHUTDOWN) sound. What number like 5051 is the shutdown sound?


  23. This way to change the sound, sounds much harder than the way you do it on previous versions of Windows…
    On my older PCs, All I had to do was overwrite a file on the Hard Drive named “start” and TADA…
    But this is very complicated…
    Firstly, On my laptop, (which I’m typing this from) there is no “imageres.dll” at all…
    Could someone help???

  24. Daftendirektour,
    If you use reshack and follow the step to the T then it can be done, as long as you are using Windows Vista. Plus read the whole thread hear, I think I remember picking up another clue from someoneelses input on this thread. YOU CAN DO IT!!!! Trust Me!!!

  25. Glad I could help…(I really didn’t do anything…LOL). Congrats on getting what you wanted. When I done this for a friend of mine he had me set up his computer to play a freaky sound and start up and a sound bite from Hulk 2008 “HULK SMASH” :when he slapped his hands together. Now every time he shuts down his PC it scares the crap out of him and I won’t fix it. HAHAHAHA I’m so mean….


  26. What an awesome idea, man!
    You know those “Fire Screensavers”
    I have one, And I put freaky piano sounds on it…
    And It comes on every 10 mins and It scares the living shit out of my mom!!!

  27. Hi i figured it out

    after you made the new dll file, save to desktop reboot in safe mode by pressing f8 durring boot

    then delete old dll then just drag and drop then Reboot.

    Email me and let me know if this works!

    Hope this Helps!

  28. This replacement procedure of Vista’s startup sound just doesn’t work. Neither XN nor Resource Hacker does the job. Plus, WHERE do I put the replacement WAV file? These instructions are worse than useless , they’re a total waste of time!

  29. Let’s be polite, OK?

    Comment: I DID follow the instructions in the Comments section, but could only open the DLL in XN , not Resource Hacker. When I did open it in XN, I saw the wave section, but couldn’t figure out how to replace the WAV file with my own. For example, how do I tell the DLL the path to the new WAV file?

    This procedure is far from simple, and more specific instructions need to be given. The XN site has no instructions whatsoever.

    By the way, I’m running in Vista Ultimate x64. Perhaps this plays into the situation. XN is dated 2005, for heaven’s sake! Isn’t there a more up-to-date app?

    Please comment.

    Ken Mason
    — On Sat, 2/14/09, The NeoSmart Files wrote:

    From: The NeoSmart Files
    Subject: [The NeoSmart Files] New Comment On: How-To: Changing the Windows Vista Startup Sound
    Received: Saturday, February 14, 2009, 4:28 AM

    There is a new comment on the post “How-To: Changing the Windows Vista
    Startup Sound”.

    Author: Mahmoud Al-Qudsi
    Just because you can’t follow the instructions properly doesn’t make
    them useless. It’s more of a reflection on the user than anything else.

    See all comments on this post here:

    To manage your subscriptions or to block all notifications from this site,
    click the link below:

  30. Forget about all these ridiculously complicated instructions. Follow Gary L. Wynn’s simple advice. It works just fine, without having to hack resource files. And Vista even shows you where to dump the new WAV file: C:\Windows\Media.

  31. Nevermind all the Resource Editor crap.

    Gary L. Wynn’s workaround was perfect. Much easier and no messing about.

  32. hi!
    is there any rules for the log on wave file?
    like its maximum length or size..
    i used dvdsoft audio converter to convert my mp4 file to .wav but it would not play during log-on

  33. finally i was able to make it work..
    i guess the only reason that it didn’t work the first time was that the new imageres.dll file is much larger than the original. i tried getting other wav files that would make the file at least smaller and it worked..
    hope i was able to help..

  34. I cannot get this to work. I have tried everything. I tried changing the properties for the Reshack so that the admin was the owner, I tried deleting the file with an eraser program, I tried doing these in safe mode, regular mode, I’ve tried deleting the file in the system32 folder and then replacing it with the new one, but NOTHING is working. Every-time I try to do anything to that stuipd file, it says “You need permission to do that” or when I edit it with reshack and try to save it, it says “Don’t have permission to save, saving canceled” or something like that. It looks like this folder has a block I cannot seem to get around.

    Does anyone have ANY suggestions on what I should do?

  35. aamp123

    to edit the imageres.dll reshacker and change the vista wav sound with your own.then save the new file outside the system32 folder;anywhere where you have permission to do so.
    on the system32 file, change the permission properties of the original imageres.dll file. right-click on the file(you know the steps) properties,click on the security tab,click the advanced button,click on the owner tab, click on the edit button, change owner to Administrator then click on apply/ok/ok..on the properties window, click on the edit button, then select Administrators from the Group or user names list, in the permissios list,click on all check boxes under ‘allow’,click on apply/ok..apply/ok.. you now have Administrative permission on the file..
    Delete the original file in the system32 folder or place it another folder (for me, I just renamed it and kept it in the same folder).Restart the computer in Safe mode.. Now copy the edited file to the system32 folder.. Restart..and that’s it..
    I got my new wav sound from this website: I chose the realworld wav sound.with this,the new imageres.dll would be less in size than the original.
    e-mail me and let me know if it worked:

  36. I found the best solution to avoid permissions denied, safe mode option, restarts etc.
    Download Unlocker (237 kb, great prog):

    First of all you MUST modified the file and SAVE IT to your desktop..!
    Now you have your modified version of imageres.dll..
    Second step, if you want, keep a copy of the original imageres.dll file somewhere..
    Then follow the easiest way..
    1)Install Unlocker (5 seconds)
    2)go to imageres.dll in system32 folder
    3)right click on it
    4)highlight “unlocker” from the content menu, click it
    5)a new window appears, in the left of it says “no action”, change this to “delete” and press ok
    6)copy your modified imageres.dll to system32 folder and enjoy…

  37. Okay, I got permission to delete the file with “unblocker” that Stelios reccomended, but my 4:12 song got cut down to :12. I knew that my entire 4:12 song wasn’t going to play, but I thought that I would at least get about :30 instead of just :12. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  38. @aamp123

    I dont know if imageres.dll playtime is limited to 12 sec but you can have extra time if you change the windows logon sound and not the startup sound…

  39. Okay, I figured everything out. But does anyone know how to change the Shutdown sound? What’s the resource number for that so I can change is in reshacker. Thanks

  40. The shutdown sound can be changing from the Sounds(Control Panel/sounds/windows logoff), only the startup sound has to do with the .dll file, all others sounds are in the sounds options…

  41. Ok,

    So I don’t get this. I download Reshacker and copied the imageres file to my documents. but when I didn that and clicked open with Reshacker, nothing happens. Will someone please help me step by step?


  42. @Elyse

    Run ResHacker and go to File–>Open, choose your mydocuments folder and open the file…
    Run Reshacker and drag n drop imageres.dll to ResHacker..

    P.S ResHacker must be extracted from the zip first..

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