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I know this is possible as I did it once before.

How do you set the login background wallpaper to something else using terminal?

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The login screen background image is located at /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg — you can simply sudo cp another jpeg image to replace it (though I'd recommend backing it up first!).

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You can do it using AppleScript:

tell application "Finder"
     set desktop picture to POSIX file "/path/to/file.jpg"
end tell

It should be fairly easy to package this in an Automator script.

Alternatively, you can use defaults:

defaults write Background '{default = {ImageFilePath = "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Black & White/Lightning.jpg"; };}'

I haven't tested this myself, so you may have to run killall Dock before this takes effect.

Edit: more information on this and launchd

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The question is now to change the login wallpaper, not the desktop wallpaper. The script you provided only works for the desktop background. – Peter Apr 12 '12 at 3:15

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