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How to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images in Windows 10

Posted by Robert Hayes on June 29, 2019
windows lock screen wallpaper

Windows 10 is easily the most graphically-attractive and image-oriented Windows version yet released by Microsoft, and nowhere does that show more clearly than in the operating system’s ongoing support of beautiful wallpapers, themes, and background images. Most wallpaper and theme images are very easy for users to find and repurpose for other uses (see our article on how to locate wallpaper images in Windows 10 for complete information) but one source of images is a little bit trickier to track down. That set of images is known as Windows Spotlight, and it is a set of stunning images curated via Microsoft Bing that automatically download to your Windows 10 installation and display on the lock screen of your device.

Enabling Windows Spotlight

You may be saying “huh? what images?” in which case you should enable Windows Spotlight on your PC.  Fortunately this is a simple process.

Click in the search box of your Windows 10 task bar and type “lock screen”, then hit return. This will launch the Lock Screen settings app.

In the “Background” dropdown, you have several choices – if your background is set to something other than Windows Spotlight, just change it. There are a number of other options here as well, including toggles for which apps can show a quick or detailed status and an option to hide or show your Windows desktop background on the sign-in screen.

One point of clarification: there is a difference between the Windows sign-in screen (the screen used to enter your password when first booting or logging into the PC) and the Windows lock screen, which is the screen used to lock your PC but keep your user account running or asleep in the background. The Windows Spotlight feature discussed here applies to the lock screen.

You can test the Spotlight feature quickly by locking your PC (keyboard shortcut Windows Key + L). Based on the speed of your Internet connection, it may take a few moments for a new Windows Spotlight image to load, as Windows has to grab the image from Bing’s servers. If you have Spotlight turned on already, Windows will grab these images in the background ahead of time, but there may be some lag if you’ve just turned the feature on.

windows spotlight feedback
While previewing your new Windows Spotlight background images on the lock screen, you may occasionally see a text box in the upper-right corner that asks if you “like what you see.” You can hover over this box with your mouse cursor, or tap on it if using a touchscreen device, to answer yes (“I want more!”) or no (“Not a fan”). Windows and Bing will then use this information to custom tailor future images to your personal tastes, much in the same way that users can give ratings to custom song playlists on services like Pandora or Apple Music.

Where to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images

Once you have Spotlight enabled on your computer, your computer will start collecting a variety of these stunning pictures. So where do you find them on your PC? You might expect that, like your Theme or Wallpaper images, there’s a Spotlight directory tucked away somewhere with a nicely categorized hierarchy of image subfolders underneath it, but alas, no. For whatever reason, Microsoft has made it downright tricky to get at these pictures.

The first layer of trickiness is that Microsoft has set these files to be hidden, meaning they won’t show up in your File Explorer on a casual scan. The second layer of trickiness is that the files are buried down in your User directory. The third layer of trickiness is that the files have horrible random garbage names, and no image extensions to make them readily identifiable. It’s almost as if Microsoft doesn’t want you to do this.

Fortunately, this trickery can all be overcome with the right process. Without further ado, here’s how to get at these images.

The first thing to do is to open a File Explorer window and tell it to show hidden files. Open a new File Explorer window (click in the search box on the task bar and type “explorer” and hit return) and click on the View tab. Next, find and click Options on the far right of the File Explorer ribbon toolbar (you may need to adjust the size of your File Explorer window to see it).
windows 10 file explorer options
In the Folder Options window that appears, select the View tab and then, in the “Advanced Settings” list, click the button labeled Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
windows 10 file explorer folder options
Click Apply to save the change and then OK to close the Folder Options window.

Now, in File Explorer navigate to This PC > C: > Users > [Your User Name] > AppData > Local > Packages > Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy > LocalState > Assets.
windows spotlight assets folder

We’re not even joking, that’s the file path.

You should see an Assets folder with a whole bunch of files, all with garbage names, all lacking file extensions. These are your Windows Spotlight lock screen images, in a variety of sizes and formats.

If you’re planning to use any of the Windows Spotlight images on your desktop PC or laptop, you’ll want the desktop-sized versions of these images, and these versions are generally the ones with the largest file sizes (switch File Explorer to the “Details” view and make sure the “Size” column is enabled to help you identify the correct images).

Now we need to make sense out of this mess of files. The files are actually just JPEG images with unique file names, so grab one or two of the files with the larger file sizes (typically greater than 400KB) and copy it to your desktop or another folder on your PC. Next, highlight the file and press F2 on your keyboard to rename it (alternatively, you can right-click on a file and select Rename from the menu).
windows spotlight image rename
You can either keep the crazy file name and just add “.jpg” to the end, or you can rename it entirely (i.e., “image1.jpg”). In either case, after renaming the file to add the JPEG extension, you should be able to double-click on it to open it in the Windows Photos app or your image viewer/editor of choice.

In addition to the wacky location and the incomprehensible file names, these images have a few other issues. First, you’ll have to play with the raw files to find the images and resolutions you prefer – the “Icons” view in File Explorer won’t provide a preview of any image unless it has already been renamed with a JPEG extension. Second, these images are constantly being downloaded, updated, and removed as the Spotlight program rotates through its library. So if you seen an image you want, you’ll need to grab it before the Assets folder gets refreshed with a new stack of images.

Finally, even though these are high quality professional photos, it seems that 1080p (1920×1080) is the maximum resolution that Windows Spotlight will deliver to your device, even if you’re using a higher resolution display. While the images will scale relatively well thanks to their high quality source files, you won’t have perfect results on your 4K monitor. This shouldn’t be an issue for most of us.

windows spotlight lock screen images

A sample of some of the Windows Spotlight lock screen images.

Get the Spotlight Images With an App

If all of the above seems like a lot of trouble to go to in order to get some images files (particularly in light of the fact that you’ll have to do it on a regular basis to catch new updated images), then there’s some good news. There is a free app on the Windows 10 store called Spotlight Wallpapers, and it will handle this process for you.

Get the Spotlight Images With a Website

If you want to get access to the thousands of images that have been featured on Windows Spotlight today, then you will be interested to learn that there is a website which has collated the images from the very beginning of the program. The Windows 10 Spotlight Images site has more than 2000 Spotlight images archived, and more are added daily.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips for getting access to these beautiful pictures? If you do, then please share your ideas with us in the comments below!

We have more wallpaper resources for you to check out!

We’ve got a guide to the best places for finding dual-monitor wallpapers.

Like Apex Legends? Check out our guide to the best Apex Legends wallpapers for Windows.

Tesla fans should take a look at our guide to the best Tesla wallpapers for Windows and Mac.

Make your own wallpaper with our tutorial on creating a wallpaper collage on Windows 10.

Space nuts take note – here’s our guide to the best space-themed wallpapers for your desktop.

30 thoughts on “How to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images in Windows 10”

Kamil K. W says:
Stupid image I was looking for to delete was here:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData\S-1-5-21-3549939596-2894022900-2197901164-1001\ReadOnly\LockScreen_O

Finally!

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Diya B says:
Hi,

Many thanks for the info! I could view few of the files. But my question is that in my computer when the lock screen turns on it shows the location of the pic. How do I find that? I renamed to *.jpg one of these files and thought that the location may be in file info. But it is not. Whenever there is a pic of a a beautiful pace I ususaly note down the place. I am trying to find the location of a wildflower field in japan. It went by only about weeks ago. Any idea!
Thanks again!

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YATIN says:
And it was the best explanation of path,
I really wanted the spotlight image and it really worked,
so thank you brother.
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Sam says:
Great to know all. However my problem is not yet solved. I am not concerned with pictures window find and temporarily store in asset folder of Spotlight. I have added two personal images that took in “Lock Scree” and have lost both the originals. I am hoping to somehow get them from where they are stored and Asset folder had all the windows auto selected images but not those two that I have added. I still can chose between the two and they don’t get erased over a period of about a year. So I assume they are in another folder but where. Can any one so kindly help me with this?
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Sam Sen says:
I have my own image taken and use as Screen Lock. Now where is that image? Checked the image folders as above and after renaming them with .jpg, non is the image I added and am currently use. Anyone knows where this kind of images are stored?
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jane says:
I had some people get into my computer and delete all the images, they ruined my ability to use spotlight. I did somehow capture some of their images and run those over and over, they did a super job of ruining my computer.
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jack says:
thanks budy , its work…
thanks alot
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Nate says:
I made a little bat file with the following commands:
set CoolPhotos=”c:\mycoolphotos”
del “%CoolPhotos%\*.*” /Q
copy “%localappdata%\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets\*.*” “%CoolPhotos%”
ren “%CoolPhotos%\*.*” “*.jpg”
Copies all files to a folder of your choice and appends .jpg to all, ready to view. Works great!
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Stefanos A says:
Simply copy this to file explorer address bar:
%Userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets
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Stefanos A says:
And use RenameMaster to add to all files .jpg extension at the and of the name
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Alison says:
No need to use RenameWhatever.
Once you copy those files to a new folder you created, go to that new folder. For me, I would:
ROBOCOPY %Userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets Pics /DCOPY:T
And go to Pics folder created.
Open the good ol’ Command Prompt, or the modern PowerShell (search it or type cmd in the address bar).
Issue the following command: FOR %F IN (*) DO @RENAME %F %F.jpg
All of those files will be suffixed with jpg.
And by the way, the current Lock Screen pic is not there. It’s in:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData\S-1-5-18\ReadOnly\LockScreen_Z
And you need ownership to that.
Paulina says:
I really wanted an image off of spotlight, and I couldn’t find it through google. I tried looking through my computer files myself, but still couldn’t find it, and I wouldn’t have identified those weird files as pictures anyway – so thank you!
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daisy says:
The information of where the photo taken, e.g. California, USA, is not showing when mouse hover. All I see was do you like it. Went to the temp folder, property of the image doesn’t say anything in details either.
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dumisani says:
I am looking for a lock screen image that appeared after updating my windows 10, I liked it, on it was a beautiful scenery with a big stone on the side of a road.
I like the lock screens but we need more variety
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Kavi Rana says:
thank you so much!
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Cathy Phillips says:
Just…thank you. Really helpful.
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Michael Stephenson says:
C: > Users > [Your User Name] > AppData > Local > Packages > Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy > LocalState > Assets
Really? What the f is that >>>> dont tell me u r open u computer with mouse but not via winE?
C:UsersserraxerAppDataLocalPackagesMicrosoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewyLocalStateAssets
or %userprofile%AppDataLocalPackagesMicrosoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewyLocalStateAssets
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koldfish says:
Just get Spotbright on the Windows Store, that auto downloads and allows you to browse all of the Windows Spotlight images, very simple and easy.
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Linda says:
How do you do this? Can’t find it in the Windows Store, but then again, I’m not very tech savvy…
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neonix says:
PSA: Directory Opus, an alternative file explorer/manager for Windows targeted at power users, will actually detect the file formats and show thumbnails of these images in the Assets folder despite not having file extensions!
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Terry Quinn says:
My lock screen image is frozen on the one image. Following your steps Windows spotlight is selected for Background and the toggle switch is on. I can change the photo there in settings but when I turn on I get the same picture every time.
It used to work and I thought it was a great feature.
Is there something else I should look at to fix this.
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Jaime Stuardo says:
I think it would be interesting to add to this feature the location of the image when it is a landscape. For example, sometimes a beautiful landscape appears and I wonder where that picture was taken as @allisonllanos:disqus wrote. The location name could be placed in some corner of the picture or enable right click properties option when in lock screen.
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Jodi Boydston says:
I need help, I can’t find the assets folder. I went through all steps, from This PC to LocalState, Asset wasn’t there. Mine said Tips and it was empty. I’m going to take a break for now.
Thanks,
Jodi
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Amit Khatri says:
There are some pictures which windows keep showing me again and again on my lock screen. I don’t want to seem them anymore. But, there is no option to unlike the photos which you have liked in past. What should I do.
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Adedokun Samuel says:
I cant find the windows spotlight option on my lock screen settings help
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Bill Sticker says:
I put a shortcut for this folder onto my desktop
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john ramsbottom says:
this is correct so far, but not the only answer I feel. I had a jigsaw game program on my PC and when the puzzle was completed, there was option to use completed image as Lock screen, which I foolishly clicked on. I now want to get rid of this image, but it is not in the assets folder described in the article. Any ideas where to find it?
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Louanne Williamson says:
i can find the files. I have copied and pasted them into a folder and tried to rename them as jpg files .They are ‘Dead’. ” No preview available”. I don’t even get a spotlight photo when I restart on my lock screen.
Went to “store & tried to re-download. Nothing.
Have spent hours because I loved those photos.
Appreciate any suggestions–I have read and tried a lot of complicated things to no avail. such as typing “ren * *.jpg” which adds “.jpg” to the end of all files in this directory.And using command prompt……any help?
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Veda says:
Probably it is an artist rendering and not a photograph of a real scene. That would explain why the information on the scene and photographer are blank in the properties
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Lili says:
Thank you so much.
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Richard J Dalton Jr says:
Great explanation! I’m so happy I was able to save a beautiful photo.
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loloyd says:
I am now looking for a publicly hosted Windows Spotlight cache. I could maybe find items there that I got awestruck with in the past. Or maybe I should start one, unless somebody else knows of an index or catalog like this that already exists?
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loloyd says:
Thank you very much. Some of the pictures are too stunning to just ignore. Unfortunately, I only had the inclination to search for the cached location of these pictures only now and then found your website about the “Assets” folder. Some of the stunning photos from the past have long gone. I now have created a quick shortcut on my desktop and my home folder to the Assets folder for when I get to stumble upon another stunning picture. Again, thank you for your helpful article.
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