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How to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images in Windows 10

Posted by Jim Tanous on January 15, 2016
windows lock screen wallpaper

We’ve previously discussed how to find and extract the wallpaper (a.k.a. desktop background) images that are part of a consumer Windows installation, but Windows 10 introduces another source of beautiful images that are exclusive to the operating system’s lock screen. Called Windows Spotlight, these often stunning images are curated by Microsoft Bing and downloaded automatically to your Windows 10-based PC or tablet so that you always have a fresh and interesting background image when you sit down to unlock your device. These Windows Spotlight images aren’t stored in the same location as regular Windows wallpaper, however, so here’s how you can find them.

Note: As mentioned in the comments, there’s now a free Windows 10 Universal App called SpotBright that can download and rotate Windows Spotlight images for you.

Enable Windows Spotlight on the Lock Screen

First, if you’re not seeing a series of professionally shot images on your Windows 10 lock screen, you’ll want to enable Windows Spotlight. To do so, log in to your Windows 10 account and go to Start > Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen.
windows 10 settings lock screen
On the right side of the Settings window you’ll see options for personalizing your Windows 10 lock screen, 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.

Note: To avoid confusion, it’s important to clarify that the Windows sign-in screen (the screen used to enter your password when first booting or logging into the PC) is different from 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 currently applies primarily to the lock screen.

At the top of the window is an option for configuring the background of your Windows 10 lock screen, with options to show a single picture from your own personal picture library, a slideshow of personal pictures, or the aforementioned Windows Spotlight. Select Windows Spotlight from the drop-down menu and you’ll see a taste of the types of images you’re in store for in the preview window above.
Once you selected Windows Spotlight for your lock screen background, you can test it out by quickly 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. Going forward, 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, or if your unlock timing happens to coincide with the moment that your PC is attempting to update the image database.
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.
If you ever want to stop using Windows Spotlight for your lock screen background images, just head back to the location in Settings referenced earlier and set the “Background” drop-down menu to either Picture or Slideshow, both of which will allow you to select any local image file instead of the images downloaded from Bing.

Where to Find Windows Spotlight Lock Screen Images

OK, so you’ve set up your Windows 10 devices to take advantage of these nice Windows Spotlight lock screen images, so now where do you find them in case you particularly enjoy a certain image and want to look at it a bit longer? This is where things get somewhat trickier compared to finding the standard Windows wallpaper images.
The first tricky part is that the images are cached deep inside your User folder, and to find them, we’ll first need to enable the “show hidden files” option in File Explorer. To do so, open a new File Explorer window 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
Phew. Well, if you’re still with us, you’ll see your Assets folder filled with a few dozen crazy files, all lacking file extensions. These are the Window Spotlight lock screen images, in disguise so to speak, and formatted for various Windows 10 device screen sizes, such as phone, tablet, and desktop.
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.

Caveats

In addition to their inconvenient location and crazy file names, the Windows Spotlight lock screen images pose a few additional issues. First, you’ll need to play around with the raw files to find the images and resolutions you prefer; using the “Icons” view in File Explorer won’t provide a preview of any image unless it has already been renamed with a JPEG extension.
The second issue is that these images are automatically downloaded, updated, and removed by Windows as part of the Windows Spotlight refresh process. That means that if you see an image you like on your lock screen, grab it quickly 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.

Conclusion

As we mentioned, the Assets folder containing the Windows Spotlight lock screen images is automatically managed by Windows, so be sure to grab any images you like quickly, and to check back periodically to see what’s new. You’ll also want to remember to copy any files out of the Assets folder before renaming them so that you can keep the Windows Spotlight feature working well.

windows spotlight lock screen images

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


A final note: this article is based on the current public version of Windows 10 as of the date of publication. Because the Windows Spotlight feature is integrated into Windows 10, we can’t guarantee that the locations and steps discussed here will work with future updates to Windows. If you’re reading this a few months or years down the road and these steps don’t work, give us a shout in the comments and we’ll see if we can find another method.

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

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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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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SPCTRM says:
Thanks for this.
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Tarryn Fischer says:
Thank you for the help!
Could you (or any other brainy person) help some more? Windows Spotlight comes with “Fun Facts” enabled- something I’ve seen on my boyfriend’s computer. However, my Spotlight only allows me to “Like what I see” (i.e. no fun facts for me).
I’ve tried the “force a lock screen image” from (Edit Group Policy > Admin > Control Panel > Personalisation > …) but my checkbox is unchecked (even though it is “not Configured” rather than “enabled”).
Do I need to include this Windows Spotlight pathway in the enabled “Force lock screen image”?
Any help on this would be great- thank you again for your comprehensive walkthrough
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Lasha Pareshishvili says:
Thanks!!! its working 10000%%% <3
Reply

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