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How to Find Apple's High Resolution OS X Wallpaper Images

Posted by Jim Tanous on July 28, 2014
OS X System Desktop Wallpaper

In addition to the default image that characterizes each version of its desktop operating system, Apple has long included dozens of beautiful desktop wallpaper backgrounds in OS X. These professional OS X wallpaper images — ranging from nature, to space, to abstract art — are all stored at ultra-high resolutions (with some, at 5120×2880, fueling speculation of an upcoming Retina iMac) and provide a great background canvas upon which to work. Unlike a user’s custom wallpapers that are found in the Pictures folder or iPhoto, however, Apple’s included wallpapers are tucked away in the bowels of the operating system. Here’s how to find these included OS X wallpaper images so that you can enjoy them outside of your Mac’s desktop.
To locate the included OS X wallpaper images, open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder from the Menu Bar. Enter the following location and press Return:

/Library/Desktop Pictures

Alternatively, you can easily navigate to this folder in a Finder window. Note, however, that this is the system Library folder, located at the root of the drive, and not the user Library folder.
OS X Desktop Pictures Folder
Here, you’ll find dozens of high quality wallpaper images, including the default wallpapers of previous versions of OS X, such as OS X Mountain Lion’s stylized image of the Andromeda galaxy. You’re safe using these images for personal, non-commercial purposes, as outlined in the OS X Software License Agreement, so go ahead and enjoy having these great OS X wallpaper images on your Windows or Linux system, game console, or mobile device.
One note of caution, however: be careful not to delete or remove any images from the Desktop Pictures folder (if you drag an image out of this folder, it will be copied instead of moved). You need to enter an admin password to remove an image from this folder, so it will be hard to do so by accident, but if you do somehow delete any of these images, you won’t be able to select them from the Desktop System Preference pane and you’ll have to find a replacement copy online to get it back.

8 thoughts on “How to Find Apple's High Resolution OS X Wallpaper Images”

Jan Hargrave says:
Thank you. I love the apple pictures, except “Shapes” which I find terribly ugly. Thanks for helping me get rid of it so I can let the desktop cycle through the rest of them!
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Matus says:
Great!!! 
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Ty Cahill says:
Thanks for sharing the location of these files! Is putting the files in /Library/Desktop Pictures really considered “tucked away in the bowels of the operating system”? 🙂
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Thomas Vogler says:
Kind of. It’s a place you shouldn’t play with.
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Jimmy Gelhaar says:
I think you could call junk in the Windows registry “tucked away in the bowels of the operating system”, but /Library/ is hardly ‘tucked’ away that far.
Also, using ‘bowels’ to refer to Windows seems apropo, but a terrible choice for Mac OS X.
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David McCuen says:
Thank you for this awesome tip! Exactly what I needed. I wanted to create a subset of their hi-res photos and anyway, this was perfect! Thank you.
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Ganga Mobileapptelligence says:
iOS being the second biggest mobile platform in terms of volume and first in terms of developers remuneration. iOS apps development are a part of improving business, setting signature presence and building a great brand. iOS application development companies in India, are now working for some of the top businesses and leading brand. Custom iOS apps are the flavour as of now.
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Olivia Duo says:
In a word, only google images search with the keywords “OS X Wallpaper Images”. Why need so many words to solve the problem?
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doonapps says:
Or, you can open preferences > desktops/screensaver select your desktop (highlight) and press Command and C at he same time. Then, find your folder and press Command and V at the same time. Perfect easy way.
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Apple has become ridiculous. says:
The new Os are designed primarily to protect copyrights of apple and make it as difficult as possible for us to find their content.
We can not see folders anymore – have to look it up in the web how to navigate to a simple folder, because it is not shown in the search function when browsing for it.
They highjacked Podcasts which aren’t even their invention – and now sue people for using a name they did not create in the first place, they outsource their technology to terrible chinese factories where people commit suicide because of ridiculous working conditions – and instead of being concerned for the responsibility they should take, hassle them for even cheaper production prices.
Then they produce environmontally unfriendly materials like sticking glass to aluminum so that it can not be recycled anymore.
Then they force each and every one of us to go through their appstore and add a credit card, so the ones without one are totally left out.
This is the last apple I bought and I will change to linux afterwards.
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mogwaipr says:
I sort of agree. Have you thought of the working conditions of the clone PC factories? Don’t expect anything different. China is a different realm of reality. What do you expect from a country where they replace the façade of a girl during the olympic games?
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Zeki Xu says:
There are several… let’s say examples… of your stupidi- sorry, misinformation.
You cannot see folders anymore? What did you do to your computer, download porn viruses? That would be expected of someone your intelligence level. I don’t know, what are those blue file-like things right in front of your screen? Have you tried clicking one? And search works just fine – do you even bother to look at the results when you search for something? Searching for folders works completely. Or, in your idiocy, do you not know how to spell “documents” in a search bar?
Do you even know what a search bar is?
Do you even know what a space bar is?
How does making folders hard to find protect copyright? If they really wanted to protect copyright, they’d just omit the files completely, instead of going out of their way to make it hard to find. Unlike you, they are not idiots. And folders are really darn easy to find, in my opinion. You can search for it, or navigate the idiot-proof interface. Actually, I take it back, it’s not idiot-proof since you came along and proved that idiots can still manage to break it.
“They hijacked podcasts.”
This is incredibly vague, so vague that I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Unless you’re saying that they copied podcasts, in which case Facebook copied MySpace which copied Friendster which copied actually having friends which is copying a quote by John Oliver so you should probably sue me. In fact, while you’re at it, sue Linux for copying Apple. Oh, and the second school that ever opened copied the first school that every opened and every other school that ever opened copied the second school that ever opened. In fact, you’re copying the democrats, they’re the only ones who are allowed to be this stupid so go and learn something useful.
If you think they produce environmentally unfriendly materials by sticking glass to aluminum, never buy a computer again. In fact, computers hardly ever end up in a landfill – they are recyclable, and putting glass next to aluminum does not make any difference whatsoever. Of course you wouldn’t know that, you never graduated high school, but I understand.
You do not need a credit card to visit the appstore. They do not force you to do anything. I do not have a credit card registered, and the app store works just fine. Unless you mean you want to pay for something without putting your credit card information and instead feed it raw cash, then there is something terribly wrong with you.
And that stuff about Chinese workers suiciding… I don’t even…
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