One of the few things that brings every day workers like us a heightened sense of morale is the ability to customize the computer screen you stare at for eight hours a day with something that gives us a little bit of joy. Every version of Windows, from the ancient days of Windows 3.1 all the way through Windows 10, has brought with it a library of wallpaper images for users of the operating system to put on their desktop. Wallpapers are the images that you can set as your background for your desktop, and serve to remind us that there’s much more in this world than the text and figures that comprise most of our day. Whether you want to vary your viewing with some abstract art, or stare blissfully at a bucolic field with no businesses, bosses, or budgets in sight, wallpapers give our cubicles a little life. No wonder you might want to choose one that inspires you!
Finding Your Wallpaper Images
First, you might want to go shopping for the images available on your computer. If you would like to use the images in your Windows 10 wallpaper installation in some other way – for example, as a background on another device, or on an older version of Windows – you will need to find the actual location of the files being displayed. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult.
By default, Windows 10 stores your wallpaper images in the “C:\Windows\Web” directory. You can access this directory very simply by clicking in the search bar in the Windows 10 task bar and type “c:\windows\web” and hitting return. The directory will pop right up. There are several subdirectories where your wallpapers could be stored; just click around through the directories and you will find your images.
Using Windows 10 Themes
However, many Windows 10 users don’t use the standard wallpaper files – instead, they use Windows 10 Themes. Microsoft has made hundreds of themes available for free via the Microsoft store, and some of them are quite spectacular. You can browse through the available themes here. These themes can range from your favorite game, to a collection of splendid outdoor views, to a collection that gives you that executive je ne sais quoi. Once you’ve downloaded a theme, you’re ready to access those files and bring them to the forefront. They are located in your local user directory, which is rather lengthy for typing in – fortunately there’s a shortcut.
Again, click in the search bar in the Windows 10 task bar and this time type “%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes” and hit return. The themes directory will launch. The image files will be found in the subdirectory for the appropriate theme – for example, in the window shown above, you’d click on “Ancient E” to find the files for the Ancient Egypt theme, which is the only theme installed on my computer. (Any other history fiends out there?)
If you want to find the Windows 10 lock screen images, they’re a little trickier to find – but we have a helpful walkthrough that will teach you how to find the Windows Spotlight lock screen images.
Most of the Windows 10 wallpaper and theme images come in standard pixel sizes ranging from 1920×1200 to 3840×1200, and they’ll look great on most screens and devices without any fuss.
Let’s say you really, really like the theme you snagged at work, but you’re not sure you’ll be able to grab it for another device. Simply copy the desired image to a flash drive or online storage service and then transfer it to your mobile device or other PC and use the appropriate settings there to configure it as your background wallpaper.
An important note, however: these images are owned or licensed by Microsoft for the personal non-commercial use of Windows users. That means you’re free to enjoy them for your own personal use, but don’t use them in advertising, videos, or for any other commercial purpose. You will be found, and Microsoft will not be amused.
If you’re interested in making the most of your work space as an expression of your true, creative self, we have plenty of guides for making the most of wallpapers to liven up your office.
Do you have a dual monitor setup? Check out our guide to where to find dual monitor wallpapers.
If you’re graphically-minded, you might want to create your own image collage wallpapers for Windows 10.
We have a walkthrough of how to add 3D animated wallpapers to Windows 10.
Want to get spooky? See our guide to Halloween wallpapers for your PC.
If the psychedelic is more your thing, check out our guide to trippy wallpapers for Windows 10.