Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a service running that renders a changing wallpaper every 5 minutes or so, and replaces the current image file with the new one automatically (That is to say, new image but same filename). On Linux, the change is detected almost automatically, and so I have the most current wallpaper. However, on my Windows 7 machine (Which syncs the image with my Linux machine over Dropbox), it appears to cache the wallpaper from the last time I manually set the wallpaper. The image never changes, even if I restart.

Is there a way to make Windows detect the file change, or periodically refresh the wallpaper cache? I'd like to avoid third-party apps if at all possible.

share|improve this question
Did you write the service? If so, visit and ask there, because the service itself has to do this. If not, there probably isn't much you can do (although I won't give a definite answer). – Sasha Chedygov Aug 9 '10 at 0:09

Setting the wallpaper image copies it into the windows system folder in XP (and I assume Win 7). Try changing that copy to a shortcut to the file in your DropBox folder.

share|improve this answer
Unforntunately, that doesn't seem to have worked. I can't select the shortcut in Personalize -> Desktop Background -> Browse, and if I right click the shortcut and select Set as Wallpaper, it appears to copy the target instead of the shortcut. – rmartz Aug 10 '10 at 2:43
Then I would say you probably need a piece of software to update the cache. :-( – Chris Nava Aug 10 '10 at 13:22

I'm interested in this subject and I've found the following:

  • If you change the wallpaper from "Explorer" or the "Windows Gallery" then the image is copied to TrancodedWallpaper.jpg file in AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes.

  • If you change the wallpaper from "IE" then the image is copied to AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Internet Explorer Wallpaper.bmp.

  • If you change the wallpaper from "Firefox", the image is copied to AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Fondo de escritorio.bmp (in the Spanish version; I suppose Desktop Background.bmp in the English one).

The point is that, if you check HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper you'll get the path to the current desktop, but only if Explorer/Gallery changed it. The IE/FF doesn't change this key but only the desktop.

The key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Desktop\General\Wallpapersource is the source for your current desktop (for example, one desktop from the C:\windows\web\wallpaper folder).

So, it's not true that there is only one location for the wallpaper.

share|improve this answer
Welcome to Super User! This is not a forum -- If you don't have a solution, you should not post an answer. You seem to have another question or follow-up thoughts? – slhck Jul 5 '11 at 11:03

I think if you get your service to modify C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\TranscodedWallpaper.jpg you may find that’s the live desktop image.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.