I plugged in a thumb drive to my pc, right-clicked on an image, and chose 'Set as desktop background'. The thumb drive was subsequently stolen. Windows obviously creates a copy on the image since it remains as the desktop background even after the thumb drive is removed. My question is, where exactly is this file stored?


Open regedit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Desktop\General key

The name of the key you are looking for is WallpaperSource

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  • What software is that interface? – sergiol Mar 21 '18 at 10:24
  • This is regedit / Registry Editor of Windows :) – Leo Chapiro Mar 21 '18 at 12:26
  • With some extension, no? Mine does not have toolbars nor tabs nor a Window menu: i.imgur.com/n2FMD02.png – sergiol Mar 23 '18 at 16:01
  • @sergiol If you are using Windows 10, you can enable that by going into View and selecting Address Bar – pun Jan 28 '20 at 5:11
  • @pun I am using Windows 10 and I have not an "Address bar" option on the "View" menu. Not even running regedit as Administrator. – sergiol Jan 28 '20 at 15:02

While the answers from duDE & CharlieRB is correct

I also think what OP is looking for is in %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\

There would be a file called TranscodedWallpaper.jpg which is the currently set wallpaper

  • Yup. found it! Windows Photo Viewer was unable to open it but surprisingly, VLC was... – undo Dec 2 '15 at 16:09
  • I can totally understand that cos one of my Windows shows transcodedwallpaper as unknown file. If i open it in paint or browse through any other software like photoshop it opens. Still i think it serves the purpose – pun Dec 2 '15 at 16:11
  • I've a solid color set as my wallpaper, it doesn't point to that default system wallpaper, except in CachedFiles. – user373230 Oct 7 '16 at 6:48
  • 1
    Often the file TranscodedWallpaper will have no file extension. If you rename the file to have one (such as .jpg) then it should open just fine by double clicking on it. – Richard Dec 29 '16 at 10:38
  • I found mine under the directory %AppData%\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes\RoamedThemeFiles\DesktopBackground. Original name + file extension. – victor Jan 27 '20 at 21:01

Some wallpapers are also stored in this location: C:\Users\xxxx\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets

The images don't have an extension but paint will open them. The larger files are the wallpapers. Copy the ones you want to another folder and add .jpg. List by date so you know when you get new ones.

  • Hello @drdave, Welcome to Super User! Nice answer! Note that these are the wallpapers downloaded and chosen by Windows 10 automatically, not the ones set by the user. – undo Dec 14 '16 at 15:06
  • This is the Windows Spotlight storage location. Wallpapers are not stored at this location. Seriously, read the question. – user477799 Dec 29 '16 at 14:41
  • LOL. You said that to the author of the question. – I say Reinstate Monica Jan 27 '19 at 0:19

Wasn't able to verify this because I am on a Windows 7 machine at the time...

You should be able to find the desktop and lock screen images in the C:\Windows\Web\ in there you will find a Wallpaper and Screen folders.

The Wallpaper folder contains the desktop backgrounds while the Screen folder contains lock screen images.


  • 1
    These folders only contained the default windows wallpapers, not ones which have been set by the user... :( – undo Dec 2 '15 at 16:11

I found it in cached files


  • Your answer is very similar to @pun answer. – Davidenko Jan 3 '17 at 8:31

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