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Windows Spotlight is a new Windows 10 feature which displays random images on your lock screen.

Now every now and then the picture happens to be a particularly nice one, and I'd like to know more about it. (What does it show? Where was it taken?)

I was able to (kind of) solve this problem with the following steps:

  1. Go to the lock screen settings. A preview of the current lock screen image is shown there.

  2. Take a screenshot of the preview and upload it to Google Reverse Image Search.

Is there an easier way?

  • Note: I have deliberately not tagged this with the spotlight tag, since that one refers to the OS X search service. – Heinzi Dec 11 '15 at 8:33
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    The images are stored on disk as described in answer to this Q. You can also use PrtSc if you don't mind the text overlay. The JPEG image files contain no IPTC info about location, date, photographer or copyright. Like you, I'd like to know more. – RedGrittyBrick Jan 26 '16 at 19:09
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    I've started a wikipedia page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Spotlight), it's just a stub so far. But it is annoying there's no easy way to find out the photographer, location etc. etc. – Dylan Nicholson Apr 30 '16 at 21:41
  • tineye.com – ahorn Nov 5 '18 at 10:51
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+50

To save the Spotlight images stored on your computer, see this procedure in this article:
How to save Windows Spotlight lockscreen images so you can use them as wallpapers.

To download almost all Spotlight images from Microsoft servers in a few minutes in high-resolution, see the SpotBright app.

Once you have the images, you can scan them for metadata that may contain information about where they came from.

There are various mechanisms for embedding metadata in images : IPTC, EXIF, XMP. This metadata is the only textual data contained inside the image.

EXIF is stored in the image by the camera and may contain information such as the GPS coordinates (if the camera has GPS, which most smartphones do). IPTC and XMP are added manually, as is normally done by professional photographers.

The best tool I have found for displaying that information is the free Picture Information Extractor. Try this tool on one of these downloaded images to see if Microsoft has kept some of that data or scrubbed it out.

If you have found such a useful tag(s), there exist image renamers that can use metadata tags to batch-rename the images.

  • Thanks. This would be a great answer to, for example, this question, but, unfortunately, not to mine. – Heinzi Jan 27 '16 at 8:35
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    @harrymc. We want to know who took the photo, where it was taken, when etc. The sort of info that is sometimes present in IPTC metadata tags within JPEG files. – RedGrittyBrick Jan 27 '16 at 10:12
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    @harrymc: In a nutshell, the question was: How do I find a description of the image. – Heinzi Jan 27 '16 at 10:13
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    I have added one such mechanism to my answer. – harrymc Jan 28 '16 at 20:35
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    These images don't have any EXIF or other information, unfortunately. – Klitos Kyriacou Jan 20 '18 at 13:24
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Apparently, the "what does it show" issue has been fixed (silently). In the current version (Windows 10 14393.105) hovering over the "Like what you see?" tag shows the name of the location:

enter image description here

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    I have 14393.693 and I still don't get this info. My GF's Win 10 machine shows it. Frustrating. – Igor Brejc Mar 13 '17 at 4:51
  • I'm not seeing more info on the picture when I hover, just an option to say whether or not I like it. – user628418 Jun 20 '17 at 17:00
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Information found here from DSKslund, it solved my problem: Microsoft forum

It's a user account security issue.

Go to or in the general settings search for "User Accounts" Select "Manage User Accounts" At the top, select the "Advanced" tab.

In the bottom section: "Secure Sign-in": now DE-select "Require users to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete"

That's it. Lock your computer (windows + L) and you should magically see all the info everyone else has. If that doesn't work like I said and you're worried about security, simply recheck the box and you're no worse for wear.

You will also find that when your computer is locked, now you can just press any key to bring up the login. This does NOT negate having to log in - just not having to press Ctrl+Alt+Del.

  • Luc, OP wanted information on how to get information about the image, not the image itself or the tags that sometimes overlay the images, which is a different setting altogether than the one you mention. While your answer speaks to one possible cause why Spotlight might not be working and therefore is NOT an answer to this question. Please read the questions carefully and avoid posting incorrect answers due to misunderstanding. – music2myear Feb 17 '17 at 17:47
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    Precisely music2myear, if you disable login by Ctrl+Alt+Delete then the lock screen will display links to web pages about the image content and also the "Like what you see" button. – Luc Feb 18 '17 at 17:23
  • How did you find this? Impressed! – bbsimonbb Jul 12 '17 at 11:55
3

Since I was encountering similar frustrations, I wrote a Python script to perform this lookup not long ago. Hope it helps.

GitHub: Windows 10 Lock Screen Image Lookup

1

The real issue looks likely to be a bug rather than a setting. I'd been wondering about this since upgrading a load of PCs to W10 Pro just before the end of the free upgrade offer.

Some, but very few, had extended information about the images (but not all images, some just had links to XBox or Windows Store content).

My own machine didn't have the info but my personal Surface with W10 Pro installed did. Settings were all exactly the same.

Today I accessed Windows>Settings>Lock Screen, changed back to Picture with Cortana features enabled, changed to Slideshow with custom folder, then back to Spotlight and I now have the info on the images. Presumably a bug rather than a feature that has driven a lot of people nuts.

Hope this works for you if you try it.

  • Hugh Miller's response nailed it! One additional thing--the "Slideshow with custom folder" part is absolutely key. I went back in after I got it working, removed my custom folder (just being a bit OCD) and when I switched back to Spotlight, the extended info was gone! So I repeated the process and this time left the custom folder there under the slideshow setting and the extended info is back... Most definitely a bug (or a bizarre way to hide a "special feature")... – Chris S. Aug 11 '17 at 5:08
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I found this article which gives a handy VBScript to find the current image, copy it to your Pictures folder, and open it in your favorite image viewer

http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/find-file-name-lock-screen-image-current-displayed/

From there, it is easy to open in Google Image search by copy and pasting the image to the upload form located at https://images.google.com/

protected by Community Aug 11 '17 at 8:23

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