I liked one of my wallpapers which had a Windows-like background. I changed it to something else for some reason. Now I want to get it it back but I cannot find it. I don't know the file name. I originally downloaded it from the Internet. I searched for it but cannot find it anymore.

Is there a way to retrieve an old desktop wallpaper on mac ox x (I am using Mountain Lion). I think on Windows you can access you old wallpapers easily.


If you want to add a custom desktop background, you cannot just add an image directly. Choosing a picture would add the folder it's contained in to the sidebar in System Preferences » Desktop & Scren Saver.

For example here, I've added an image from the Desktop as a wallpaper. You can see the Desktop folder to the left.

If you later changed your wallpaper (e.g. to some default), and did not delete the folder from the sidebar (by clicking -), then all you have to do to retrieve your old desktop background is to go to the folder it was contained in, and search for it.

If you however deleted the folder from the Desktop & Screen Saver pane, finding out the previous location of your background image is not possible unless you went through every folder, or looked at every image on your Mac.

And, of course, if you deleted the actual file that was used as a background, you cannot restore it unless you had a Time Machine backup (you do have one, right?), or didn't clear it from the Trash yet.

  • Thanks. This helps but I still could not find my old wallpaper. I see "Pictures" directory added on the left. I looked all the pics in that folder but could not find the one I am looking for. I am sure I did not delete the pic. All I did was just change it. But its a good help though. – hk_ Jul 4 '13 at 18:12
  • Hmm. If you changed it, you probably did so by clicking another one in the preferences? That'd mean your old one magically disappeared :) On OS X it's not like in Windows where the Desktop picture is copied to one specific location, so when it's gone, it's gone, I'm afraid. – slhck Jul 4 '13 at 18:16
  • That could be a very valid point! So in that that my older directory would no longer appear in left side? I can try at least searching it in other folders. – hk_ Jul 4 '13 at 18:20
  • Well, if you removed the complete folder you wouldn't have a trace of what it was, but the chance that you deleted the actual wallpaper image file is very low indeed. – slhck Jul 4 '13 at 18:30

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