The lock screen is one of the best looking elements in Windows 10. And that’s thanks to the Windows Spotlight feature that displays a new wallpaper from time to time.
If you’ve ever wanted to save the image easily, there is a free tool that you can use. It’s called Windows Spotlight Extractor.
Run the application and you will see a bunch of thumbnails. The program lists each image that has been saved by Windows Spotlight. Right-click on an image and select “Extract”, a pop-up window opens, which you can use to choose the folder where the image should be saved to. You can use the File Menu > Extract option for the same purpose.
The image is saved in the JPG format in the resolution of your computer’s screen. If you have a Full HD display, the image is in 1920 x 1080, you get the idea. That’s perfect because now you can use the saved picture as your desktop background.
Click on the view menu and enable the “file names” option. Toggling it displays the picture’s filename, which is not particularly helpful since Spotlight has random strings for the names.
Of course, there is no way to view the interesting fact about the wallpaper (history of the featured location, fact about an animal/bird, etc) hat Spotlight displays on the lock screen. So unless you recognize the landscape/wildlife in the picture, you may have to do a reverse image search on the web to learn more about it.
How does Windows Spotlight Extractor work?
The program doesn’t try to hide its secret. Click on the File menu in Windows Spotlight Extractor, and select the option that says “Open Cache Folder”. The directory is loaded in Windows Explorer, this is where the images that are downloaded by the Spotlight service are saved.
Windows Spotlight Extractor runs the following command to open the folder:
Try it yourself by pasting the above address in the Run command window (Win + R).
Yes, you don’t need to the program to get the images. That being said, there are at least 2 options which make Windows Spotlight Extractor quite useful in my opinion.
Take a look at this screenshot. There’s just one thumbnail that’s being displayed in Explorer. The rest are random files with no extension, aka file type, yet some of these are wallpapers.
I tried opening the folder directly in image viewers, but the pictures weren’t displayed in those either. The only way to check if one of these is a wallpaper is by opening each of these manually, or use a viewer like Irfan View to select one image at a time (after clicking on “all files” in the drop-down menu).
That takes time, while Windows Spotlight Extractor displays the preview of all the images in a scrollable manner. The other useful option is basically what the application was designed for, to extract, i.e. save the images. Select and save and you’re good to go.
The program is portable, which is another reason for using it.
Windows Spotlight Extractor is an open source software. If you like it, you may like BingSnap which is a similar application that can download the wallpaper of the day from Bing.
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Windows Spotlight Extractor