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This program can retrieve Windows Spotlight images by requesting the Microsoft Spotlight API. SpotlightDL can also define images as wallpaper and system-wide lockscreen image.

It is useful in the following use cases:

  • Download the whole Spotlight library with maximum image resolution and metadata
  • Define Spotlight images as wallpaper, not only on Windows 10 but also on previous versions
  • Define Spotlight images as global lock screen on Win7/8/10, removing the ads on Windows 10
  • Chain SpotlightDL with your own scripts and apps by taking advantage of the url mode

How to use

Simply call SpotlightDownloader.exe from the Windows command prompt and see usage. The download/url modes should also work on Mac/Linux using the Mono framework.

A few Batch files are offered for ease of use for common tasks:

  • spotlight-download-archive: Download many images to a SpotlightArchive folder
  • update-archive-and-wallpaper: Feed the Archive and use one image as wallpaper
  • update-archive-and-lockscreen: Feed the Archive and use one image as lockscreen
  • update-wallpaper: Randomize desktop wallpaper (using a fixed-size cache)
  • update-lockscreen: Randomize system-wide lockscreen (using a fixed-size cache)
  • restore-lockscreen: Restore default system-wide lockscreen
  • generate-manual: Generate a text file with command-line usage

If you wish to periodically update your wallpaper or lockscreen, you can schedule one of the provided script by following these instructions.

How it works

Spotlight API

The Spotlight API is located on the following endpoint:

Where the expected arguments are:

  • pid : Public subscription ID for Windows lockscreens. Do not change this value
  • fmt : Output format, e.g. json
  • rafb : Purpose currently unknown, optional
  • ua : Client user agent string
  • cdm : Purpose currently unknown, cdm=1
  • disphorzres: Screen width in pixels
  • dispvertres: Screen height in pixels
  • lo : Purpose currently unknown, optional
  • pl : Locale, e.g. en-US
  • lc : Language, e.g. en-US
  • ctry : Country, e.g. us
  • time : Time, e.g. 2017-12-31T23:59:59Z

The JSON response contains details for one or more image(s) including image url, title, sha256, ads, etc.

Spotlight API URL was originally found in this file and up to date API URL in this file, thanks to the authors for their findings!

Global lock screen

The global lock screen images for Windows 8 and 10 are stored as C:\Windows\Web\Screen\imgXXX.jpg. SpotlightDL backups each image as imgXXX.jpg.bak if it does not already exists, then overwrite this file. The lock screen image cache, located at C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\SystemData\S-1-5-18\ReadOnly\LockScreen_*, must be cleared for the change to take effect.

SpotlightDL gets around NTFS permissions on these folders being locked down to TrustedInstaller by setting the local Administrators group as new owner of the relevant files and folders, and granting full control to this group. Then, programs running as administrator can overwrite the lockscreen image and clear the cache.

This way of replacing the lockscreen is basically a C# implementation of this script, avoiding the use of the takeown and iacls commands which are not reliable due to a localization issue.

Windows 7 support is also implemented through the OEMBackground feature:


Then the image has to be placed in C:\Windows\System32\oobe\info\backgrounds\backgroundDefault.jpg Windows 7 enforces a limit of 250 KiB so SpotlightDL will recompress the image to the highest quality fitting in that limit.


SpotlightDL is provided under CDDL-1.0 (Why?).

Basically, you can use it or its source for any project, free or commercial, but if you improve it or fix issues, the license requires you to contribute back by submitting a pull request with your improved version of the code. Also, credit must be given to the original project, and license notices may not be removed from the code.