How to stop "My Pictures" files from automatic inclusion in Wallpapers cache?

By vinaya_pande · 57 replies
Feb 29, 2008
  1. From: vinaya_pande "Newcomer in training" (ouch!)

    Hi everybody!

    I have only recently discovered that picture files in the "My Documents">"My Pictures" folder are automatically sent by Windows to the Desktop Wallpapers cache. I don't want them there. The Web has provided "copping out" solutions, such as "shift the pictures elsewhere from the My Pictures folder and the unwanted intruders in the Wallpapers cache shall vanish". But these kinds of solutions beg the question. Why should I move the files to another place? Why can't there be a provision for prompting the user whether he wants the pictures as potential Wallpapers? Is this an example of oversight by the supergeeks designing/refining the Windows OS? Or, is a bug in my system (or in the OS) to blame? So, please, please tell me how to stop the pictures ending up as additional Wallpapers, without uncalled for surgery on the folder.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Windows doesn't do that basically.

    You must have either:
    Another program using My Pictures as your wallpaper, installed
    Display Properties (in Control Panel) Screensaver, is using your My Pictures folder
  3. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    "I have only recently discovered that picture files in the "My Documents">"My Pictures" folder are automatically sent by Windows to the Desktop Wallpapers cache."

    I don't think this is an accurate assessment. To change the desktop wallpaper, the browse function is available to go to My Pictures and make a choice. What are you seeing differently?
  4. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    Window installs examples,
    usually in the Windows folder after installing.
    Create another folder for you personal pictures.
    Delete the ones in Windows if it bothers you that much.
    Sort Windows folder by types.bmp and jpg are usuallly Wallpaper examples.
  5. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    This is where the wallpapers are linked from:
  6. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Posts: 4,274

    What's the problem with the wallpaper cache in the first place ? Is it so bloated that it takes up a large chunk of your hard drive ? If I'm not mistaken it will only register the pictures that are in the root of the pictures folder so if you have sub-folders it should not add them in the cache.
  7. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    You have replys

    A few pictures won't take much HD space.There are many other useless files
    you should be concerned about,like tmp gid and bak.
    Run Disk Cleanup.:)
  8. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    If using XP you can utilize TweakUI to change that - under the 'My Computer', 'Special Folders' tabs you select 'My Pictures' and change it to a folder you made ahead of time, like maybe 'MyPictures'.

    Since that is what you want, that's how to do it.

    Want to return:
  9. timwest16

    timwest16 TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Has anyone come up with a solution to this problem? As I too am having the same problem. Today I looked at my display properties, and in the list of wallpapers, all of the pictures kept in the 'My Pictures' folder have been added to the list.

    Basically windows has automatically added all of 'My Pictures' to the background list.
  10. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    Please understand- this is not a second set of pictures- it's just a 'list' of pictures you can use on the desktop! It is NOT a problem!
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,029   +2,558

    One of captaincranky's extreme solutions......

    It has a steep learning curve, but Adobe Photoshop Elements (specifically the organizer) makes it easy to move a tag photos to wherever you want them. Every version from 3.0 has the organizer.

    For downloading photos just create a desktop folder. Call it "Firefox Downloads", store the photos there, or cut (or copy) and paste them to a folder of you choice. I normally never use "cut", I copy the files, then delete the originals when I'm certain they're where I want them.

    Windows just defaults to the "My Pictures" so you don't loose them.

    Whatever you do DON'T let Nero's "Snap Photo" app anywhere near them. It hijacks the whole file system, and renders any of the folders inaccessable to other programs.

    The whole idea is controlling the files the minute the are first imported. You could even create a "Wallpaper" folder and target the "desktop appearance" folder to it.
    NEVER click "Apply" to change the wallpaper, it re-targets to the original Windows wallpaper folder. Just click "OK", and the next time you want change the photo you will be led right to your new folder.
  12. timwest16

    timwest16 TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Yes Bobbye, I don't think you understand. We all get that it is just a list. However it is a list that shows all of my personal photos etc, and substantially slows down the loading of the display properties box if I ever want to change my desktop or the associated settings, as I have hundreds of photos.

    The main issue is that Windows XP has randomly after 5 years decided to automatically add all the photos in the My Pictures folder to the desktop list. It never did this before!

    And I do not want to have to move all of my photographs out of My Pictures. It has worked perfectly for years without ever automatically adding the photos in My Pictures to the list. Therefore this is clearly a fault with Windows and I was hoping someone might know how to correct it. I have tried changing the location of the wallpapers folder through the windows registry however this made no difference at all.

    Surely there is someone out there who knows how to solve this problem. Moving the photos out of My Pictures is not a solution, it is simply a work around.
  13. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    What is in C:\WINDOWS\Web anyway?
  14. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    Create a new folder named My Pictures 2. Move the pictures from the original My Pictures folder that you do not want to appear in the desktop display. Then only the pictures remaining in the system folder, My Pictures will show.

    You have to realize that every update for any program, app, OS and so on will change a system- some more than others. While things worked fine for 5 years, you system now has the results of all those update to contend with.

    So you're going to have to bend a bit Since My Pictures is a system folder, you can't do much to change it-except to move some pictures out..
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,029   +2,558

    XP does show in the "My Pictures" folder as a "Picture Task", Set as Desktop Background". I didn't click it, for verily I was sore afraid to do so..

    As far as moving the pictures out of the "My Pictures" being a "work around", so be it. If the "My Pictures" folder is included with the OS on C:/, that's just asking for trouble anyway.

    Are you sure the "My Pictures" folder for one reason on another hasn't become the target of the "Desktop" tab.

    I have a separate folder for wallpaper files, dependent on the screen resolution of the (actually which) monitor I'm using, and don't have the problem you describe.

    That said, this copy of XP has only been installed 3 years and change, I could just be lucky also.
  16. Bobbye

    Bobbye Helper on the Fringe Posts: 16,334   +36

    My Pictures is included in My Documents & Settings.

    While you may download specific "wallpaper" for the desktop, to the best of my knowledge, that will be in a separate folder.

    However, the My Pictures folder makes the contents available to be used as desktop wallpaper.

    I have never been able to understand why people get bent out of shape over this 'non-issue'! They are NOT duplicates of your pictures and if anyone has 'so many' pictures available that they cannot find what they want to make a choice, it's simple- set up folders and sub-folders for them!
  17. timwest16

    timwest16 TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Ok guys very simply:

    1. Any photo in My Pictures is being picked up in the display properties box as a background. This is frustrating a) because of time to load display properties b) because it means that personal photos that are usually tucked away in seperate folders and sub folders are now on show c) I like to be in control of my computer d) because this is not an update to Windows XP (it has not happened on my Laptop which I keep up to date as well, nor has it happened on lots of other peoples computers).

    2. The pictures have not been duplicated, nor have they been copied into the default wallpapers folder found in C:\WINDOWS\Web. For some reason every photo contained in My Pictures even those in sub folders is now automatically detected and placed in the display properties wallpaper list. It has never done this in the 5 or even 6 years I have had my computer and I update it whenever there are updates available. And considering I have searched google and seen people with this problem posting since 2004 it is obviously not an update,

    3. It is clearly an error with the system because you should be able to change the default folder that Windows gets its backgrounds from simply by going to registry entry below:


    And then changing WallPaperDir key to have a value of whatever location the folder is in.

    This has made absolutely no difference, no matter what folder I set it to

    4. As I said moving the photos out of My Pictures is clearly not a solution, simply a work around. If you don't know how to solve this problem, then please don't just repeat the same stuff.

    Thank you for your time, but please stop suggesting I move the pictures. A real solution to FIX the problem would be nice.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,029   +2,558

    OK, of late I haven't seen any XP updates that needed let's not be too hasty to blame M$, inspite of the fact it always makes me feel much better.

    If it "JUST" started doing it, then why not try "system restore".

    Why not try creating a "Wallpaper 1280 X 1024" folder, targeting the desktop tab to it just to see what happens. It may or may not help, but you won't do as much damage as flying into the registry.
    It actually easier to create 10 new folders than to type one long- winded reply such as this one.
    In my somewhat simplistic, backward way of working with photos, it seem easier to go with the flow than fly into the registry.

    I store all my photos on a separate physical hard drive, and have never seen what you're describing. The desktop points to the folder I choose and that's that.

    I realize it's not the simple and elegant solution you're expecting, but, if it's what you suggest is wrong it does seem a bit unreasonable to expect us to memorize the registry contingent on this one peculiarity.

    Do you see where not trying a workaround, while still trying to find the actual cause is self defeating.

    Or, you could just reinstall Windows. Nobody has suggested that, (I don't think), so it's not mindless repitition.
  19. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    For the Display Properties Background tab, Windows XP fetches the image files from the following locations:

    BMP Files from %Systemroot% folder.

    BMP, JPG, GIF, JPE, DIB, PNG, HTM files from the following locations:

    %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\My Pictures (& sub-folders)
    %AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer
    %ProgramFiles%\Plus!\Themes (& sub-folders)


    WorkAround for default Web folder ONLY

    Create a new folder and point the registry file to it

    ie Create a sub-folder called "MyPics" under the default background folder
    Now copy a few pictures to the new folder "MyPics"

    Go to Start-->Run-->RegEdit
    Navigate to:
    Double-click the “WallpaperDir” and type in the Value Data: %SystemRoot%\Web\Wallpaper\MyPics

    Go to Control Panel->Display->Desktop-> Background window
    You should not see your %SystemRoot%\Web\Wallpaper pictures any more.


    Note: To change the default locations ie MyPictures
    I believe (but not positive) you must edit the string value in Explorer.exe system file, but you may also remove My Pictures from opening completely. So it's not advised.

    If anyone would like to play with their system files, trying to locate where the default background folders exist, make sure to backup first
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,029   +2,558

    Ok Kimsland, this works I guess (Not brave enough to try), plus I don't have the problem, so no point either.

    But, my system allows me to point the Desktop tab to whichever folder I choose, AND, it doesn't include the entire "My Pictures" folder into the wallpaper list. The only choices I'm given are the standard wallpapers that came with the OS and the current background which is in a different folder/ drive altogether. None of the pictures from "My Pictures" are included whatsoever.
    If, I "OK" the background, I'm good. If I "apply" the background, then the trouble begins. If I click "apply" then the OS retargets the folder. (Not what I want).
    So, the obvious question is ( in timwest16's case), did the registry change, and from what?

    The tab in "My Pictures" (under "Picture Tasks") that allows you to "set as desktop background", is applying the whole folder ( ! ) or (? ) as the case may be.
  21. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Please go to MSpaint
    Draw some scribble (ie kims the best !)
    Save it to MyPictures with filename 111 (keep the bmp suffix) ie 111.bmp

    Go to Desktop backgrounds window (in Display settings)
    You should see 111 picture

    Therefore, the MyPictures shortcut to Desktop Background is still happening

    The 111.bmp pic, can be kept for those sad days :)
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,029   +2,558

    Captains Not-So-Courageous............

    I'm using Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 at the moment, with extended functionality due to many plugins , and using a 250GB WD "Caviar" SATA2 as volume storage for my photo collection.
    When I prepare a photo as wallpaper, I optimize color sat. & balance, gamut, contrast/brightness, along with aspect ratio and resolution, plus a variety of special effects such a frames, noise, blur, bevel, and drop shadow.
    Thusly, I fear M$ paint may be a trifle too sophisticated an application for me to tackle.

    While, I am certain that I "kim" bitmap would go a long way to cheer me on one of those dark days, sadly I am from a bad neighborhood, and as you know, I may have latent sociopathic tendencies, or at the very least an anti-social personality disorder.
    So. as I 'm sitting here listening to the sound of gunfire in the distance on some lonely Saturday night, I'm thinking a "Smilie" with a gunshot wound right between the eyes might bring a chuckle or three. I could use it as a desktop shortcut to the "My Pictures" folder.:haha:
  23. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    I've changed my mind, please delete the picture !

    I have butterflies and flowers around me, as that the same as gunfire ! :haha:
  24. pacific-guy

    pacific-guy TS Rookie


    Hi everyone,

    It wasn't until today I detected I had the same problem in which Desktop Display Properties listed all pictures from the original My Pictures folder and subfolders. I will show you how I solved this problem.

    To get rid of this problem:

    1. Go to Start > Search, do a file search for "My Pictures" (quotation marks omitted)
    2. Under search results, look for folders called My Pictures in locations other than original My Documents folders
    3. Delete My Pictures folders not listed in any original My Documents folders

    Here's how it happened to me. Last week, I downloaded a picture while in sandboxed mode, which caused Sandbox to create another My Pictures folder located at C:\Documents and Settings\*user profile*\Application Data\Sandbox\DefaultBox\user\current\My Documents\My Pictures. This began the whole problem, it seems.

    I know there is a concrete correlation because I deliberately did immediate before-and-after comparsions. As soon as I removed that sandboxed My Pictures folder, which had confused the system, the Desktop Display Properties list returned to normal.
  25. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,179   +7

    Like hell i will

    I have a folder "My Pictures) of personal pictures on my D Drive.They do not duplicate the ones in Desktop/My Documents/My Pictures.
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