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How to disable image compression for desktop wallpapers on Windows 10

If you like to set a picture or another type of JPEG image as your desktop wallpaper on Windows 10, you've probably noticed that the quality of the image in the background isn't the same as the original. This is because, by default, the operating system automatically compresses the JPEG file before setting it as your desktop wallpaper.

Basically, when you set a new JPEG file as your desktop wallpaper, the operating system imports a reduced quality copy of the image into a TranscodedWallpaper file located in the %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes folder. Then instead of using the JPEG, Windows 10 simply loads the image from the TranscodedWallpaper file. Through this quality reduction process, Windows 10 can save a bit of storage, reduce memory usage, and improves the overall system performance when displaying the wallpaper on the screen.

If you happen to have a computer with good performing hardware, it's possible to disable automatic image compression to view JPEG image files in full quality as they appear on your desktop. Especially if you've got a high-quality 4K display that'll bring out all the detail in your original wallpaper.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to disable JPEG image compression for desktop wallpapers on your device using the Registry.

How to disable JPEG image compression for desktop wallpapers

Important: As always, this is a friendly reminder warning you know that editing the registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. It's recommended to make a full backup of your computer before proceeding.

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type regedit, and click OK to open the registry.
  3. Browse the following path:HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  4. On the right side, right-click, select New, and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.

  1. Name the DWORD JPEGImportQuality and press Enter.
  2. Double-click the newly created DWORD, and user Base, select the Decimal option.
  3. Change the DWORD value from 0 to 100.It's important to note that default compression setting on Windows 10 is 85 percent, and if you set the DWORD to 100 will completely disable automatic JPEG image file compression. If you simply want to increase the quality of the image without completely disabling the feature, simply pick another percentage number. For example, 95 instead of 100.

  1. Click OK.
  2. Close the Registry.
  3. Restart your computer to complete the task.

Once your computer restarts, you should now see a desktop background image without compression.

If you want revert the changes, simply right-click the DWORD JPEGImportQuality on HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, select Delete, and click Yes to confirm the deletion.

Keep in mind that automatic compression only occurs for JPEG image files, if you're using PNG images, you don't need to change the settings because Windows 10 doesn't compress PNG files when you set them as desktop wallpapers.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

17 Comments
  • This is why I prefer windows 7 over windows 10.There are too many hidden settings you need to tweak.
  • I would rather say that there's too many settings you don't know to tweak. I didn't even realize this 'setting' (if you have to change it in registry, it's not really a setting) existed. There do seem to be some harmful simplifications in 10 that I hope deteriorate over time.
  • Fairly certain Windows 7 does this too, it's not a new "setting".
  • There were just as many setting to tweak on Windows 7. That is one of the reasons tweakui was quite popular.
  • That's a pretty unfair statement. This is more of a hack than a hidden setting. Tweaking registry keys is generally not something an end user is supposed to do. It's a great way to jack up your system.
  • Actually Windows has been doing this since Vista iirc.
  • This probably has been around for ages. Even if it hasn't, Win7 isn't coming back. It's the XP of 2017. A great OS, finally retired in favor of a newer, more flexible and efficient OS.
  • WTF! Do you think windows 10 is a completely new system? The options are there for years
  • Dude, Windows 7 also does this. This is old behavior.
  • Or you guys can just use PNG, which is lossless, although it'll probably use up more resources as its compression is not as efficient and requires slightly more processing power to decode. When I use PNG, the TranscodedWallpaper file is also in PNG, so even if Windows transcoded it from the original PNG, its still lossless.
  • Didn't read the article eh? The last paragraph covers this.
  •  I did read the article to the end. That last paragraph does not mention that PNG will use up even more resources, which is why I put up this comment. That paragraph is also wrong when it mentions that it doesn't compress PNG, because if you compare between the original PNG and the TranscodedWallpaper PNG file, it is clearly retranscoded, instead of just copying and renaming, since the file sizes are different. It might even be smaller, depending on the image, so Windows might have used a more stronger compression setting for its TranscodedWallpaper PNG. I just summarised this part in my comment. While I am at it, let me just say that JPG files are lossy and compressed regardless what setting you use to create/transcode it, therefor this article title is misleading anyway. Even at 100% quality, it is still compressed, therefore you do not disable compression, you are maximizing quality by minimizing the compression strength. PS: I tried being nice.
  • ...and yet you still miss the point. -Last paragraph mentions png files are lossless, which by definition means it takes up more resources. It's like if someone is rich, you don't also have to say they have a big bank account. -Many people know JPEG is a compressed file format, which is why photographers save in the raw format of their camera manufacturer. It's obvious from the article they are implying that by making the changes listed in the article, they are preventing windows from further compressing the image.
  • That's what I've been doing. Sometimes the jpgs look ok, but often they look really bad, with artefacts and are blurred, especially if they have fine details in them
  • Or .tiff format, which is also awesome
  • So how does one go about having the same wallpaper across different devices? I have a 4k desktop and a surface pro 4. In the desktop I have an image that occupies the entire screen. On the Surface Pro 4, it automatically copies over that same wallpaper but...it's a shruken version of the original and doesn't occupy the entire screen.
  • On the Surface, change the 'fit' of the wallpaper image to 'Fill'.