Windows compressing your high quality desktop backgrounds? Try these fixes

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 7, 2013
Updated • Jul 7, 2013

If you like to set high quality wallpapers as background images on your desktop you may have noticed that Windows compresses the pictures automatically when you do. What the operating system does is compress the image, likely to save space so that the system loads faster after sign in.

Most Windows users may not even notice that Windows is doing so, as it depends highly on the selected wallpaper image and operating system used. The compression is used in all operating systems starting with Windows Vista, but the way it is implemented has changed significantly with each system.

There is no switch to turn the feature off in Windows, but there are a couple of workarounds that you can try to avoid that your wallpaper images get compressed in the process.

Take a look at the following two screenshots. They show the same picture set as the background in Windows 8. The first shows clear signs of artifacts, while the second does not.

no artifacts

I have used the same source image both times, so why the quality discrepancy? The first image was set directly from Internet Explorer 10 with a right-click on the image and the selection of "Set as background" from the browser's context menu. The second was saved first to the computer, and then set as the background from Windows Explorer.

The images have not been modified in any way or form prior to this.


1. Save to desktop first

Instead of using the browser's set as background option, try to save the picture to the local PC first. Use the default file manager to set it as the background, or the personalize screen. This resolved the issue on the Windows 8 PC that I tested various options on.

While this may work at times, it did not work out for all users who encountered the issue.

2. Convert to PNG or BMP

save as png

If your source image is a jpg, try converting it to png or bmp format instead before you set it as your background wallpaper. You may need to experiment with various ways to set it as your system's wallpaper though. Some users reported that you need to load it in Firefox or another browser (the local converted image), to set it as the background image without compression.

You can use Paint or any other image editor to convert the jpg image to png or bmp. Just right-click it and select Edit. In the image editor use the Save As option to save

3. Replace the compressed wallpaper

Windows saves the compressed wallpaper image that it creates in the C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes folder on the system. It is stored as TranscodedWallpaper in the folder.

  1. Rename TranscodedWallpaper to TranscodedWallpaper_old
  2. Rename the original image that you want to use as your background image to TranscodedWallpaper.
  3. Make sure you remove the file extension of the picture.
  4. Move it into the theme folder.
  5. Right-click on the desktop afterwards and select refresh from the context menu.

4. Make sure the resolution fits exactly

You best use an image that has the exact same resolution as the screen resolution of the connected monitor. What you can try as well is to set the DPI setting to 72.009 dpi and 8bit.

You can use programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Irfanview or XnView for that.

Closing Words

Some images are not affected by the compression regardless of their original format, while others seem to be compressed no matter what you try. It may take quite some testing and trying out before you find a solution that works for the images that you want to set as your wallpaper on your system.

Have you encountered the issue before? If so, did you manage to resolve it?


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.