Windows 10 Desktop Background Slideshow Not Seeing Subfolders

The new Settings interface in Windows 10 doesn’t allow selecting multiple files at once as the desktop slideshow. You can only select one folder at a time. Also, the images in the subfolders are not utilized for the slideshow.

As a workaround, people used the old Desktop background Control Panel interface by running one of these commands from the Run dialog:

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,,@desktop
control /name Microsoft.Personalization /page pageWallpaper

Since the Windows 10 Creators Update, those two commands will no longer launch the classic Control Panel applet. To make desktop background slideshow see the images in subfolders, follow one of these methods.

Method 1: Launch Old Background Control Panel UI using Shell: command

First, add the folder(s) containing images to the Pictures Library, and then follow these steps to configure the desktop slideshow using the old Control Panel interface.

For example, I have a folder named Camera which contains two subfolders, namely 2016 and 2017. The images are stored only in those subfolders. I added Camera to the Pictures Library.

Even on Windows 10 version 21H2, the old Control Panel interface is still functional to set up a slideshow. To launch it, right-click Start, click Run, and type:

shell:::{ED834ED6-4B5A-4bfe-8F11-A626DCB6A921} -Microsoft.Personalization\pageWallpaper

Click OK.

desktop slideshow - set as desktop background - old control panel interface

Select Pictures Library, and select multiple pictures from the list.

Quick Tips: You can use the Check all or Clear all option to select or deselect all files, and then enable/disable the checkbox of individual files manually. Alternately, you can click an area and drag the mouse pointer (create a selection rectangle) to multi-select files without having to click on each file.

Method 2: List all images Using Search and Set as Desktop Background

Open the parent folder that has the subfolders containing images.

Click on the search box, and type the following search query:


With the “All subfolders” ribbon button selected (by default), Windows Search will list all image files from the parent folder as well as sub-folders.

Select all or required image files from the search results, right-click and select Set as desktop background.

desktop slideshow - set as desktop background - search

If you open Settings → Personalize → Background, you’ll see your search query in the list.

desktop slideshow - personalize settings

That’s it! Desktop slideshow is now configured to use images from multiple folders and sub-folders.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded in 2005.

30 thoughts on “Windows 10 Desktop Background Slideshow Not Seeing Subfolders”

  1. Does not allow selecting multiple folders as of 4/3/18. Today I restarted my laptop for the 1st time in a few days, and the desktop slideshow no longer accesses subfolders. It worked ok before the restart.

  2. I love the internet, sometimes.

    Thank you, Ramesh. I don’t know why Windows does stupid things like this. Who is going to say, “Thank goodness I can no longer access subfolders!” I mean really, what employee decides that’s a good idea?

    But you saved me. I was getting so sick of the same 5 pix.

    Thanks for taking the time to figure this out and post it.

  3. Tested out method 2 as of Sep 12 2018, it works with one caveat. It doesn’t live update. Meaning if you add new images to those folders, they won’t automatically cycle in to your images used. You have to re-do the kind:=image search process to update with new photos.

  4. Me again.

    I have found a slight workaround to my complaint of method 2, IN METHOD 1! So basically do method 2 to set all current images as backgrounds. But now if you ever want to update them with new images you’ve saved, use the run command from method 1. Doing so will show your same search query, but updated with new images, and they are already checkboxed for you, so you just hit save and Voila, it’s updated with new images.

    So basically, to update, just use the Run Command from method 1, then hit save. That’s it! Just do that periodically to keep your images up to date!

    • @Ramesh Srinivasan: Please make this comment quotes your comment are included in your there article because this additional tips was very helpful for me and other people

      @George: Try making the shortcut for this target:

      explorer shell:::{ED834ED6-4B5A-4bfe-8F11-A626DCB6A921} -Microsoft.Personalization\pageWallpaper

  5. Is it possible to make a desktop shortcut out of method one? There dosen’t seem to be a simple method to do so. You can only execute this command in a run dialogue?

  6. Thank you!! This is so helpful! I knew something was wrong after I’ve never seen wallpapers from subfolders on my desktop! This has worked flawlessly, but I still can’t get over why Microsoft wouldn’t just include this option in the new wallpaper selector? If only we could do this with the slideshow on the lockscreen now… come on MS, I hope you’re listening.

    • And as of Nov 28, after installing Windows update 1909, method 2 no longer works for me. No search results for KIND:=PICTURE. I tried PHOTO, IMAGE, and JPG too; no go.

  7. FANTASTIC! that simple a fix for another annoying, pointless microsoft “improvement” — i think they’re going to force me to switch to apple. anyway: THANK YOU!

  8. Microsoft, oh, Microsoft, how we despair of your well-worn dysfunction and regressions.
    This is a great little hack and I thank you most warmly for it.

  9. are there tips are permanent result ( automatically create desktop background control panel short cut ) or need create a short cut manually

    please for tell me

  10. Method 2 works with the following caveat. I’m on v20H2 (OS Build 19042.804). Make sure you have slideshow selected using the control panel method. I also had the main folder I wanted to be used with pictures only in sub-folders. Then I used *.jpg in the search field in File Explorer. It was a quick and painless transition.

  11. I put all the images I wanted in slideshow in a folder and then just selected that folder and then when using the select folder button there were no images showing but they all ended up in the slideshow as intended.

  12. Apparently it is still related to the language and or the Windows 10 build version.
    But if kind:=picture does not work for you, then try it with art:=picture

    Thanks again to the author for the great post.

  13. I am super grateful for this post. I overdo subfolders and the workaround (#2 was very easy for me) lets me enjoy all our old family photos.


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