Windows 10 lets you customize the look of the lock screen with personalized pictures within the Settings app. It also remembers the last five images you used. If you don’t like any of the default images in the history—or want a fresh start—you can remove them from the suggested images.
Your lock screen history in the Settings app shows five images that Windows picks randomly from a hidden folder on your system. These images include any that you’ve previously used as a lock screen background.
By default, Windows shows the five most recently used images, so you could add new images to push out old ones from the suggestions. The trouble is that those images still exist in the folder of lock screen images and sometimes Windows will get mixed up and not just show the most recent images.
There is a way to remove these images. You will have to jump through a couple of hoops, though.
The first hoop involves finding the right folder. Windows stores all these images in the following location:
The User_Account_Security_Identifier part of that path is different for everyone. Each user account on the computer has a different Security Identifier (SID). To find yours, fire up the Command Prompt or PowerShell and type the following command at the prompt:
Note: The SID is much longer than what’s shown in the image above. We’ve masked out most of ours because, well, it’s a security identifier.
Now comes the second hoop through which you’ll need to jump. Once you have the SID, you can navigate to the right folder. However, the System Data folder is protected by Windows. When you try to open it, you’ll see this message.
And if you click the “Continue” button on that message, you’ll get this one next.
To resolve this, you’ll need to take ownership of the System Data folder (and while you’re doing so, make sure you select the option to replace all child object permissions so that you take ownership of the subfolders, too). If you’re not familiar with that process, it’s not hard to do, but there are several steps to the process. Check out our guide to taking ownership of a folder in Windows, take ownership of the System Data folder, and then follow along with the rest of the process here.
Now that you know the folder you want and you’ve taken ownership of the System Data folder; there’s nothing left to stand in your way. Open the folder, and you’ll see a few subfolders inside. Open the one that matches your SID and then open the “ReadOnly” folder inside that.
Now, you should see a bunch of folders whose names start with “LockScreen_” and end with different letters. Each of these folders holds one image in your lock screen history.
Open any folder to check the images inside. Each folder contains four different resolutions of the same image—the original and three thumbnail versions. If the image is one you want to get rid of, Click on any folder to make sure it’s the correct one you want to get rid of.
If the image is one you want to get rid of, back up to the “ReadOnly” folder and delete the folder containing the images you don’t want. If you want to delete all previous lock screen images, go ahead and delete all the “LockScreen_x” folders.
That’s all there is to it. After you delete the images from this folder, they will disappear from the history in the Settings app. You may need to close and re-open Settings for it to refresh. Windows will show only its default images on the Settings page and will create additional folders in that SID folder as you add more lock screen images.
It’s a lot more complicated than it needs to be for such a minor thing, but at least you can do it if you want to.