Whenever you set your desktop’s background image, Windows stores a thumbnail of that image in the background history. This is where you will see the last five images that were used as a background, even if you accidentally clicked on the wrong image while browsing. With a few simple Registry edits, you can remove one or all of them and start from a clean state.

Clear Recently Used Background Images by Editing the Registry Manually

If you’ve accidentally added an image as a background and want to get rid of it, you can’t simply right-click the image and delete it. Sure, you could add five more different images, but using this Registry edit is a lot easier to do.

Standard Warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack, and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

Open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open the Registry Editor and then give it permission to make changes to your PC.

In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key (or copy and paste it into the Registry Editor address bar):

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Wallpapers

After opening the Wallpapers key, you’ll see a bunch of values on the right side. The only ones we’re interested have names starting withBackgroundHistoryPath, followed by the numbers 0-4. These values indicate where to find the last five images used for your background.

Now, depending on which image(s) you want to delete you can delete one or all of them here by right-clicking a value—0 being the first image and 4 being the fifth—and then choosing “Delete” from the context menu. You can also delete multiple images at once like we’re doing in our example. After deleting them, Windows will prompt you to confirm that you want to make changes to your Registry.

Whenever you delete anything from the history, Windows automatically rebuilds these values again and populates them with its default wallpapers.

When you’re done, you can close Registry Editor. You’ll need to close the Settings app if you had it open in order for the history to refresh. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to sign out and sign back into Windows (or just restart Windows Explorer) for the changes to take effect.

Download Our One-Click Registry Hack

If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created a registry hack you can use. Just download and extract the following ZIP file:

Remove Background History Images

Inside you’ll find one file that will remove the values BackgroundHistoryPath0-4 from the Wallpapers key in the Registry, deleting all your background history thumbnails. Once it’s extracted, double-click the file, and accept the prompts asking whether you’re sure you want to make changes to your Registry.

These hacks are really just removing theBackgroundHistoryPath values we talked about in the previous section, and then exported to a .REG file. Running the hacks just modifies the value in your Registry. And if you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

RELATED: How to Make Your Own Windows Registry Hacks

Brady Gavin Brady Gavin
Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He's covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC.  
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