Show the Location Path of Current Wallpaper in Mac OS X

Nov 20, 2011 - 12 Comments

Show current wallpaper location on the Mac OS X desktop

Ever set a desktop background picture on the Mac and have no idea where the original wallpaper image is stored in OS X? Maybe you set an image from the web and lost it, or maybe you’ve wondered where that default background image is stored so you can share it with your iOS device or another Mac? Me too, and there’s a way to quickly find the original file location of what is set as the desktop wallpaper on a Mac.

By using a defaults write debug command, you can display the full path to the currently active desktop image, directly printed on the wallpaper itself.

Here’s how to show the file path to the currently active wallpaper in Mac OS X:

  1. Launch Terminal in /Applications/Utilities/
  2. Type the following defaults write command:
  3. defaults write desktop-picture-show-debug-text -bool TRUE;killall Dock

  4. Go to the desktop to see the path printed over the wallpaper images

Reveal the wallpaper path on Mac OS X Desktop image

After you’ve retrieved the desktop picture (use Command+Shift+G to bring up the Go To Folder window), or done what you have needed to do, you can hide the path text by using the following command:

defaults delete desktop-picture-show-debug-text;killall Dock

In OS X Yosemite (10.10.x) and newer, you can use the following syntax to hide the path again:

defaults write desktop-picture-show-debug-text -bool FALSE;killall Dock

Both of these commands automatically kill/refresh the Dock as well. If you’re not fond of the command line, you can find the path information in a hidden debug mode for Desktop System Preferences too.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Mira says:

    So you find one and you find them all, /Library/Desktop Pictures/

    • Brent says:

      Could be in Documents folder or somewhere else on the hard drive, that is the whole point. If it was always in the same place, why would you need to look anywhere else?

  2. noneno says:

    so this looks good… but i have a question… can this command be used to write something else (any text y want) in the desktop?
    thanks for the help…

  3. JR says:

    The path appears, but when you do the kill command, it doesn’t work. Even when you shut down… path is still there.

    • JQ says:

      I copied and pasted the kill command he listed above and it apparently worked:
      defaults delete desktop-picture-show-debug-text;killall Dock

  4. Bob says:

    thank you SO much! When I migrated my files from my old macbook to my new macbook air, this somehow got turned on by default and I had NO idea how to get rid of it!!

  5. Jim says:

    Hi- doesn’t work under 10.10.3.

    The command:

    defaults delete desktop-picture-show-debug-text;killall Dock

    returns: “Domain ( not found.”

    • pablo says:

      Refresh your cache, the command to disable this for OS X 10.10.x and newer is:

      defaults write desktop-picture-show-debug-text -bool FALSE;killall Dock

  6. Bumby Hemingway says:

    Hello! Does anyone happen to know how to get the file path to appear not in the middle but rather at the bottom of the desktop wallpaper? I’ve got many classic paintings on shuffle as backgrounds, but I can never remember their painters or titles and I’d like to keep that info on the screen as a memory aid. Obviously having the text appear in the middle of the image ruins it aesthetically; I imagine at the bottom would be a less intrusive compromise.

    Thank you in advance if anyone can help with this.

  7. Quinn says:

    I followed these instructions and my desktop picture reverted back to the default yosemite background. Now my previous background seems lost for good. Pretty upset about this

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