When I go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver, I see many images in folders such as "Desktop Pictures", "Nature", "Plants", etc. Where are these images located?

I want to use them in an application such as SpaceSuit to set them as background images for different spaces.

7 Answers 7


They're in /Library/Desktop Pictures/


As of macOS 12:

  • Desktop JPEG wallpaper are located in /Library/Desktop Pictures
  • Pre-installed dynamic wallpapers (HEIF) are located in /System/Library/Desktop Pictures
  • Any dynamic wallpapers downloaded by the user (from the "Desktop & Screen Saver" preferences) are located in /Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/com.apple.mobileAssetDesktop

As of macOS 10.15 (Catalina) the location is /System/Library/Desktop Pictures. I'm unsure what version the location switched.


Further update for macOS 14.

/Library/Desktop Pictures no longer exists.

These are still valid:

/System/Library/Desktop Pictures
/Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/com.apple.mobileAssetDesktop

The new screen saver/desktop videos are kept in subdirectories for various resolutions and HDR/SDR here:

/Library/Application\ Support/com.apple.idleassetsd/Customer/


For future reference: up to macOS 12, you can get macOS to show you the folder by opening System Preferences > Desktop and screensaver then double clicking the folder name on the left where it says Apple > Wallpapers. It will open the folder on Finder (which is on /System/Library/Desktop Pictures).

I couldn't find a way to get the folder from System Settings on macOS 13 Ventura.


2024 (macOS Sonoma)

The moving wallpapers are located under:

/Library/Application Support/com.apple.idleassetsd/Customer

The normal wallpapers are located under:

/System/Library/Desktop Pictures

Make sure you can see hidden folders. Try ++. (command+shift+dot) to toggle visibility of hidden folders.


The files in /Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/com.apple.mobileAssetDesktop no longer seem to exist.

And, while there are indeed a lot of the moving backgrounds located in /System/Library/Desktop Pictures, as others have pointed out, a lot of the files there (i.e., the ones I was interested in) are .madesktop, which are actually XML files.

I wrote a tool to download those .madesktop files from the xml file located at /System/Library/AssetsV2/com_apple_MobileAsset_DesktopPicture/om_apple_MobileAsset_DesktopPicture.xml based on helpful information from answers on Apple's forums: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/253322672?sortBy=best and after being blocked by Google from downloading the Google Photos album that Mr. Huffman posted there.

The tool is here: https://gitlab.com/theinfinite3/appledesktopwallpaperdownloader/

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