Image: Microsoft

One of the most commonly used personalization features in Microsoft Windows 10 is the ability to change the background images on the lock screen and the desktop. Whether it’s a photo of their family or pet, or a quote from their favorite author, people generally opt to change the default Microsoft-provided image to something with more personal significance. It has been this way since background images were first installed as a feature.

With recent versions of Windows 10, Microsoft has added a slight twist to the lock screen background choices with a feature called Spotlight. Used as intended, Windows 10 Spotlight displays a different high-quality photo on the lock screen every day based on the feedback it receives from the user. There is no simple way to change the configuration settings for Windows 10 Spotlight or to adjust what preferences the system has gleaned from previous feedback. Some advanced techniques are required.

This tutorial shows you how to change the default configuration settings for the Windows 10 Spotlight system located on the Windows 10 lock screen.

SEE: Windows 10 apps: Which should you keep and which should you dump? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)Change Windows 10 Spotlight lock screen settings

How to change Windows 10 Spotlight lock screen settings

Figure A shows you what a typical Windows 10 Spotlight image looks like on the lock screen. A user may ask for more information on the image, provide some simple feedback, and get the latest news from Bing (upper left corner).

Figure A

Figure A

Notice in Figure A that there is no provision to log in to Windows 10. To get there, you have to either provide feedback or click on the image in a spot with no link attached. The feedback you may provide is limited to a simple “Yes, l like it” or a “No, I don’t like it.” That simple feedback, built up over time, will determine what image you will see next.

In a nutshell, that is how the Windows 10 Spotlight feature works; however, for unexplained reasons, changing that behavior requires more work than it should.

Windows 10 Spotlight can be turned off by navigating to Personalization settings. Click the Start button, then click the Systems icon. On the Systems screen, select the Personalization item from the list, and then click the Lock Screen item in the left-hand navigation bar to reach the screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B

Change the background setting from Windows 10 Spotlight to a static picture of your own choosing or a set of images located in a folder for a slideshow. This will eliminate Windows 10 Spotlight from the lock screen, along with the need to change configuration settings.
If you would like to keep Windows 10 Spotlight, but change the way it behaves, you will have to employ some more advanced techniques.

Unfortunately, for Windows 10 Home users, the ability to change configuration settings for the Windows 10 Spotlight is limited. It is possible to reset the feedback setting to False so you can start with fresh feedback, but it involves an edit of the Windows Registry file. The process is more complicated than usual, so the small benefits derived from the edit may not be worth the time or the risk.

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows Registry file is a serious undertaking. A corrupted Windows Registry file could render your computer inoperable, requiring a reinstallation of the Windows 10 operating system and potential loss of data. Back up the Windows 10 Registry file and create a valid restore point before you proceed.

Type “regedit” into the desktop search box and select the regedit application. Navigate to this key:

ComputerHKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionLock ScreenCreative

Double-click the CreativeJson entry in the right-hand window and edit the value (Figure C). The value string is extremely long, but you want to find and change the phrase feedbackProvided from “true” to “false.” You may want to copy the Data value string into Notepad, do your editing there, and then paste the text back into the Data value box.

Figure C

Figure C

When complete, click OK and then exit the regedit app.

It may take a few hours before you start to see an impact, but you should see a difference in what images you receive based on your new feedback.

For Windows Enterprise, Education, and Pro users, system admins and users with admin rights may use the Group Policy Editor to change Windows 10 Spotlight settings.

In Windows 10 Pro, type “group policy editor” into the desktop search box and select the Group Policy Editor application.

Navigate to this settings section:
User ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsCloud Content

As you can see in Figure D, there are several configuration settings located in this section.

Figure D

Figure D

Personally, I do not want Microsoft suggesting third-party content in the Windows 10 Spotlight, so we will edit that setting as an example.

Double-click the setting with the label Do Not Suggest Third-Party In Windows Spotlight.” Click the Enabled Radio button (Figure E), and then click Apply and OK.

Figure E

Figure E

Close out the Group Policy Editor to complete the process.

The process required to change other settings for the Windows 10 Spotlight is similar. Just remember, the system will modify what images you see based on your feedback, so be careful what you like and dislike.

Also note that changing your Personalization settings to a static image or slideshow for a period of time will not reset your feedback settings for the Windows 10 Spotlight. Your feedback is stored in the cloud and remains no matter what background image or setting you use for your lock screen.