Wallpaper is an ever fascinating topic for me. Earlier this year I wrote an in depth article on pimping wallpapers and we’re constantly adding new desktop wallpaper resources to the Make Use Of directory. Today I have a very cool tool for you.
John’s Background Switcher is different from all previously mentioned applications, because not only can it load images from a predefined folder on your machine, it can also load them from online sources such as Flickr, Picasa and Yahoo. Let’s take a look at how to set it up to work with Flickr.
Click Flickr in the Current mode menu on the left. Within “General Options” you can select how often your wallpaper shall change and how it will spread across multiple monitors.
The interesting part is “Photo Sets”. You can add as many sets as you like. In my example above I added two and to the left you see what the “Add / Edit” window looks like.
The photos can be chosen by everybody, a group pool, a specific person, your own Flickr photos or from a specific time frame, such as the past 7 days.
Further down you can set even more details, such as choosing images from the top 50, and if you fancy specific items, make the program choose from photos that match custom tags or a search text.
In “Photo Options” you define how the wallpapers will be scaled and arranged on your desktop. The coolest option in my opinion is the “Create a snapshot scrapbook” as depicted in the screenshot below. The program did that all by itself, I totally adore it!
And we’re not done, yet. Of course you can use all sources, meaning you can set up single pictures, folders, Flickr, phanfare, SmugMug, Picasa, and Yahoo. However, you can not use them simultaneously. Background Switcher will only run the mode you last looked at. Thus, if you want to switch from Flickr to say Picasa, you have to open the program settings and click on Picasa in Current mode.
When you look at the bottom left of the main window, you’ll see a button called “More Settings”. This is where you can really take control over what the software will do to your desktop. If you want to give your system a break on startup, define a time frame until the wallpaper is switched for the first time. In the Switching tab, programs can be added that will make Background Switcher pause while they’re running. Also, a custom command can be run after switching. I’m not sure what this could be good for, but an interesting feature nevertheless. “Import / Export” allows you to easily transfer Background Switcher program settings from one computer to another.
To manually change the wallpaper you can double click the tray icon anytime. The blue arrows will turn green while Background Switcher updates its images. Finally, right-clicking on the tray icon launches a small menu with several options, like returning to the previous background, clear the background or pause the program.
Overall, this must be the best free wallpaper switcher using online image sources out there. In fact, it’s the only free one I have ever seen. You have to keep in mind though, that for example creating a snapshot scrapbook will have some impact on your bandwidth while the program is downloading the images. Within processes, Background Switcher eats up around 41K, which is around twice as much as Explorer and half of what Thunderbird requires (on my system). So, it’s not easy on your system resources, but aren’t most cool tools?
What do you think? As always we welcome all feedback!
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