How-To Geek

How to Rotate Wallpaper in Windows for a More Interesting Desktop

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Replacing our wallpaper can be very time consuming, especially for people like me who like to change it on an hourly basis. Luckily Windows 7 comes with a wallpaper customization feature that automates this task for us.

In this article we will show you how to use Windows 7 and a desktop wallpaper changing software to cure severe boring wallpaper syndrome on our desktop.

Photo by badjoni

Using Windows 7 RSS Backgrounds

Windows 7 comes with a desktop personalization feature to rotate our wallpaper with images from an RSS Feed or a set of images that we can access from the ‘Personalization’ menu in our desktop.

We can choose any of the available themes or create our own personalized theme. Try selecting a theme, like the ‘Characters’ theme for example.

If you don’t like the windows color that comes with that theme we can change it using the available window colors in Windows 7.

Try each of the colors and save the new theme once you are satisfied with the color that you choose.

Windows 7 will save these customize themes as ‘Unsaved Themes’ under My Themes.

We need to save the ‘Unsave Theme’ if we want to keep it so right-click it and choose ‘Save Theme’ to save it under your customize themes.

In this example we save our customize theme as ‘Geek Tester Theme’.

Windows 7 will create a theme file under : ‘C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes’ for every custom theme that its user creates.

The theme file itself is a plain text file containing all the information about the theme.

The last section of the theme file contains three attributes, interval, shuffle, and RSS feed address. The interval determines how fast Windows rotate the wallpaper images. The lower the interval is the faster Windows rotate your images. You may risk the theme crashing your system if you make it too fast.

The RSS attribute tells Windows to grab the images from a specific RSS and use it as your wallpaper.

Using John’s Desktop Background Switcher

John’s Conner desktop background switcher software is a desktop application that rotate Windows wallpaper using RSS Feed. We find that his software provides better support for Media Type RSS compared to Windows 7.

The software runs as a background job that sits on your system tray.

The ‘settings’ icon gives you access to the software configuration where we can use custom photos or RSS URL as our wallpaper. In this example we are using our Yahoo Pipe’s URL to display random images from Gnome Look website:

The desktop software is able to manage multiple monitors and shows picture in a different mode such as ‘Polaroid’ mode where it stacks the images together like a photo.

Hacking the Pipe

We have designed our Yahoo Pipe so that our readers will be able to customize it according to their need. Our Yahoo Pipe is able to take different Gnome URLs and extract the images into an RSS feed.

I find some of the best wallpaper from the Highest Rated category in Gnome Look.

I use Yahoo Pipe to create RSS feed from Gnome Look’s highest rated images and use John’s desktop software to display the images as my wallpaper.

The pipe may take a few minutes to extract the images from the web page depending on the number of images on the page.

The pipe will show a list of images that it gathers from Gnome Look URL once it has successfully extracted all the wallpaper images.

Yahoo Pipes gives different options such as ‘My Yahoo’, ‘Google’, ‘JSON’ or ‘RSS Feed’ to use the images. The ‘Get RSS’ button on the top of the list gives us access to the RSS URL that we can use for John’s desktop software.


Here’s some relevant links for wallpaper, and the pipe:

  • Gnome Look Wallpaper Yahoo Pipe
  • Latest Gnome Wallpaper (1280 x 1024)
  • Most Downloaded Wallpaper (Any Size)
  • Highest Rated Wallpaper (1440 x 900)

Zainul spends his time trying to make technology more productive, whether it’s Microsoft Office applications, or learning to use web applications to save time.

  • Published 10/8/10

Comments (7)

  1. Steve

    Hey, I’m not sure where to place this but a piece on the Top homepages would be awesome. I have Igoogle, but am getting bored at the flat graphics and boring gadgets.

  2. Ron John

    Macs have been able to do this for a while :)

  3. John Paul Mays

    Windows 7 already has the ability to rotate wallpaper! What’s the point of downloading another piece of software that you really don’t need?

  4. Jerry

    Change your wallpaper every hour? Lucky you! Must be real nice. Where I work I don’t even have the time to look at the pretty pictures on my screen, let alone a new one every hour. If it isn’t a spreadsheet its an application and so on. BTW I’m at home now so now I do have the time, sort of, well not really, back to work.

  5. mark

    >>Macs have been able to do this for a while<<

    Great, and you only paid $2,000 for the privileged. Congratulations!

  6. Kitty

    I’d love the postcard idea, but I’ve downloaded tons of canyon photos from the web and I’d love to use the feature with those rather than from an RSS feed (which I haven’t been able to figure out yet, anyway). can I use photos stored on my computer? thanks, Kitty

  7. chris bockman

    This looks great for Windows 7, but what about Vista… there a way to do this?

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