Wallpaper Happiness in Windows 7

Applies To: Windows 7

This is not the usual technical article, but I wanted to share something I’ve done that makes my day a little better. I’ve taken a bunch of relaxing or neat wallpaper photos and using Windows 7 I’ve set them up to automatically change every minute. This is super easy to do and takes just a few minutes, so… Get on it!

The best way to get some good looking photos is to use a Windows 7 Theme. To get these, just right-click on your desktop and choose Personalize. This will open the Personalization Control Panel:

Then click the Get more themes online link in the control panel:

This will open the Windows 7 Themes gallery site in your browser. Look through the themes and pick one to start with. For me, some of the best were in the RSS dynamic themes category. Terra Dynamic is a good one to start with. Click Download and then choose Open:

This will launch the Personalization control panel and install the theme. If it is one of the RSS dynamic themes you will be prompted to download the attachments, choose to download them:

It may take a few minutes, depending on the theme, to finish downloading all the images. To get at them, click on the Desktop Background button at the bottom of the Control Panel. Then to find the location of these images, right-click on the path above the thumbnails. This may cause a Windows Security warning depending on your settings. If it does, choose OK:

In the Context Menu, choose Properties:

In the properties dialog select the full path in the Location section (Leave out the All in text) and right-click and choose Copy:

Then open a folder and paste the copied path into the path url box and press enter:

This will open the folder with all of the images. Select all the images and copy them to some folder in your My Documents or elsewhere. Then repeat the above process for as many themes as you want.

Dynamic themes (RSS) will store their images in the same location (they’ll just have a different GUID – ugly number in brackets), so you can just leave that folder open. Standard themes will save their images to C:\Users\[Your User Name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes and will have a folder that matches the theme name. In those folders will be a folder of images you can copy from.

To uninstall the theme, just delete it’s folder from the themes folder.

Once you’ve assembled a ton of images from all sorts of themes in a single folder, briefly go through them and get rid of any that doesn’t immediately appeal to you. I have around 250 images in my folder. Open the Personalization Control Panel again. Pick any theme (preferably one with sounds you like) and click the Desktop Background button.

Click the Browse button next to the Picture location dropdown and choose your folder. Choose Fill for the Picture Position and set the “Change picture every” to something you like (mine is 1 minute). I also picked Shuffle so that it would pick a random order each time. When you are satisfied, click Save changes.

That’s it! You now have a beautiful new image to look at every minute or so as you are working! The good news is since this is your folder, you can drop images from anywhere in there and they will automatically get added to the rotation.

As you watch them change you can pretend you live in the photo or are at least visiting instead of sitting in a dark cubicle slowly developing diabetes and heart disease! When your boss tells you that your number one priority is a list of like 5 things that are all “equally important” because he/she doesn’t understand priority or your coworker sprays perfume on his feet because they smell so bad, you can just stare at the picture of some field somewhere and put off the madness for one more day.

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