Pull online wallpapers with John’s Background Switcher

johns_background_switcher_icon Wallpapers are most ancient form of computer eye-candy. Popular enough to generate sea of low-quality images where masterpieces are hard to find. If you ever wondered why can’t good wallpaper choose itself and jump from Internet directly to your desktop then John’s Background Switcher is program for you.

What it does

App changes Windows wallpaper and is really good at that.

Display modes

  • stretching and scaling to fit the screen;
  • mosaic with tiny thumbnails;
  • four images per screen;
  • scrapbook with few images styled as scattered photos.

It gets even better with multiply monitors – switcher can display different images on each of them or stretch single image creating panorama.

Online sources

What is modern application without strong online integration? Soon you won’t be able to type Word document without getting few comments and badge for awesome text markup skills. Ahem.


App has excellent integration with online services. After initial setup your wallpapers will just show up by themselves – fresh and gorgeous. Latest version added support for Media RSS format which made it compatible with any site that publishes such feeds. Comes pre-loaded with lolcats , doesn’t get better than that.

Resource footprint

Program uses .NET Framework for sake of development simplicity and compatibility. As result is eats big amount of memory – over ~30Mb when idle. As an alternative to keeping in background there is command line switch /next available that will run app, switch wallpaper and exit. Usable as autorun entry, shortcut, scheduled task, etc.


Switcher is wallpaper mutli-tool. It is seriously most functional (and still freeware) app of this type . Personally I’d like something light and portable so I could easily drop it on computers with all settings in place and I expressed this opinion few version ago to developer. App didn’t really shape into something like that, not bad just different.

Media RSS support is awesome (everything RSS is awesome) but I’d like it could hack into regular feeds as well. Not as accessible as current option but I got addicted used to parsing RSS lately, just look at sidebar and footer. :)

PS no Interfacelift support :(

Home&download http://www.johnsadventures.com/software/backgroundswitcher/

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  • John Conners #

    Cheers for the write-up! :) I liked the idea of being able to drop JBS onto a machine pre-configured but some design decisions I made early on meant that it would be a bit of a nightmare to get it to work that way (that'll teach me to follow Microsoft Windows design guidelines!). I still often think about writing a lightweight C++, non-.NET version and if I ever get enough time... I'm planning on widening the RSS support in the next version to handle more non-mediaRSS feeds, I just wanted to get a version out that worked in the best case that I could subsequently improve. Interestingly another JBS user actually asked Interfacelift a while back if they'd support mediaRSS (which would be an easy change for them) but apparently they said no. Grrrr!
  • Rarst #

    Hi, John! I now have a blog so my contribution can be bit bigger than whining about feature requests in email. :) Hope you'll get to that C++ version, or I'll have to code one myself some day. Learning C++ at moment, not too good at it. My daily language of choice is AutoIt. Well, it took years for RSS adoption and it is still toy for techies. Adoption for extension is naturally even slower. I actually looked at Interfacelift feed today and have some ideas boiling about transformation hack into something more suitable for parsing. Maybe I'll make an effort and try to write converter into MediaRSS for it.
  • John Conners #

    Ha ha, whining over email is fine with me! C++ is a tough language - I spent many years as a C++ developer and could never pretend to have mastered it, few people have! Yeah, I've been tempted to set up a feed transformer for things like Google image search results (there's no simple RSS feed for them like there is in Google blog search for example). If you do write an Interfacelift converter let me know!