The desktop wallpaper on your Mac is something that you may not pay a great deal of attention to. If so, you might be missing out on a great way to create a personal look and feel for your computer, revel in stunning photography, or even […]

Mac WallpapersThe desktop wallpaper on your Mac is something that you may not pay a great deal of attention to. If so, you might be missing out on a great way to create a personal look and feel for your computer, revel in stunning photography, or even re-create the feeling of being somewhere thousands of miles away from your desk.

In this post on customizing your Mac I’ll be looking at a some sources of beautiful wallpaper, investigating a few of the effects and features pre-built into OS X, and showcasing two pieces of software for revolutionizing your desktop.

Sources of Beautiful Wallpaper

The internet is littered with websites offering ‘free wallpaper’ for your computer. Unfortunately the majority of such sites are fairly dire. The following collection of sites stand head and shoulders above the rest and, while I’m bound to miss a few, provide a great starting point for inspiration. In no particular order:

Wallpaper Support in OS X

Built into OS X is a well rounded range of wallpaper settings. The included backgrounds are well designed, in the categories of Nature, Plants, Black & White, Abstract etc — they make an excellent starting collection of wallpapers. The ‘Change picture every X minutes’ setting makes it easy to have a regularly updated background and keeps your Mac looking fresh. This can be done at a set interval, every time your computer wakes from sleep, or when you log in. Once you have built up a collection you’re proud of from the aforemetioned sources, turning this option on can be a great way to remember older wallpapers you’d forgotten about.

Wallpaper Applications

Serene Saver – This creates a cross between a regular wallpaper and a screen saver, providing some animation on your desktop. Over 30 different video animations are bundled with the application, and it is built to ensure that strain is not placed on performance. At $50 it is a very expensive way to customize your desktop, but has a trial available to let you decide whether it suits you.

Backlight – A free application which sits in your menu bar, allowing you to run any screen saver as a desktop background. This opens up a wide range of possibilities, as you aren’t limited to in-built effects (any screensaver can be used). Transparency can be altered to allow your normal background image to show through. This reduces the impact of the effect, making it more subtle and usable. This is a screenshot of my ‘Flurry’ desktop:

Share Your Sources

I’d love to hear where you go for wallpaper inspiration, or if you use any other interesting applications for beautifying your desktop. Please share!

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  1. Personal plug: http://www.fiftyfootshadows.net has a lot of photographic desktops and is updated often. Its been around for years as I used to publish under the now defunct twistedsun.net… I always feel weird plugging my own site like this but thought I would poke my head in for the cause :)

  2. There is a widget that works like Backliht. Its name : WallSaver . Available on Apple.com I think ^^

  3. I was recently using Desktoptopia for my backgrounds. Worked really well.


  4. My favourite is the desktop wallpaper project presented by Kitsune Nor=ir:


  5. My personal fave. Each day a new hi-resolution image from around the world from National Geographic.


  6. I second Desktoptopia–great little app (sits in your system preferences).

  7. Vlad Gerasimov Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Hey, thanks for mentioning my website, vladstudio! I thought I should also mention the free Wallpaper Clock application – it uses a special desktop wallpaper format which refreshes every minute to keep your time and date precise as well as stylish in many artistic ways!
    Check it out at http://www.vladstudio.com/wallpaperclock/ – thanks!

  8. I tend to get all my desktop pics from http://interfacelift.com/

    It’s always good to try apps like Serene Saver & Backlight, but they are a little distracting to use all the time, plus I’d be concerned with how much system resources they are using.

  9. http://www.deviantart.com
    Google Image search when I am looking for something specific.
    Oh yea and Photoshop when I am in a DYI mood.

  10. Phillip Howell Monday, November 24, 2008

    So, this may be a stupid question, but I haven’t been able to find any information about it in the interface or through limited googling:

    When using Spaces, is there a way to set a different desktop image per-space, either natively or with an application?

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