Shuffle your Desktop Backgrounds in Windows 7

Shuffle your Desktop Backgrounds in Windows 7

  • Comments 48
  • Likes

Windows 7 offers some really neat new personalization options for making your desktop yours. I wanted to share my favorite personalization option: the ability to shuffle desktop backgrounds. Windows 7 now supports selecting multiple pictures as desktop backgrounds which shuffle depending on how often you set it to shuffle.

I have a special folder called “Awesome Wallpapers” that is filled with, well, awesome wallpapers. I have my Windows 7 PCs shuffling between these photos every 10 minutes. I find it keeps my desktop “fresh”.


In the Windows 7 Beta – here’s how to enable shuffle for desktop backgrounds:

1. Right-click on your Desktop and choose Personalization.

2. Under the Personalization Control Panel, choose Desktop Background (bottom of screen).

3. Under Picture location, you can choose from the default locations for photos (including Top Rated Photos) or browse to a custom folder where you might be storing photos.

4. Choose multiple photos by checking each photo you want to appear as a background on your desktop.

5. At the bottom of the screen next to Picture position there is a drop down box and a check box for shuffling pictures on your desktop. Make sure the “Shuffle” checkbox is checked.


6. You can also customize how often pictures shuffle on your desktop via the drop down next to the “Shuffle” check box.

After selecting the backgrounds, enabling shuffle, and setting how often they shuffle – you can save your new “theme” in Windows 7 via the Personalization Control Panel (just click the back button from the Desktop Background screen).


You can see in the below screenshot I have a theme called “Brandon’s Awesome Theme”. Once you save your theme, it appears under “My Themes”.


TIP: You can also download new themes for the Windows 7 Beta by choosing “Get more themes online” under My Themes in the Personalization Control Panel.


You can download themes with new wallpapers from places around the world!

Digg This
You must be logged in to comment. Sign in or Join Now
  • I am not gonna switch to & just because of this stuff!! I use XP and got this feature thanks to AWC!!

  • VirGnarus, it does not change the color of Glass (Windows Aero) when is transitions into new photos - at least not for me. However you can change the color of Glass for a specific set of photos. For example if a user has a bunch of red/orange colored photos they can have the theme set to a reddish Glass color.

  • New Windows 7 betatester. Forgive if I'm necroing this thread, but before I finish installation, I would like to know something particular. The new Desktop Shuffling allows you to shuffle desktops, does it also alter color theme for taskbar, windows, etc., during the cycle? Most people create their desktop by having a specific color theme that compliments the colors in the desktop image, so I'm wondering if this is an option during desktop cycle. Thanks.

  • chris212
    17 Posts

    Microsoft is great I would never say otherwise I love the organization of the start menu and how windows evolves with new features like the sidebar.

  • OK, so it seems as though a *.Themepack is what is downloaded and uncompressed into a *.theme file which is associated with a desktop background file.

    I guess the question is how do you create a *.Themepack ?

    So you can share it with others on your blog or website?

  • OK, found most of the Theme and Desktop locations now, they seem quite spread out physically on the hard disc, I guess that only affects a nerd though who wants to know where these files are located.

    I like the ability to download new Themes like the Llanrwst Theme, seems like most of the downloads are location based, hopefully the selection gets better.

    The only other question is how is a *.Theme or *Themepack structured is it an *.xml file?

  • Finally blasted away my XP partition.

    Windows 7 is great, seems faster than Vista, and the install was pretty quick.

    I would have liked the ability to rename my partition once I deleted it prior to the clean install, other than that looks good.

    The Themes work pretty good, question is where are they created and what is the difference between a *.Theme and *.Themepack file?

  • cynotn
    1 Posts

    If my pc is all work and no play/pleasure then Im not going to want to use it soon. This is a nice unobtrusive feature that makes pc life a little more human.  And I have little time to hunt for pc life's little treasures. Thanks!!

  • Condor
    18 Posts

    Oh, I forgot to write that with the regional settings back to US English any Vista power plan I select works fine. You tell me why power plan and regional settings appear to be coupled...

  • Condor
    18 Posts


    about Windows Experience: since December 2006 up to now I have been plagued by the Vista power plan not working properly, i.e. never switching off the monitor or putting the PC to sleep, while the manual sleep button works perfectly. Today I happened to change regional settings back from UK English to US, both for the non-Unicode stuff and the formats. I had changed this because I am Dutch, I live and work in the Netherlands and my HP 5940 printer would only offer me default paper size A4 when I put Vista in control panel/regional settings/administrative/UK English. I don't know why the power plan should be coupled to locale settings inconsistencies, but this appears to be the case. Oh, and you might say: why don't you use Dutch Windows? Well, I just HATE the way IT terminology has been translated into Dutch, I cannot work with that and also do computer programming, which is always in US English. I not the only one; it is quite easy to get English software from vendors in the Nehterlands

  • 7flavor, thanks for your comments. Specifically - regarding comments here on the site - I apologize for the hassle of sifting through comment pages on posts. We'll look to improve reading comments in the future for the blog.

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    As a loyal Windows customer, can I be rest assured that at RTM, DreamScene and other Ultimate Extras (esp Games) will be updated to work with Windows 7? MS surely will update DreamScene otherwise customizability noobs won't find "value" in upgrading but still I would like an official confirmation. :-)

    Also, the RSS wallpaper feature that was in the early builds would have been a lovely addition.

    P.S: I am ready to do anything to improve the comment reding system here. Why does one page hold so less comments and users have to click Next repeatedly and then scroll down again and again to read all comments.

  • I am now literally minimizing windows just to see what my wallpaper is.

  • djsb
    1 Posts


    Try making a new Library consisting of the different folders you want to lump together. I suppose you'd need to make a new library for each permutation you think you'd need, so it's kind of unwieldy but still works I guess.

    The background chooser also needs a way to filter by tags.

  • Dreamer: I sent a feedback request for change on that specific topic. Microsoft should have the capability to allow you to choose what type of taskbar you enjoy. That goes along with their Personalization Theme, where you make your desktop how YOU want it. Whether you want 95,98,XP,or my preference Vista.

  • hitmouse
    96 Posts

    It's never worked properly for me.

    Sometimes only the Task Switcher thumbnail for the desktop updates. Other times the shuffle gets stuck on on a one-picture subset of the theme ie if I go to the Theme dialog, I now have a new theme which is the last picture from the shuffle-set to appear.

    The shuffle-dialog becomes partially disabled after you set it, so you can't (for example) change the shuffle frequency. You have to change to another folder and then back for the other controls to be re-enabled.

    There should be a "last theme" option so that you can easily switch back if a new one is a dud. It took a while to notice that I could save a theme set, but it appears that saving a shuffle theme doesn't really work (as per first comments).

  • So, why in the heck is Microsoft forcing users to adapt and use what MICROSOFT  wants us to use? The Windows 7 beta is pretty good, but I can't get past the fact that Microsoft is doing away with the "classic start menu". If I want to use the classic start menu, I should have the right to use it and not be forced to use the new start menu. Seriously, how much more coding is it to keep the classic menu fuction? Microsoft says "it's all about the users experience", then why are you foricing us to use something we don't like? KEEP THE CLASSIC MENU OPTION!!!

  • Very happy to see this functionality added to Windows. One less third-party app to install!

  • I love the fact that this feature has been added to Windows7!  One thing I haven't figured out yet:  If you have several folders you want to be included in the desktop slideshow, is there any way to select them all?  I've only been able to add a single folder's contents.  Would be nice to have the ability to select multiple folders.

  • lee25
    13 Posts

    Quikboy , Windows 7 will not include DreamScene however there is a hack out there that will install it however you have to download each video yourself and they won't show up in Desktop Backgrounds so you have to save them all in a folder and right click and select set as desktop  background on each one when ever you wish to change it.

  • Quikboy
    30 Posts

    Is DreamScene available for Windows 7? I'm not trying the beta. Pictures are neat, but Videos are cool too.

  • nickds7
    1 Posts

    I noticed a possible bug in the background shuffling. I did submit feedback through windows 7 on this issue. Try to recreate it if you can.

    I enabled background shuffling, as a test I switched it to every 10 seconds (or whatever the quickest time is).

    I then unchecked background shuffling.

    In the same window, without closing it, I changed my background. I then applied the background, only to have it switch background shuffling back on. I definitely did disable background shuffling.

  • If the above comment doesn't make sense then sorry, I won't actually be on Windows 7 till the weekend as I'm currently backing up files from my Trojan invested XP partition first, and well I like to rename things and file them before I it takes a while.

    Does the “Get more themes online” feature allow any of what I described or is the comment limited, kinda like Office Online with carefully screened content?  Is the content limited to pictures of locations?

  • Gary Gechlik, I like your thinking the ability to download new backdrops easily was one of my favorite features of PCLinux OS.  There's a menu you go to that connects to the web, you see a preview picture and can download the pic if you like it, it seems to update with most downloaded etc, and some other categories.

    Perhaps this could be in Windows 7 or as an Ultimate Extra for Windows 7 and Vista.  Maybe photo sharing sites like Corbis or Flickr could be involved, and the suggested Wallpaper choices could change daily to keep the desktop fresh.

    The issues here are potential copyright infringement for photos, and of course protecting minors from unsuitable shared content.

    Which is why this feature may be better off being a download extra and not built into the OS... with the ability to subscribe to services like Corbis or Flickr that would be responsible for the shared content.  The Microsoft Legal Department would need to be involved but its sure nice having a choice of new photos for your desktop right at your fingertips so to speak.

  • martial
    1 Posts

    Will Windows 7 support Multiple background for different video output? To avoid scrappy background due to size difference.

    Example daily used at work:

    notebook (1028x768) and LCD (1680x1050)

  • @Gary Gechlik: you know what is a KillerApp for Windows? Games :P Or more precisely: DirectX. It's really weird that Microsoft did not decided to make Windows Gamers Edition yet (i usually do it myself with nlite :) )

    About shuffling desktop backrounds: its cool, but what i really love in win7 is taskbar - how it looks and how it behaves. Good job!

  • I think this is a background feature through gadgets I have been using for a year. I would suggest that MS finally thinks through the issue socially.

    Is there a way that the OS can go online and download in the background a background image. This can include a published image optimized for desk top size. Perhaps this image downloads at a certain time and includes a certain picture, news, etc. Windows7 users can develop backgrounds and share them.

    The point is there has to be an social extension to the background structure.

    I spoke to my friend at Google development this morning. He agrees that MS must focus heavily on its core business model. The Windows 7 team must succeed, because another blown launch could mean a serious setback for the company.

    My advice is to work hard on all those details. However, there has to be a few killer applications.

    Without a killer application now or on the horizon the Windows 7 build will sell, but not at a premium.

    Remember, Apple has I-tunes, a KillerApp. Microsoft had Office from 1998 to 2003. Ed Zander admitted when I was Stanford that Powerpoint was a KillerApp.

    I would even challenge the development team to think deeply. What are the elements of the KillerApp. How many KillerApps do you need for a Windows 7 launch that beats expectations? Answer: 2.

    KillerApp one is aimed at consumers. KillerApp two is aimed at enterprises. Together, these two well deployed applications merge to push Microsoft back into the perceptual lead.

    Remember the XP launch. Microsoft Word was a KillerApp when linked to Outlook. Outlook was a killerApp when linked to MS Word.

    Microsoft Office became the defacto standard. There was no substitute. It dominated even liberal Universities that had a clear Apple bias.


  • Hey Brandon... I am enjoying this feature of Windows 7. However, I am an avid Vista Ultimate user and love the Ultimate extra that plays a video as the wallpaper. Will this Vista Ultimate feature be carried over into Windows 7? I sure miss it already!

  • Just wanted to say BRANDON, YOU ROCK.

    I've been telling my friends about Windows 7 and how it's the best OS ever.

    I gave one my disc which had it installed. Now this is just more stuff to make it even better, I'm gonna do my background now. (I usually keep on default and di the same with Vista)

  • For those asking about the Gadgets not working, one possible fix is to not completely disable UAC. If you set it just one setting up from completely disabling it, the gadgets should work again. Worked for me, good luck.

  • thefalcon2uk Have you got Live Mesh on board? If so it was causing a problem with Aero in Windows 7. The Live Mesh team have now issued a fix as far as I know.

  • I was looking around Personalization last night. I think this rotating background is a great option, but I too was looking forward to an improvement of choices with the Dream moving backgrounds, but alas it seems this has gone?

  • Nice as this feature is what happened to the dream future that is available in Vista?

  • dovella
    303 Posts

    Nice Thank's !!! :D

  • TLTD
    3 Posts

    Nice to see this integrated, more things would be nice so that we aren't always downloading third party apps.  There are many useful ones that are now open source that should be integrated, like tabbed explorer file managers, batch renamers, sending any app to tray, copying files from scratched discs, etc.

  • Jamie
    1 Posts

    Very interesting & pretty useful too.

    Even though I myself don't really change my Desktop Wallpaper much, I'm sure this'll be pretty useful to many people. So kudos.

  • wangjel
    3 Posts

    lucky.........w7 is still beta so it is about working on it not to compare with other OS as football supporters.

    lets go forward. i guess to integrate some functionalities in personalization (as setting transparency, of taskbar untill it can become a "dock", change the size of windows "frames" and to add some simple skins) can help to save quite a lot of space on the desktop, and change the atmosphere of the desktop. Workers they love simplicity, and space?

  • Something that really annoys the hell out of me is when people say that things were introduced by a half eaten apple, when linux had them years before already. I mean the very first distro I ever installed (can't remember which, but was more then 5 years ago at least) had the function to cycle wallpapers.

    Also btw nice to see Windows having caught up on that, even though probably I am never using that feature, cause it is kind of distracting.

    Btw did anyone else have explorer.exe crash when trying to swich from Windows Classic theme to Windows Basic?

  • I remember I used to have a utility on my Windows 95 machine that did the same thing.  WallMaster, apparently the program still exsists:

    Great for Windows 9x systems, haven't tried it myself personally on a XP system.

    Nice to see this feature finally being integrated into an OS.  Windows 95 really was great :-).

  • One problem I am having on themes in Windows 7 is that it won't switch the color.  In fact, I can't even go transparent!  It either has this silver color or a black finish.  No yellow, no pink, no green, etc.

    I have this hunch that it has to do with Windows 7 in beta since not everything is guaranteed to work.  I kinda doubt it is my computer since it is brand new ... not even owned 30 days.

  • Time to reclaim th throne!

  • got 7 installed great for a beta

    still some glitches, bugs etc. that will obviously be fixed in a year or 2 when the real thing comes out, i like that you can change the task bar back to normal buttons like on vista and xp but there is no quick launch so you still have to dock for that, i cant get the gadgets to work, the gallery wont even launch.  the system tray is good about keeping itself cleaned up.  i have weather bug and it keeps hiding it on me though...oh well, i like the ribon interface in paint just like in office 07, now all of us MRSFT fans know that there are 3 things that mac lovers are gonna say we coppied off of them and that is the auto dim after certain amt of time for laptops, the new int. on the taskbar and the slideshow wallpaper. get prepared "pc's"

  • falcon7
    10 Posts

    Just completed my pictures. Works great

  • lee25
    13 Posts

    It only lets you change the picture position on the installed themes and backgrounds not on one's you add yourself at least that's my experience. The option to shuffle doesn't even come active as well. I get what is pretty much shown in the screenshot shown above. The picture postions let me choose it but nothing changes.

  • falcon7
    10 Posts

    Thanks for the info Brandon.  I have started loading pictures as we speak!

    Another we move toward the might be a good idea to have disks available.  I see a lot of people having problems that could be traced back to download ISO/burn difficulties.   Yes it takes people and money to do that, and download is easier....but charging for disks and shipping could offset these costs and might be a good idea..... similar to what we did back with Vista.

  • Locutus
    7 Posts

    Keefie, shuffling wallpapers is hardly a reason to switch to OSX. I doubt people go "Oh wow, OSX lets me shuffle backgrounds - I need to switch!". LOL

  • Hi Keefie, thanks for your comment. This post is simply a How-To post for folks running the Windows 7 Beta to enable something different. It certainly isn't a huge major feature by any means but maybe one folks will enjoy knowing about.

  • keefie
    2 Posts

    If you are so excited by these trivial OS X features that have been copied to Windows why on earth did not you switch to OS X years ago? Either this stuff is not important or you made a big mistake sticking with Windows all this time.