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John’s Background Switcher Adds Dropbox Support, A New Photo Collage Option and More Languages

95 comments

I know I know. I keep saying I’m stopping work on John’s Background Switcher and building a Mac version, but like the addict that I am I keep crawling back. So without further ado, please welcome John’s Background Switcher 4.8 to the world!

Dropbox Rocks

Following on from adding 500px, Last.fm, Pixabay and Tumblr integration back in May, one much requested service a lot of people (myself included) use, Dropbox is now a supported photo source for JBS. I’m an Android user so every photo I take on my phone is automatically uploaded to Dropbox. What could be cooler than a lottery win? Eh, I mean what could be cooler than being able to see those photos scattered over your desktop? Well now you can:

The past few months of my life!

The past few months of my life! Yes, quite a few of the dog…

All you need to do is authorise JBS to view your images on Dropbox, you pick a folder or folders to choose from and leave JBS to it!

Collages Are Cool

Speaking of photo montages, I thought it was about time I added a new option to the mix. So I came up with a photo collage and, since I have no imagination with names (example: John’s Background Switcher) I called it a “photo collage”. It means you can create awesome desktop backgrounds like this:

A Pixabay Photo Collage

And if cute dogs are more your thing:

A Lhasa Apso Montage

Yes I know, Lhasa Apsos are very cute dogs – that’s why I’m so obsessed with mine! More of a kitten guy or girl? We’ve got you covered!

A Kitten Photo Collage

English Is Not The Only Language

Ok, back to John’s Background Switcher. Next up, since JBS is used all over the world by a lot of people whose native language is not English. Some of those people are particularly awesome and have offered to translate JBS into their language. So in addition to being available in English (duh), French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Japanese, I’m delighted that as of version 4.8, JBS also supports Russian, Finnish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. Yay!

Other Shiny Goodness

Another oft requested feature is to support webcams for desktop backgrounds. Now you can simply use the direct URL to a webcam (so long as it returns an image) in the ‘RSS Feeds’ dialog and get your wish!

There are a bunch of bug fixes including getting SmugMug working again (JBS was using an old version of their API that was deprecated when they made an awesome update to their site) and Pixabay (my bad!) along with performance improvements to Flickr integration (it’ll be a lot less heavy on the number of calls it makes to the Flickr API which should speed things up somewhat). And while we’re talking about Flickr, you can now authenticate JBS to Flickr via a Facebook or Google login. Oh yes.

Message Ends

Right, enough talk! Go to the download page and get yourself upgraded, peruse the full release notes and enjoy! :)

Posted by

Scotsman, footballer, software developer, bounty hunter, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

95 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. You rock John! I have been using your BG switcher for over and year and nothing comes close to your feature set. I’ve already converted several people to JBS and continue to do so whenever I can. All my support!

    Reply

  2. Oh, great News John!! Keep up the good work.

    I really like the feature of adding a webcam source! I have a few folders configured and they are showing up and mixing like a charm. If i add two webcam sources, they are not mixing up with the other pictures. So only the webcam images OR my other backgrounds are shown. Is there an option to show the webcam images every time and mixing up with all the other images? Like some kind of a “sticky” feature? :-)

    Thanks again!!

    Reply

    • Yeah, unfortunately due to a design mistake I made a few years back it’s surprisingly difficult to get JBS to use all sources at once. So currently it’ll either choose from Flickr, or Facebook, or RSS Feeds or whatever sets you’ve created, but one source at a time. It picks the source at random each time. But I am looking to choose from all sources at once in the next version – stay tuned!

      Reply

  3. Thank you for your great tool. I use it for years. The new feature “collage” looks nice, but is there a possibility to change the number or size of the pics? My Display has a resolution of 2560×1600 pix and the collage shows me 45 small pics. That’s to much. See here a screenshot: https://db.tt/hhkoF6EZ
    Greetings from Germany

    Reply

    • So the photo collage is a bit experimental at the moment. I’ve just put it out there with some basic settings to see how it behaves on a variety of users machines and then, if it needs a lot of tweaking, I’ll add options to ‘More Settings’ to let you change the tile sizes. However you can actually change the tile sizes yourself manually in the meantime.

      Go to the ‘Import / Export’ section of ‘More Settings’ and ‘Export’ your settings. Then open the resulting file in Notepad and look for the ‘collage_tile_width’ and ‘collage_tile_height’ values. If you make them larger then the size of the pictures on your screen will also be larger, so experiment and see what works best for you then let me know! Once you’ve changed the numbers, save the file and ‘Import’ back into JBS and next time you switch your background it’ll use those new values.

      Reply

      • Thank you for your help. I have doubled the values ​​and now there are only 10 pics. It looks great. Your JBS is a really fine tool. Makes a lot of fun. Go on.

        I will go on a christmas market and drink a mulled wine for you. Thanks and Greets

        Reply

  4. Really sorry but sinbce I updated 4.8, no more icon in the down right corner and impossible to access the parameters though the process is active. Uninstalling and reinstalling doesn’t change anything. What to do

    Reply

    • The app itself hasn’t changed, so nothing about 4.8 will behave any differently to 4.7. All you need to do is run JBS from the Start menu and if it’s already running it’ll prompt you to bring up the settings dialog. You can then switch off the tray icon, OK everything and switch it on again from ‘More Settings’ if you like.

      Reply

      • Thx for the very quick reply: it’s weird, but the tray icon suddenly appears more than 2 mns after running the program ?? There was no such delay with 4.7 ands nothing else changed on my system…. Bah, Harry Potter’s trick, I guess….
        Great job with the collage.

        Reply

        • Weird. The first thing JBS does is tell Windows “hey, here’s an icon, put it in the notification tray” so maybe that’s taking its time. Anyway, glad you like it! :)

  5. Just wanted to say thanks, this program is probably the best and i hope you keep up the good job.

    Reply

  6. Thanks for your excelent program. I’ve tried your last 3 versions, and everyone of them works perfectly. In the past, I must have tried at least 4 other programs in order to manage the pics displayed im my desktop, but for the past 2 years, your program is the one.
    If you ever need help in translate, the fisplay windows of your program to portuguese let me know, I can help.

    Best Regards
    Jorge

    Reply

  7. Hi, nice tool.. cant live without it.

    I was wondering, since you have a No Draw Zone, would it be possible to have the zone still draw the BG picture, but the picture pile stay away from it.. So let say I have a picture of myself in the middle as BG, I draw the zone around and now, all the picture pile generate around me.

    Reply

  8. Great program, but still no tiled backgrounds. *sigh* I’d sure like to add my tile collection to the mix.

    Reply

    • Unfortunately tiled backgrounds don’t really sit well with the rest of the functionality of JBS. JBS is all about photos and you can generally pick a single picture mode at a time (eg. scale to full screen, collage, montage, etc.) but if you introduce tiling into the mix then do you make it a mode in its own right? If so that wouldn’t work 99% of the time if you’re picking photos. But if you don’t then how do you present it to the user that sometimes JBS will decide to treat pictures differently and tile them – particularly when you can tell it to exclude photos below a certain size (something that can be confusing when someone is trying to figure out what it’s doing and why it’s skipping some pictures)? I guess the other point is it’s only been requested by about 3-4 people in the past 10 years so given I have limited time I only work on the most requested features. That said, if I can come up with a non-confusing way to integrate it I will.

      Reply

  9. Hi John,

    The new version is great. I love the new collage feature and have been using it on all my PCs. Just a quick question: I noticed that sometimes landscape photos are used in portrait part of the collage and vise versa and this is affecting its overall look. Is it possible to use landscape for the landscape portions and portrait for the portrait portions?

    Reply

    • So I’ve been experimenting with different options for the collage and it looks like the best compromise is to change the settings so that the tiles it generates (which contain either 1-3 photos) work best when square. Try it out by exporting your settings from the ‘Import / Export’ section of ‘More Settings’, opening them in notepad and looking for ‘collage_tile_width’ and ‘collage_tile_height’ and setting them both to 600. Save, re-import, OK everything and you should get better results. I’ll most likely change the default in the next version.

      Reply

  10. Thanks for the update.
    but when can we expect a simple WEBDAV client within JBS to allow me to connect to my OWNCLOUD and thereby kick-ass all the Big Brothers.

    Regards
    Gerry

    Reply

    • WebDAV support is on the todo list for a future version, but as you may note I don’t have anywhere near enough free time to work on JBS as I’d like so releases and features can take a while!

      Reply

  11. Yay, it’s Christmas already. I love the new collage feature. I have a laptop with a 17.3” screen and a 1600×900 resolution. My settings for collage_tile_width/collage_tile_height is 400 for both and I get really nice results.

    Thanks a lot merry Christmas

    Michael

    Reply

  12. I would suggest a feature to calendar: display the previous month and next month, instead of displaying the next two months.

    Reply

  13. Love the program! If I could make an enhancement request for some future version…
    It would be great if there were (I’ll call them) “collection configurations”. The idea is that you can configure certain photo folders or sources and save that group. Then configure another set of folders or sources and save that. Then be able to switch between the two just by loading one or the other…
    For example you could have “all” and “for when company is over” (don’t necessarily want to show ALL my photos when I have company over!). My PC sit’s right in the living room… Or maybe a collection could be “summer” or “winter” I’d select all the folders from my summer months photos to display in the winter and winder photos in the summer. Or maybe it’s different subjects with different google image searches…
    What do you think?

    Reply

    • John, I notice you comment on a lot of posts… But no comment about my suggestion. I thought you would like this idea!
      What do you think of it?

      Reply

      • Ah, sorry, I forgot to reply! I try to keep the UI as simple as possible and will only add something if it’s either of such high value that it would be crazy not to, or it’s highly requested and I can implement it without compromising that simple UI. I certainly understand what you’re suggesting and accept that it would be pretty neat, but it could potentially complicate the UI, so I’d need to ensure that the impact was minimal. When I first wrote JBS all the other background switching apps out there had every possible piece of functionality, but you ended up with a UI that only power users could understand, so I wanted to build something simple. It’s also only been suggested once or twice before a few years back so is definitely in the edge case category. That said, you can import and export your settings, so I could always extend that functionality so you could swap in and out photo sets accordingly.

        Anyway, it’s on the list, although as to when I can implement it, I couldn’t say I’m afraid. It all comes down to time (which I haven’t got enough of). In the meantime if you’re happy with local images, an app like Wallpaper Master does support categories.

        Reply

  14. Pingback: Today’s Geek Squeaks – December 20, 2013 | What's On My PC

  15. Thank you so much for making this program and keeping it alive. This is on my MUST HAVE list for every system I build or help maintain. When I show people how easy it is and what it can do, they love it too.

    I just sent you a donation. I rarely do this, but JBS is worth it.

    Mike
    Los Angeles, CA

    Reply

  16. Awesome John! I remember requesting the collage feature on the deceased forum. I’m super glad to see it finally see the light of days :) good job!

    Reply

      • Is there any user setting for the collage mode? I want to adjust the collage border between images to 0.

        Reply

        • Yes, export your settings from the ‘Import / Export’ section of ‘More Settings’ then open it in notepad. You’ll find ‘collage_tile_width’, ‘collage_tile_height’ and ‘collage_border’ options that you can tweak. Once done, save the file and re-import it then OK everything in JBS and you should be good to go. Note that I’m not sure you’ll be able to completely remove the border in all cases, even if you set ‘collage_border’ to 0 as it’s not something I tested.

  17. Great tool. But I would like to change the pictures more often than then the 30s minimum. Maybe you can allow shorten it to 10s as I use it for a slide show of my pictures. Thanks

    Reply

    • If you’re running a modern version of Windows it’ll switch every 10 seconds. XP doesn’t play nicely with short switching intervals unfortunately.

      Reply

  18. Awesome Dropbox Support!!!
    Quick Question – I’m not seeing photos in sub-folders appearing. Is that by-design?

    Thanks!

    Reply

  19. Hi, congrats for your work! Would you consider to implement changing the windows aero color to match the current background like Pulse does (Aero Glass Color Sync)? Thanks!

    Reply

  20. This is a great piece of software. How’s the screensaver/lock coming along?

    Reply

    • Current progress: zero I’m afraid. Speaking of which, Picasa comes with a really cool screensaver. You could point it at your JBS download folder, or even one of its caches, then you’ve got yourself a neat screensaver.

      Reply

  21. Hi, me again.. been playing with the collage feature so far.. Been great, however, theres a tendency of repeating source picture.. I used 450 px x 450 px collage on 1366 x 768 screen and in 10 collages, 2 or 3 will used the same picture, usually top left and bottom right corner.. I set 10 folders with each around 500-1000 pictures so its not due to limited selection.

    Reply

    • Yeah, it tries to figure out how many pictures it’s going to need before it puts the collage together (so the number of source pictures is irrelevant) and so was optimised based on the defaults. If you go larger than 450 does the number of duplicates drop off? I’ll tweak it in the next version to grab a few extra just to be sure.

      Reply

      • Tried 400×400 and 500×500.. both yields the same result.. duplicates still happens .. 500×500 do dropped a bit when I spammed it, but thats due to the fact less picture needed to filled the screen.

        Reply

  22. HI John,
    Love the app, however since the new version my 2nd monitor changes colour based on the 1st monitors wallpaper colour. How do I keep my 2nd monitor from changing at all?

    Thanks.

    Reply

  23. Pingback: John’s Background Switcher 4.8 | Auxiliary Memory

  24. John,

    Please don’t stop the great product you have produced over the years. I want to say Thank you. And know a lot of us rely on and use your product daily.

    Roger L

    Reply

  25. Now that Dropbox integration has been added, how about an option to synchronize your configuration settings to a Dropbox folder? Even just a way to periodically export to a non-timestamped file would be nice, but the ability to notice and automatically import changes made on other computers would be the cat’s meow! I suppose you’d want to keep monitor-specific settings in a separate per-computer section, but having picture set changes made on my desktop propagate to my laptop (and vice versa) would be great.

    Reply

  26. hey man, very good job. love this sw for years. why don’t get in an android backgroung swithcher? i only found one on the market (JustPictures) but is a little bit unfriendly to use (you have to select by hand the pictures you want to use).

    Reply

    • I use one called Image 2 Live Wallpaper and it works well (enough).. Of course I’ll switch to John’s when it’s released.. ;)

      Reply

  27. Thanks again John for another fine update. I don’t have your app running all the time but when I get in the mood, I am glad it’s installed! I can’t remember if I every asked about this feature request before, so sorry if I did, and here goes again.. I am a hotkey guy and it would be really nice to be able to pause the app via hotkey, and even close the app via hotkey (I know I’m reaching on that one)…
    Lastly, I used to only use local pictures in my list but I’ve been trying your flickr and 500px options and I am noticing that it shows a lot of repeats, especially (and maybe only) from 500px (set to popular). It would be really nice to have it more randomized, so I am just mentioning it, not complaining..

    Reply

  28. Your program is the only reason we haven’t switched all of our computers to mac… Great program!

    Reply

  29. Hi John, I know there are plenty of proposals, so thank you for bearing with us :)
    Is there a chance to make Wallbase, DesktopNexus or any similar site a provider? Since almost all current ones focus on photography, sources for illustrations and regular wallpapers would be nice additions. Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • I’m happy to add pretty much any site or service that, crucially, has a public API. Sites like Wallbase don’t, so the only alternative would be for JBS to screenscrape the site without permission which I don’t want to do.

      A lot of sites depend on people actually visiting sites and clicking on ads to pay the bills, so apps like JBS go against that philosophy. A public API is a way for the site / service owner to say they’re happy for 3rd party applications to consume their data (photos), so until sites like Wallbase have one, I can’t add them to JBS. When they do though I’ll add them! :)

      Reply

  30. I’m loving the work-in-progress COLLAGE feature, and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop more in the future. I used the trick you posted for someone else to enlarge the frames somewhat, and that’s got me happy until you get a chance to make that a GUI-based option.
    The other thing I’d like to suggest (which I suspect you’ve already thought of) is that the pictures chosen for each collage space should match the space’s aspect ratio. I get lots of crotch shots when vertical-aspect photos are put in a horizontal-aspect collage space.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  31. Dude… seriously… where has this program been all of my life?

    We love this thing. I have been looking for a good background switcher/photoboard forever, and it has been a road paved with bitter disappointment… until we found yours. It does everything we imagined we needed… and more.

    Nice work.

    Reply

  32. This is a grat piece of software! Thanx for that!
    Have a similar problem like todd.
    I use the google search on multible urls with the “site:” switch from goole an it seemes that the pictures repeats often although there are enough pictures on the source.

    Reply

    • Unfortunately the Google API I use is a deprecated one that actually only returns a small number of results (around 128 per set). Worse still is a lot of sites show one thing to Google, but another to actual users. So for instance JBS may get a list of pictures from Google, but when it tries to download them the site sees that they’re not Google, so instead of serving up the image tries to redirect you to a web page – they’re trying to prevent apps like JBS from downloading pictures from them – so JBS ends up not being able to from particular sites.

      At some point I’ll stop supporting Google search and remove it (the new version costs cash money to use sadly). I try to keep the number of hits to photo sites as low as possible and when adding a new one, like 500px, I’ll only raise them if things are looking good. So currently JBS can choose from a wider number of photos than 500px but I’ll look to raise that in a future version.

      Reply

  33. I would really like the ability to have it shuffle between different modes, without having it do all of them. For example, just have it switch between collage and scale.

    Reply

    • So if you ‘Export’ your settings from the ‘Import / Export’ section of ‘More Settings’ and open the file in notepad, look for ‘exclude_scale_from_random_display_mode’ and you’ll see for each of the possible picture modes there is an entry. For the ones you don’t want to see, change ‘false’ to ‘true’, save the file, re-import it into JBS and OK everything. Hope that helps!

      Reply

      • Thank you very much, it works perfectly. I have noticed, though, that there isn’t an option yo exclude stretch or centre, yet they still didn’t show up after disabling the other ones I didn’t want in random. So, do they just not show up in random, are they included under “Overscale,” or something else? This is merely a question out of curiosity, because everything’s working exactly how I want it.

        Reply

  34. a perfect software. Thanks John. I use it on every Units. I told my friends about your software, they like it

    Reply

  35. Hi John. Seems like a great product, but I’m getting this error all the time of google search results, flickr (been authorised) and rss feed. Not been able to get it to work I’m afraid. The error is:

    Could not load file or assembly ‘System.Web, Version=2.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=……..

    Is this a known error? Running Windows 7 Home ed. 64bit.

    Thought maybe my .Net 2.0 gone wrong, but windows refuses to install it as it has it already.

    Reply

    • That does usually mean your .NET Framework needs a repair, which you can do from the ‘Programs and Features’ section of ‘Control Panel’. Note that JBS only requires a minimum of .NET 2.0, so if you have .NET 4.5 that’s fine, that’s what you’ll need to repair.

      All those years ago I chose to build JBS on .NET because it supposedly meant I didn’t have to worry about people’s machines – if .NET was installed it would work. Turns out that is absolutely not the case and .NET can mess itself up six ways from Sunday! Let me know how you get on and drop me an email if you’re still stuck.

      Reply

  36. Hi, I just stumbled on to your wallpaper changer a few days ago. Best I’ve ever come across. I would have one request I thought I would share with you. Perhaps the most obscure request – I found your program by looking for a wallpaper changer that could work with individual monitors in a multi-monitor setup. Yours is still the best I tried in that regard. What I really wanted in such a program though was to control the other monitor (a 2560×1560 display) when my laptop was connected to it. Then it would randomly change it’s background. However when the laptop is disconnected, it wouldn’t do anything else otherwise. So basically is in my setup, it only changes monitor 2 when there is a monitor 2. Looks like your program MUST change wallpaper at all monitors even though it does have great options for controlling each monitor separately. Also when I disconnect the laptop from the other monitor, what I had set up for only monitor 2 then starts working for monitor 1 (my laptop monitor). Well, thanks for reading. I’m not expecting anything is this is a FREE product which outperforms the non-free competing products I’ve all tried.

    Reply

    • Better multi-monitor support (and basically individual monitor control functionality) has long been on my todo list for JBS. The only thing it can do is change the background on a single monitor and leave the other blank. However when it flips back down to 1 monitor it ignores that since it’s no longer (from it’s point of view) a multi-monitor system. And the trouble is if I continued to treat it like a multi-monitor system then a lot of people would be confused (and complain to me, or worse just uninstall JBS) when they disconnect the other monitor and “JBS stops working”, even though it’s supposed to do what it’s doing. That said, as I mention it is on my todo list and I always want to make functionality like that not work in unexpected ways, so I’ll get there eventually!

      Reply

  37. Hi John.
    I want to appreciate you for the awesome app that you have designed. I have found it to be the best of all the background switchers available out there.

    I have been using it for more than a year now. I just would like to share an experience and request an enhancement (I would rather not call it a bug). I have my Windows Taskbar aligned to the left instead of the default bottom. So today when I set the calendar to “Bottom Left”. part of it was hidden under the Taskbar. Could you add some check to see if the Taskbar is aligned on the left and offset the calendar accordingly. For now I have moved the calendar back to the “Bottom Right”. :)
    Best Regards,
    Dinesh Sehra

    Reply

    • Believe it or not reliably figuring out where and how big the taskbar is can be surprisingly tricky. Anyway, that is on my todo list (or at least allowing you to specify and offset), so stay tuned! And thanks! :)

      Reply

  38. It is great software, I congratulate you for sharing it. I advise JBS whenever my friend ask me or someone ask me about wallpapers. I customize my screen how I want. Thanks…. I hope we can see it as an android application. There is a huge gap because there is no android application which has so specifications as JBS. Thanks again….

    Reply

  39. I really like your software. Where can we report bugs, and ask for features? I now have 2 monitors with different resolutions (3840×2160, 1920×1200), and can’t get JBS to fill both desktops. It seems to generate a single image (%APPDATA%\johnsadventures.com\Background Switcher\ActiveBackground.jpg) with a bunch of black space between them, and tells windows to display that one photo in tile mode. I am using collage with different images on both monitors. I don’t know if the software isn’t reading the resolutions wrong, or if it isn’t reading the screens relative positions, or it is conflicting with the high dpi settings in windows 8.1.

    Reply

    • You can always email me. Have you tried the “work around multiple monitors being shown in the wrong order” option? Also, if you have different DPI on different monitors, JBS won’t handle it so you’d need to make them match. If you still can’t get it to work, drop me an email.

      Reply

  40. I would just like to say that when using an image with .png transparency, it gets shown as white when just the one image is being shown, but as black when it’s in a collage.This isn’t exactly a bug, just a inconsistency. Personally, I get better results when it’s white.

    Reply

  41. John,
    excellent work!
    thx a lot for this really cool “wallpaper boredom killer”!

    just one thing would be on my wishlist :-)
    choosing some selected picture modes out of the available ones instead of using random mode.

    Best Regards
    Bernd

    Reply

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