Post Format

LOLCats, DeviantArt, Zooomr, ipernity, photobucket And More On Your Desktop With John’s Background Switcher 3.6


John’s Background Switcher has long supported photo sites like Flickr, smugmug, Phanfare and Picasa Web Albums and even Facebook a couple of versions ago – but they were never enough. I’d regularly have people on my forum or emailing me directly asking to support myriad other photo sites and I’d dutifully add them onto my to-do list. More often than not the sites wouldn’t have any sort of developer API I could use to extract photos and my frustration would grow.

All that changed with the wonder of Media RSS. This is a common feed format that, without getting boring and technical, means that if added support to JBS for it, I’d suddenly be able to support a whole host of photo sites without any more work. And with version 3.6 that’s exactly what I’ve done.

RSS Feed IconTake DeviantArt for example. If you browse through the site you’ll notice that on pretty much every page – be it a category page or a person’s photo page, there’s a link near the bottom that looks like the icon to the right (albeit somewhat smaller). That’s the feed link. Click on it and you’ll see what the feed version of that page looks like – in most browsers it’s not very interesting. But if you copy that address and paste it into the ‘Add Feed’ dialog in JBS then you’ll be able to see those photos on your desktop.

The RSS Add Feeds Dialog

Or take a site like LOLCats (which I love). My good lady thinks I’m insane but it always makes me laugh. Anyway, there’s a big orange feed icon right at the top of the page. Copy that URL into JBS and your desktop can look like this!

A LOLCats Desktop

You can use as many feeds as you like at the same time and JBS will choose photos from all of them. So you’ll be able to mix your Zooomr photos with LOLCats, attractive women on DeviantArt, photobucket photos, featured photos from Webshots (for some reason only the featured feeds are Media RSS, user feeds aren’t) and so on. Just look out for the orange feed icon!

JBS 3.6 has been tested with a host of sites but if you find one that you think should work but doesn’t, then let me know and I’ll try to support it in the next version. Bear in mind that not all sites provide enough information in their feeds for JBS to use properly (FriendFeed being one that springs to mind – come on guys, put the photo page URLs in your media:group’s!) but hopefully in time I’ll be able to support them too.

I’ve also added a bunch of highly requested features such as ‘Shuffle mode’ for folders, a ‘Never Show Again’ option so that if a picture comes up that you don’t like it’ll never appear again, a workaround for problems in Windows where your monitors get displayed the wrong way round, some useful defaults for first-time users, options to explicitly set your own snapshot scrapbook background and a host of bug fixes.

Anyway, you can download the latest version at the John’s Background Switcher page. It’s free, it’s fun and, eh, did I say it was free?!

Posted by

Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

42 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Hey John, just wanted to say thanks for your ingenious program, can’t believe that something already perfect can get even better!
    Also thx for your very entertaining blog I discovered along with the background switcher.
    Keep it up!


  2. Thanks John! It’s my Winter project and I’ve been promising it for so long – it’s time to get started and actually do it! šŸ™‚


  3. John – this is by far and away the software which gives me the most pleasure! Many thanks for making my day that little bit better with your fine work.

    When I work I have tapestry of memories to keep me company.

    Thanks again!

    Shaun in Sydney


  4. Thanks Shaun, it really makes me smile to think that something I’ve written can make your day better. You’re most welcome! šŸ™‚


  5. LOLcats is very funny; I can understand why you like it. šŸ™‚

    This is an AMAZING new feature you’ve added… simply marvelous! Thanks so much!!


  6. Hi John,

    Thanks so much for the excellent app. I’ve donated Ā£15 to your cause, and I encourage others to do the same. My motto is, if you like well made software, support it! šŸ™‚



  7. I’m really excited about the RSS media feeds. Unfortunately my site is password protected. Is there any chance that you will support authorization for RSS feeds in the future?

    Thanks for the great app!



  8. Hi Peter – ah yes, that’s on my list although I couldn’t find any password protected Media RSS feeds to test it on! Tell you what, drop me an email and I’ll work with you to get authorisation working if you like.

    While the next big release is 4.0 I was fully expecting that as people use more feeds I’ll want to release a 3.7 that improves feed support, handles various authentication mechanisms and correct any issues as they crop up.


  9. all in one! that is a great program. your photos, photos from web and make collage with them, all in one and without any problem! thanks a lot.


  10. Hi John,

    I happened to discover your blog and started using JBS 3 months ago.
    I must say it’s amazing. Never get bored my desktop again! I love this program.

    Thanks a lot and please keep up the well-done job šŸ™‚


  11. The background switcher is great, and I love it but… I’d like the similar feeds used for a screen saver. I am using the google photos screen saver, now, but it would be great if your program could simply have an option to provide a slide show of pictures and be installed as a SS.


  12. Hi John,

    Your program does make my desktop more fun to look at.
    A few suggestions
    The never show again option, to select multiple pictures (ctrl + select)
    The option to show foto’s from a local folder, to deselect some maps you don’t want to show. ie.. I selected my Pictures folder which contains numerous folders. but some of them are more private. An tree-view with checkboxes would be more handy.

    As for screenssaver.. I just disabled the screensaver and your program refreshes every 15 minutes :). Only the pc can’t be locked then.

    tnx for your fine program!


  13. Hi Richard,

    Multi-select for ‘never show again’ is on the list for 4.0 as is the ability to exclude folders from selection, so that’ll sort both of your suggestions out! And with screensaver functionality planned too that should be a full house!

    And you’re welcome! šŸ™‚


  14. I found this program a few days ago and can’t stop telling people about it. I am very happy that you are planning more options for the future for an already great program; that doesn’t kill my aging system. Should you need anyone for testing let me know. Yay for LOL Cats.

    Thanks so much!!


  15. How could I miss this one so late? It was a mistake for me not subscribing to your feed, I guess šŸ™‚

    I wonder how you could get this idea


  16. BetaAly: Cool, I’ve added you to my beta testers list so when I have a beta of 4.0 that’s worth testing I’ll let you know.

    zaxta: Ha ha! A lot of ideas are suggested by the people who use JBS (every single suggestion goes directly into my tracking system whether it’s emailed to me directly, is suggested in uninstall feedback or posted on my forum) and others just pop into my head randomly!


  17. 1) I love your app – I have been looking for years for a good multi monitor, multi picture background switcher and finally found JBS about 9 months ago thanks to CNet.

    2) I too am a fan of ICHC but I cannot get the RSS feed feature to work correctly. I just have 50 pictures of happycat, an occasional failblog thumnail and a cheeseburger – none of the pictures are post pictures. The URL I’m using for the feed is: I looked at the XML feed and half of the links are to the happy cat, so I can see where it’s getting those, but I would expect at least some of the post pictures would come through, but they never do. It’s ALL happy cat.



    • Looks like ICHC has just changed the format of their feed rather annoyingly so JBS is picking up the happy cat image all the time. Looks like I’ll have to release a fix to JBS to work around their changes. Grrrr.

      Oh, for future reference (and to help me keep track of things) please report any issues in my Support Forum, thanks!


  18. Hi how’s it going? Love the background switcher.
    I had a question…

    Is it possible to add an option to display a caption, located with in the pciture files properties?

    I’m thinking a general location or user defined location along with font size and type options.

    Maybe its too much. In any case, thanks for the great software, works great with multiple monitors.


    • That’s something I’m planning on adding to the next version – 4.0. You’ll be able to pick exactly what picture information to show including any EXIF information that’s present and what font / size / position to display it. So stay tuned!

      And you’re welcome!


  19. Perhaps you could point out in the dialog boxes that only Media RSS works, and not just any RSS. This took a couple of tries to realize.


    • The error messages JBS pops up should mention if a feed isn’t Media RSS and indeed it can handle some non-Media RSS feeds and I’ll be extending that in the next version. However you’re right, I should have made it more clear in the current version (although the help mentions it, who reads help?!).


  20. Thanks for the reply!

    I didn’t know what Media RSS was until I came here to read more about this lovely program. I think I thought that there was something faulty with the feeds themselves, not the program, so there was no need to investigate the help sections.

    I tried the feed at – an adoreable, horrible web comic. Now that I think about it, I think web comics would be excellent for backgrounds!

    Perhaps it’s already available, but how about having a thread or blog entry here with lots of (user contributed) feed suggestions?


  21. I donated to your cause. I have been using your software for a while now and it runs great even in Vista ^^ thank you for your efforts.


  22. Hello John, thanks for this freeware.
    What do you think about translate it? I mean have a multi-language package…

    I’m Italian and I could help if youd like to translate it.

    Thanks again.


    • Hi Dario, that would be great! I’m hoping to have the next version translated into multiple language so will let you know nearer the time if you’re still interested in helping out.


  23. Great app John
    I have seven picture sets saved. How do I choose different picture sets for different days of the week and shuffle within the picture set on a given day?



    • Thanks Raja! I’m afraid you can’t do it out of the box in the current version but I’ll investigate that for the next version.

      In the meantime if you were technically inclined you could set up JBS as a scheduled task (which is explained in the help file) and create an app that periodically alters the JBS settings file (Settings.xml that you can find if you click ‘Open Folder’ in the ‘Import/Export’ section of the ‘More Settings’ dialog) to turn various photo sets on and off at will.


  24. John –
    So far love the program. Only thing I have found is that my pictures will only switch based on which mode is Current – I’d love for it to randomly switch between modes – so 1 switch and I am looking at one of my photos from Picasa, and the next, one of my DeviantArt feeds.
    This is also important to me because I have a small collection of actual backgrounds I like to see, but that mode gets repetitive fast.

    Let me know if this makes sense.


    • You’re in luck! Click on the ‘More Settings’ button from the main settings dialog, go to the ‘Advanced’ section and click ‘Change to a random mode on every switch’ and that’ll do exactly what you’re after! šŸ™‚


Leave a Reply to LoreCancel reply