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John’s Background Switcher 4.4 Released!


It’s been far too long since I last released a new version of John’s Background Switcher and that’s mostly been as a result of my having precious little free time to work on it. I guess the problem with developing freeware is that working on things that pay the bills (i.e. my normal job) will always be the higher priority. Anyway, my New Year Resolution this year was to dedicate more time to JBS and to build a Mac version so to start making good on that promise 4.4 is now live.

What started out as a bug fix release turned out to include a few new much-requested features and several more languages. Firstly, if you’re running on Windows 7 you can now opt to override the logon screen with your current background (have a look in ‘More Settings’):

Set The Windows 7 Login Screen

You can now customise the fonts on postcards, polaroids, the calendar and anywhere else JBS uses fonts. Since you might want to use different fonts in different places you’ll see font buttons in all the right places in ‘More Settings’. While you’re there take a look at the ‘Montages’ section and the drop-down list highlighted below:

Straight Montages

Also you can opt to have the postcards / polaroids placed at random angles (the default) or all straight (although still at random positions). It’s strangely refreshing to have them straight after all the years of them being at different angles!

Since you could choose a random picture mode I thought it would be handy to choose random processing effects, random snapshot scrapbook backgrounds and so on. Look out for the rolling dice – you’ll find it in most places:

Random Effects

In terms of languages JBS is now available in Russian, Finnish and Hungarian in addition to Japanese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese-Brazilian, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Polish and Slovenian. Oh and English!

There are a host of bug fixes and other tweaks and changes so check out the full release notes for details. And then go and download John’s Background Switcher!

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

66 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. What a fantastic program you’ve made John.

    I use it at home and, thanks to the image “safe” mode features, at work too. Just want to let you know I’m delighted by this cool tool!



  2. Hi John,

    I also want to add my thanks to you providing this delightfully small but useful tool.

    I have a few folders where I’ve collected my favourite wallpapers from all over the place – including from all of the past versions of Windows. It’s great to be able to just have them pop into view every now and then.

    And your tantalising line about making a Mac version? I can’t wait!!!



    • Yeah, I’ve delayed the Mac version for way too long already! I’m even taking a couple of weeks holiday just to work on it (I’ll pick a couple of weeks when it rains – so Summer time in Yorkshire I expect)!


  3. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, I recommend this great background tool, to everyone. To me it is more than just a way to make my desktop interesting, I travel all the time for my job and it is how I stay connected with family and friends being able to see all of the pictures makes travel not so lonely.


  4. Thank you so much for coding this.

    It’s never crashed on me, doesn’t cause any kind of grief, and does exactly what it says on the tin – and does that superbly. My computer would be a much more boring place without it. (Maybe you could put a ‘Made in Yorkshire’ sticker on it as some kind of sign of quality ๐Ÿ™‚ )


  5. Thanks, John, for a great tool! My husband has set up our parents’ computers with the software so they can see all the photos we take of our new baby! It is a really useful, and beautifully designed tool.


  6. still one of the most useful tools on my system, in regards to wallpapers, I would strain myself to find a feature that’s not already implemented.

    And thank you again for not sucking up my CPU time, my wallpaper folder has about 750.000 Files and JBS handles them very fast.


    • You’re welcome! Glad to hear it’s not slowing your system down with that many pictures – I put quite a bit of work into making sure that even with a large number of pictures to choose from it would keep its impact to a minimum.


  7. Great Program John,

    May I request though that you allow it so we can bulk select certain picture modes & effects, like I want postcard & Polaroid but not that thumbnail one or greyscale & sepia but not soften colors. (Currently the closest to that is Random Mode but that randomizes all picture modes & effects).

    Simple like CTRL + Click modes & effects you want or even just a tick box alongside the modes & effects (not pick one & one only, I hope I make sense).

    Besides that this is a great program & is only getting better with updates, keep up the great work!


    • You can exclude the thumbnail mosaic from the random modes (‘Picture Sources’ on ‘More Settings’) however you’re right, it would be better to be able to choose which modes and effects you want available and that’s already on my to-do list for the next major version of JBS. So I’ll get it in there eventually! And thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Bonjour,
    Merci pour l’ensemble de votre site. Cela est merveilleux que des images ou photos choisies dรฉfilent avec la surprise, laquelle? Vous nous apportez beaucoup de bonheur par la variรฉtรฉ possible et infinie des images. Je vais cocher : Avertissez-moi des commentaires suivi par e-mail, mais est-ce suffisant pour recevoir toutes les informations que vous diffusez? A quel endroit faut-il aller ? Y a-t-il une liste de lettres diffusรฉes et peut-on cocher la langue de diffusion. Actuellement j’utilise la traduction de Google. Merci encore pour le bonheur que vous nous offrez, beaucoup de chance et de bonheur pour vous et longue vie, car vous aidez l’รชtre humain.
    Mes sincรจres amitiรฉs Bernard


  9. Thanks for this awesome program, John! The fact that it knows which of my monitors is portrait and which is landscape and applies backgrounds accordingly is the greatest thing ever.


  10. John,

    You’ve done it again. Awesome work. I can’t wait for the MAC version as well. My wife has a Pro and is jealous of my desktop at home with this on it. Great job as usual.

    My only suggestion would be for more “wood panel” and “corkboard” type backgrounds. Those are the best. If there were a few more like it, such as a glass table or something, it would be fun to alternate between them.

    Thanks again!



  11. Hi John!
    Greeting from Vietnam and thank a lot for your fantastic program. I have tried a lot of similar programs but your is really, really awesome! Most appealing for me is the ability to google around for new wallpapers so over the time, I could collect many beautiful wallpapers and at the same time let me surprise by new ones.
    I wish you have plenty of sunshine in Yorkshire as we have here.


  12. Great tool John. Cheers and much thanks for providing this.

    A satisfied JBS user!



  13. Thanks so much from a new mommy that can’t stand to be away from her son!!! I have so many pictures on here I get to see him doing something new every few minutes! Truly makes being at work a little more managable. Thank goodness for it being such safe hardware…I work for an aerospace company and we made it through all the firewalls! Thanks again!!!


  14. John,

    Your background switcher goes on every computer I own, every computer I setup for friends and I have many co-workers running it at the office.


    Thank you so much for providing this application. I started using it many years ago and it’s always great to see that you are still supporting it.


  15. John,
    I love your program. I have lots of photos on my computer – some are digitized from slides my Dad took back in the 50’s. I LOVE it when my desktop’s postcard pile includes shots of my Mom, me as a kid (I’m now 62), my daughter as a child (she’s 37) and her son, my grandson (who is 4). Thank you for creating a way for me to enjoy the past like this!


  16. Great program! I recommend this program to everyone I know. I am looking forward to the MAC version.


  17. John, an excellent update, loving the logon-changer.

    If your looking for attention from the Windows enthusiast community, have you considered a post on’s Backpage News? (Apologies if you have!).

    I am _more_ than happy to drop some kudos there for you if that’s OK?



  18. Thanks for this Great software!
    so far is the Best of The Best wallpaper changer world wide!!!


  19. Hi John,

    many thanks for this wonderful piece of software. Is there a way to disable the “admin rights” which Version 4.4. needs? Version 4.3 worked for me due to the lack of admin rights which are necessary to install 4.4.

    Can’t upgrade now ๐Ÿ™


    • Are you on XP? In which case you can run the installer as non-admin – just pick your current user from the selector dialog. Check that the installer you have is version 4.4.0 17 or above and you’ll be fine (if you have an earlier version of 4.4 then re-download it from the usual place).

      If you’re on Vista or Windows 7 that’s always required admin access so I’m assuming you’re not.


      • I’m on Windows 7 Enterprise Edition (use it on my work). 4.3 can be installed without admin rights, 4.4 needs it to install. Guess I’m stuck @ 4.3 then ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Are you sure? 4.3 should definitely have asked to elevate you to an admin and if it didn’t that was a bug! Things like the Win7 logon screen functionality needs to be able to set some permissions which can only be done as an admin.

        Anyway, have a look at this post on my forum to get JBS without the installer – but note that somethings, like the Win7 logon changer, won’t work without running the installer.


  20. Thanks for your help! And I’m 100% sure that I’m running 4.3 and wasn’t prompted to enter the credentials which belongs to the admin.


  21. Thanks a lot John, I hope some big software company buys it off a few million $ and makes you the product manager with a fat paycheck ๐Ÿ™‚

    Really makes my desktop exciting.. Cheers!


  22. Just hit the donate button. Have a couple of coffees on me. Excellent piece of software.

    Well done.

    David Smith


  23. merci, gracias, thank you. I smile everytime I see my fresh desktop and thank John for his free gadget with all these wonderful features. What a marvel it is!


  24. Yes awesome software John – great for spanning single background over multiple widescreen monitors. I have it pulling backgrounds from a Flickr HD Panoramas group at work. Gets lots of comments from passers-by.

    One suggestion might be to allow adjustable image scaling per display device. I previoulsy tried two monitors – one horizontal and one vertical – was fine but couldn’t line the displays up – If I line up top to the top, the background would be out of alignment at the bottom – If I set the bottom to the bottom, the background would be out of alignment at the top. I worked out is likely the horizontal DPI on one monitor differing from the vertical DPI on the other monitor?



  25. This is the best background switcher, bar none. I have one suggestion though — how about adding support for dreamscenes, or the ability to load *.wmv files as wallpapers?


    • Unfortunately there’s no way to do either of those things so far as I can tell. Dreamscene doesn’t have a programmatic way I can say ‘use this movie for the desktop’ which means I can’t set a movie as your desktop from JBS. If I ever figure out a way I’ll definitely implement it.


  26. One of the best programs installed on my computer. Thanks so much for it!


  27. Hey John, thanks for a great piece of software! I stumbled upon your program after I used the Automatic Wallpaper changer, the trial period of which expired. Thanks again.


  28. Hi John. I spent a lot of time trying to find a background switcher and finally discovered THE background switcher -yours!! It’s excellent. Thanks for making it available to all of us. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all users when I say that we really appreciate it and your generousity in making it available for free!
    My problem was the several thousand images I had languishing in the My Pictures folder which once taken, seldom saw the light of day again. JBS has solved all that :o). My wife and I now get to see our collection randomly and often. My workstation has two monitors so I have the added bonus of working and viewing. Many thanks again.

    God bless. Les


  29. Hi John. After seeking around for some wallpaper switcher, i definitively stay with your tool. It’s light, nicely design with LOT of feature and FREE !
    Without it the tons of wallpaper store on my HD would be really unseful. Thanks for the travel through my wallpaper ๐Ÿ™‚


  30. Hi,
    I really like your app and was an addicted user when I had a PC. (Un)fortunately, I recently switched to a Macbook Air, and I’m really missing my personalized wallpaper… Have you had that summer vacation and Yorkshire you mentioned? Was it rainy enough for you to work on a Mac version of the app?
    Frankly, I hope you had a better holiday than that, but I’d be happy if that Mac version was to be released soon…
    Keep up the good work,


    • Well I’ve used a Mac at home for a few years now and have recently switched to one at work too so there are no more excuses! I did spend some time doing some work on a Mac version during my holiday and I’ll be spending a good portion of those long Winter nights building a version to release. So stay tuned!

      And thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚


  31. Wish I had read your wonderful “letters” before I asked the question I asked you a quarter of an hour or so ago on your “why I am removing John’s Background Switcher.” Now I know.
    Best to you,
    – Joe mcElwee


  32. Hi John,

    I’m using your backround switcher for several month and I found it still as enjoyable as after the first installation. I use it at work and at home. On the HTPC ist is used as a means to display the latest family photos on TV. A very, very nice and fine program! Thank you far that!

    Er… :), I hope it is not too rude to ask maybe for another _small_ enhancement? I use JBS with the snapshot collection feature, together with a grayscaled random backdrop for the pile. The backdrop however is often chosen from too low resolution, which leaves the resized, greyscaled pictures with nasty artefacts on screen. Can you find it in your heart to bring as witch like ‘use only close to or exactly desktop sized images as greyscale backdrops’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Regardless, even without it, it is a very fine program. Again let me thank you for that.

    – Dietmar


  33. Thanx & more thanks for one of the best background switchers and for free!! Donation the more so ๐Ÿ˜‰

    For my few 100 self-made HD-pics there were first 2 things I needed – never show the same pic over reboots till all are through and show them in org. resolution, both working on JBS, great!
    Next was – is it trying to take over world domination in my PC or stress by 300 annoying redundant options? Yours is not, I love it.

    One thing would make me finally happy and JBS once more winner overall:
    it should count the time a pic was shown and continue the choosen changing-period (I have 2h) after reboot or sleep mode. Too sad if after wakeup the wonderful pic always changes after 5 seconds… hmm I wonder if you understand? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, JBS is just charming!!


    • Firstly thanks for your kind words! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Next, JBS remembers when you last switched so the next time it bases the next switch time against then. So if you shut it down and come back a few hours later it’ll think it needs to switch. I’ll add an option for it to ignore time JBS isn’t running so this doesn’t happen to the list for a future version as you’re not the first person to come across this. Thanks again!


  34. Hi John – well, after maybe 20 years I’m finally at a job where my work computer is officially a Mac. It’s really weird, as I’ve always had Macs around at home and occasionally bring a laptop in to supplement my work PC, but now it’s Mac-only.

    And of course, the one thing I’m missing is a proper Desktop Switcher. Wally made a valiant attempt at it, but it just isn’t working for me and I haven’t had a chance to troubleshoot why, and the developer has not replied about adding Phanfare support.

    To learn Ruby I hacked together a script to pull down the newest photos from my Phanfare account, so at least my screensaver can have some new images (and technically Wally should be able to pull from a local directory), but it’s just not the same as having the photos on my desktop. Also, the OS X screensaver only seems to work on the “primary” display, and I miss having a pile of photos on one screen and a huge photo on other. Also, background images. I guess I’ll have to turn on auto-locking to get the proper effect. (JBS worked great when my former company’s security policy required the screen to lock.)

    Hrm, does OS X let you control the background image of a lock screen? I suspect you’ve already started digging into these issues, but if you need a beta-tester, you know who to call.

    All this is to say… Please hurry. ๐Ÿ™‚


  35. Hi John – remember 2 comments above? Now 4.5 is out but I can’t see the option, sniff… Or am I just too stupid to find? Would be really important – not only for me? Thanks again!
    ->> Iโ€™ll add an option for it to ignore time JBS isnโ€™t running so this doesnโ€™t happen to the list for a future version as youโ€™re not the first person to come across this. Thanks again!<<


    • I’ve not added that option to JBS yet I’m afraid. 4.5 only contained a couple of features and bug fixes as well as a few minor changes. I’ve not had as much time as I’d like to dedicate to JBS for some time and with it competing for time against other things I’d like to work on I can’t get to every feature suggested. Sorry about that!


  36. Hi John,
    Thanks for the switcher 4.6. I can’t wait for the Dutch 4.6 to appear.
    I came from Webshots, now Smile, but it didn’t smile at all at their new program. I was looking for an alternative and came to you. It seems to work easily. Thanks and I’ll try your program.


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