John’s Background Switcher Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most commonly asked questions about John’s Background Switcher for Windows. Click each to see the answer!


Why do I see “Failed to switch the background: A generic error occurred in GDI+” on Windows 10?

Sometimes you’ll see this error when switching if you have Windows configured to sync your theme between PCs. Since this process often locks the wallpaper JBS is trying to change it means JBS is stuck and the GDI+ error comes up. The simplest fix is to go to your PCs settings and in the ‘Account’ section look for ‘Sync your settings’ and set ‘Theme’ to ‘Off’.

If that doesn’t resolve your problem it’s most likely another application that is locking the wallpaper image JBS has created. If you click ‘Open Folder’ on the ‘Import / Export’ section of ‘More Settings’ you’ll see a file called ‘ActiveBackground.jpg’. If you try to delete it and you’re prevented from doing so by Windows, that’s the problem (JBS can’t either and the lower level image handling code throws the GDI+ error). You can figure out what application is locking the file by installing Process Explorer and once installed doing a search for ‘ActiveBackground.jpg’ to see what application is holding a lock on it.

If you’re running an ASOS laptop then have a look for a process called ‘AsusOLEDShifter.exe’ – if you see it, kill it and see if that helps. If it does you won’t be the first! 😉

Why are my multiple monitor wallpapers cut off or now laid out correctly?

There are a couple of options in JBS to handle wallpapers being cut off of shown in the wrong order on multiple monitors you can try. In the ‘Advanced’ section of ‘More Settings’ there are ‘Work around multiple monitors being shown in the wrong order’ and ‘Constantly check for monitor count changes’ – the former does what you think it does so try enabling it, then switching JBS, or disabling it and switching to see what happens. The latter handles monitors being added and removed and JBS not detecting them.

Finally, Windows may simply be lying to JBS about the number and orientation of multiple monitors attached. Go to the standard Windows display preferences, select your non-primary monitor(s) and click ‘Identify’, return to your primary monitor and if there’s an ‘Apply’ button now enabled, click it. This should force Windows to get back in sync again and hopefully allow JBS to switch properly

Why do Norton / Symantec complain about the latest version of JBS?

Virus scanners tend to err on the side of caution with new software and so false positives are pretty common, which is the case here. Report it to Norton / Symantec as a false positive and I would expect them to further scan JBS and find out that it’s free of malware so should be allowed once the virus patterns update. No other virus scanners are currently marking JBS as suspect and I’m 100% confident if you downloaded the installer from me then it’s clean.

Why does the screen flicker or my cursor jump around whenever JBS changes the background?

It turns out that if right-click on your desktop and choose “Personalise”, then go to the “Colours” section and uncheck “Automatically pick an accent colour from my background” the problem may go away. If it doesn’t, let me know!

Why does the focus jump from one app when the background switches?

This is a pretty rare bug and used to effect Windows XP more than others. Basically JBS tells Windows to change the wallpaper and then during that process the focus switches away from the app you’re currently using. I used to recommend updating your graphics driver as that generally did the trick but these days it can just as easily be another app interfering with JBS (I’m looking at you Lotus Notes). If you try another background switcher and the problem goes away then let me know – but usually the problem tends to effect any switcher you use.

Do I need to uninstall JBS before installing a new version?

No you don’t! You can run the JBS installer over the top of your existing version and it’ll preserve all your settings and carry on seamlessly like before.

Why doesn’t JBS support Google or Bing Image Search any more?

Several years ago Google deprecated their free image search API but kindly left it running. Since it’s about to be switched off and its performance and reliability has greatly reduced over the years I decided to remove it from JBS completely. Since JBS is freeware I certainly can’t afford to pay for all JBS users to use it. Bing went the same way, when the free version was deprecated Microsoft simply switched it off.

Why do I keep seeing the same pictures again and again?

JBS chooses photos randomly from the photo sources you’ve given it and so it is quite possible you’ll see some pictures more often than others – that’s the nature of random selection. One thing to be mindful of is the human brain’s capacity to infer a pattern when there isn’t one – that and other cognitive biases are detailed here (it makes for interesting reading).

Can JBS loop sequentially through my pictures in a specific order?

I’m afraid it can’t. It used to in the distant past, but it became too confusing when web-based sources came in. It would mean each picture source behaved differently. If you need sequential switching then JBS is not the application for you – it’s all about random photos from a variety of sources.

Why doesn’t JBS support every RSS feed on the internet?

Unfortunately it can only handle RSS feeds formatted in such a way that it can get enough picture information from it. MediaRSS is the preference but it can handle some others that do embed enough information for it to parse.

Can JBS support the XYZ photo site?

The answer is it depends. If the site in question has a public API then I’d be happy to add it as a source. However if it doesn’t be aware that a lot of photo sites generate their revenue from people going there and seeing ads on them. If a 3rd party tool like JBS comes along and gets those pictures without people browsing to the site then they lose out on a lot of revenue. So I’ll only add support if the owners have provided an API and so are happy for 3rd party applications to consume their content. Otherwise I’m afraid the answer is no.

Can I tie a specific picture mode or photo set on a specific monitor?

Currently I’m afraid you can’t. But it’s on my list!

Can JBS be run as a screensaver?

It can’t as far as I’m aware. I’d love to build one but my limited free time means it’s unlikely for the foreseeable future.

I see JBS no longer works on Windows XP, do you have an older version I can install?

No, I’m afraid I can only support one version of JBS at a time. If you’re running Windows XP then you need to update your operating system or find another background switcher. Good luck!