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 does Google Photos tell me it can’t find any photos?

Mid-way through the day JBS often breaches the Google Photos API limit and will stop downloading photos. I’m in the process of having the limits greatly increased by Google and just have to make some tweaks to JBS first so hold tight! In the meantime make sure to add several other photo sources to JBS to pick up the slack!

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.

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 looks for ‘Sync your settings’ and set ‘Theme’ to ‘Off’.

Why doesn’t JBS respect my multiple monitor settings on Windows 10 Creators Update?

It turns out Microsoft seems to have re-introduced an old Windows XP bug where it stops telling JBS about monitor count changes. Check “Constantly check for monitor count changes” on the “Advanced” section of “More Settings” and from the next time you switch JBS should start behaving itself again.

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!