Windows 7 not only can make a wallpaper slide show from images on your computer, it can even pull them from an RSS feed


Buried in the theme file documentation is a section called [Slideshow] which lets you control the source for images that are used when you put the desktop wallpaper in slideshow mode. And a bonus feature hidden in the [Slideshow] section is the ability to draw the images from an RSS feed. After creating the .theme file, double-click it and it will be added to the list of available themes.

One thing about the RSS feed is that when you first set it up, it'll probably take a while for the initial images to download. You don't get any feedback that the images are still downloading; they just show up once they're ready. So don't freak out.

Well, okay, if the images have already downloaded and you still don't see them, then maybe you can freak out. (Did you remember to select the theme after you added it to the list of available themes?)

Comments (29)
  1. Henke37 says:

    This one probably didn't go through the -100 points filter.

  2. NB says:

    Which one? The slideshow or the slideshow supporting an RSS source?

    Never tried the latter, but the first is quite good, and I wouldn't want to be without it.

  3. Alex Grigoriev says:

    @Henke:

    Some features seem to start from +500 points. Maybe that should be called Big (Marketing) Boss Handicap. Thankfully they eventually die in the next Windows (You have unused icons, don't you?), but nobody ever dares to remove them before that, even after three service packs.

  4. dalek says:

    I like the slideshow as well. I love it! Spacecraft and galaxies and astronauts flying over my desktop every 30 seconds. However when I play a movie (whether in Media Player or VLC) the movie display stutters due to the desktop background transition (even in full screen). I havent been able to find out if this is due to my graphics processor not being powerfule enough (nVidia 8400GS). It would be nice if there were an API or COM interface to pause and restart the background theme slideshow, but I've been looking on MSDN for that and even investigated all exported functions from all dlls in the system32 directory to see if there was something resembling "PauseDesktopSlideshow" (or even something with just "SlideShow" in it), but to no avail.

    I dont't want to change the theme (since this is a user preference), I just want to pause the slideshow (if enabled) when playing back videos, and restart at the end of playback. So now I've been thinkin about creating an ASP application on the local IIS that provides an RSS feed of the images, and instructing that application to pause or resume the feed. But it seems to me this is a bit over the top :)

  5. Maurits says:

    Mrs. Roberts would have a field day with this.

    http://www.xkcd.com/341/

  6. James Schend says:

    So… has anybody already made any cool RSS-based slideshows? I'd like to see some .theme files shared, if you have them.

  7. Ronnie (Z-Man) Barzell says:

    This is my RSS slide show, and it freaks me out!

  8. Windows7Fan says:

    You can see an example of this in the "Bing Dynamic" theme on the official MS Windows 7 Themes site – looks cool!

  9. SadButMadLad says:

    What's the point? I hardly ever see my wallpaper except when starting up or just before I switch my PC off after closing all open programs.

  10. Marquess says:

    Now if only Windows could learn to scale the background for each screen individually instead of using the same size for all …

  11. DWalker59 says:

    Themes are the only things I have ever seen where you can have several of them with the same name.  You can save multiple themes, each called "My theme" for example, and they can all have different settings.  Very confusing.

  12. Mark says:

    Ahahahhahahaa wat?  An API for a screensaver?  Wow.

  13. Mark says:

    (That was aimed at Dalek.)  And by screensaver, I mean wallpaper.

  14. David Matthew says:

    Of course, you would have to be careful who you gave the proverbial keys to your desktop wallpaper to. Never know when someone's going to drop a goatse into their feed, after all.

    (Don't Google that phrase.)

  15. santosh says:

    @Dalek,

    I am not sure if this works but give it a try: Open a folder (or any other simple app like notepad), maximize it and then play the movie.

    I am just guessing that when window comes out of full screen, it needs an image to show; but since image is dynamic it needs to redraw that after every wallpaper change. With a folder open, background image when window comes out of full screen is static.

  16. Ed. says:

    Caution: Not available in Home Basic edition!

  17. subman says:

    Another reason you might not see the images even after they have downloaded is that the slideshow doesn't work if the RSS feed URL is longer than 120 characters. I discovered this while making this Flickr/Yahoo Pipes landscapes theme –  dl.dropbox.com/…/Pipes%20Flickr%20Landscapes.theme – I had to use a URL shortening service to get it to work.

  18. Truus Waelbers says:

    The downloaded RSS files are stored (on windows 7) in C:Users<username>AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesEnclosure<guid>. You can also use Internet Explorer to find the location — start IE, go to Favorites, select Feeds, right-click on the correct feed, select Properties and click on 'View Files'

    An alternative method to use a slideshow as screensaver is the following:

    * Using IE, subscribe to an RSS feed

    * Favorites/Feeds, right-click correct feed, Properties

      – Tick Automatically download attached files

      – Click View Files

        x Copy full folder name

    * Right-click on desktop, Personalize

      – Desktop Background

        x Picture location, browse…

          + Paste folder name, click OK

        x Save changes

    And voilá, your background will now use the RSS feed!

  19. Truus Waelbers says:

    The downloaded files from the RSS feed are stored (on windows 7) in C:Users<username>AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsTemporary Internet FilesEnclosure<guid>. You can also use Internet Explorer to find the location — start IE, go to Favorites, select Feeds, right-click on the correct feed, select Properties and click on 'View Files'

    An alternative method to use a slideshow as screensaver is the following:

    * Using IE, subscribe to an RSS feed

    * Favorites/Feeds, right-click correct feed, Properties

      – Tick Automatically download attached files

      – Click View Files

        x Copy full folder name

    * Right-click on desktop, Personalize

      – Desktop Background

        x Picture location, browse…

          + Paste folder name, click OK

        x Save changes

    And voilá, your background will now use the RSS feed!

  20. Danny says:

    Now I get it why 7 needs 1GB RAM vs XP who needs 100MB only – is because crappy ideas were built it. If I ever need a slide-show screen-saver on XP I would simply get one or write one, now 7 is shoving down our throat these idiotic things. Way to go Micro$oft.  

  21. Troll says:

    And MS have done a great job of not exposing it in the UI. When will MS get over the obsession of hiding things? If you put it, put it with a proper GUI.

    [No matter where you put an advanced setting, somebody will tell you that you are an idiot. -Raymond]
  22. Duke of New York says:

    When Windows 7 goes to sleep, it dreams of Active Desktop.

  23. Henke37 says:

    I actually used active desktop. Such a pity that the project got such a bad reputation. Buy hey, blame marketing for forcing it onto users.

  24. Henke37 says:

    I actually used active desktop. Such a pity that the project got such a bad reputation. Buy hey, blame marketing for forcing it onto users. They probably got some nice bonuses.

  25. Maurits says:

    I was having trouble coming up with decent RSS feeds of high-quality images.  Then I figured out that Yahoo! image search exposes an RSS interface.  For example, to get wallpaper images of banded armadillos, specify a shortened form of this URL:

    search.yahooapis.com/…/imageSearch.xml

  26. Maurits says:

    Gee thanks, Community Server.  Now I get to play "how can I sabotage this feature that undoes what I was really trying to accomplish…"

    http:// search.yahooapis.com/ImageSearchService/rss/imageSearch.xml?appid=yahoosearchimagerss&imgsz=wallpaper&query=%22banded%20armadillo%22

    [The URL is still there in the original article; it just gets shrunk for display but the hyperlink is complete. -Raymond]
  27. Maurits says:

    Yeah, I know… I can right-click the (visually) shortened link and choose "copy hyperlink", but I wanted the entire URL to be visible (in particular the imgsz and query parameters) for clarity.

  28. Troll says:

    I am not nitpicking about the lack or presence of a setting but a simple GUI would have made a world of difference. Especially because the pre-beta of Windows 7 had one or looked like it was going to have one.

  29. Shell fanboy says:

    You took away DreamScene from us and gave us slideshow and RSS feeds? Wallpaper slideshow was long available as XP PowerToy with far more configurable options. Give DreamScene back to users.

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