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Best Free Wallpaper Changer

 
Introduction

After seeing the same wallpapers on the desktop for some time, most PC users would prefer a change to make it more lively, dynamic and interactive.

Some newer versions of Windows have basic settings to change wallpapers automatically, whereas earlier versions of the Windows system only allow for changing wallpapers manually. Going for a better choice with more features? Check out these free and good wallpaper changers that are reviewed and rated based on the features below:

  • User interface or ease of use.
  • Change wallpapers at time intervals set by users
  • Set position of each wallpaper
  • Synchronise wallpapers with folders
  • Auto close after changing the wallpaper to free up system resources
  • Slide show and other useful features.
 
In a Hurry?

Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

Wallpaper MasterWallpaper Master has a good user interface with many useful features. The program can be set to auto start at windows logon or auto close after 30 seconds to save system resources.

It allows you to categorize the lists of wallpapers and rate each wallpaper so that better ones are chosen more often. It's easy to add files to the list or simply monitor a directory to update the list of wallpapers.

Wallpapers can be set to change when windows starts or on certain intervals in sequential order, shuffle mode or random order according to ratings. The position of each wallpaper can be set to center, stretch, tile or resize as well.

On the downside, the program allows adding up to a maximum 5,000 images per category in the free version, but that's good enough for most average users.

 

Wallpaper Cycler LiteWallpaper Cycler Lite offers to change the wallpaper on startup with other features such as auto shutdown, timer and cycle wallpapers.

This program manages wallpapers in multi-level categories, which can be linked to folders on your hard drive to automatically detect new wallpapers. Position of the wallpapers can be set to default, center, tile, stretch to fill, stretch to height, stretch to width and stretch with or without aspect to each wallpaper in the categories.

It includes a mode to show a slide show of all your wallpapers in the categories. It can also monitor your CPU load when it wants to cycle and prevent cycling when your CPU is too busy. This free program shows some other features in the context menu but they are only enabled in the paid version. These restricted features include wallpaper layouts, tags, search folders, etc.

 

Looking for a wallpaper changer with a calendar?

MuralPix ManagerMuralPix Manager is well worth trying. It has an option to make a frame around an image as part of the wallpaper. The frame color is calculated so that it corresponds to the overall image color tone. Further, a calendar can be painted automatically to the wallpaper with various settings.

It allows you to add folders and auto detect changes of files in the folders, set time intervals of changing wallpapers, etc. The wallpapers in the folders can be used by a screen saver included in the program.

The program can be set to auto start or run in a silent mode, but auto close is not included. Its user interface is not as good as some other programs, and settings of margins and images apply to all rather than individual wallpaper files.

 

John's Background SwitcherAs an alternative, John's Background Switcher can be used to change wallpapers with optional calendars as well.

The program supports multiple monitors and features setting auto exit, time intervals, selecting images from the folders or from other online resources such as Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Facebook, etc.

Wallpapers can be set to center, stretch, scale, a thumbnail mosaic, a four-picture montage or a snapshot scrapbook. This setting applies to all but not individual wallpapers.

A picture browser is included to view images either downloaded or used in montage, but no slide show is available.

 

Looking for a cross-platform wallpaper changer?

WallyWally is a good wallpaper changer running on Win32, Linux and Mac OS X platforms. The author of the software re-uses the idea from John's Background Switcher (JBS) and fulfils the universe of wallpaper changers not covered by JBS.

The user interface looks similar to JBS, but it allows the wallpaper position to be set to centered, tiled, center tiled, centered maxpert, tiled maxpert, scaled, center auto fit or scale and crop. The setting of positions applies to all wallpapers in the folders.

The program supports features such as time intervals, selecting images from the folders or from online resources, displaying image EXIF data in system tray tool-tip, saving downloaded photos, run-time folder change detection, etc. No auto exit of the program is noted.

EvJO Wallpaper ChangerIf you don't like this restriction and prefer a simpler program, EvJO Wallpaper Changer is a good choice. It changes your wallpapers at every startup, once a day, at sunrise or sunset or other time intervals.

This program consists of several options such as, auto start, auto close, changing the wallpaper when the program starts or closes, changing the wallpaper in random order or in sequential order of the wallpapers in the list.

Position of the wallpapers can be set to auto, center, tile or stretch based on a global setting instead of individual wallpapers.

It has a clean and intuitive user interface, easy to use, and comes complete with extra features such as downloading photos from flickr, search photos by tags, text or user photos, draw a company logo or calendar on the desktop, etc. However, this program does not support synchronisation of wallpapers with folders and has no slide show feature.

 
Other Wallpaper Changers

These are other wallpaper changers which were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing them here with brief descriptions and links to the related sites for ease of reference.

  • Adolix Wallpaper Changer is a good choice if you need a changer with a built-in screen capture utility. The program comes with user friendly interface and other features such as create play lists of wallpapers, set time intervals, etc. Setting wallpaper positions applies to all files while auto close of the program is not included.
  • Wallperizer, another wallpaper changer with a calendar feature, runs directly from the executable file and will be accessible from the system tray menu. The program features an automatic process where bright pictures are made darker and dark ones made brighter. It does not come with auto frames and other options available to MuralPix Manager.
  • WallPaper Changer.de is a smaller program and worth a try. Even though its user interface is less intuitive, this program provides basic and useful features. Some other advanced features such as folders synchronisation and slide show are not included. The program can be run directly without installation.
  • Caledos Automatic Wallpaper Changer allows you to choose multiple images or folders of images for automatic change of wallpapers, center or stretch wallpapers to full screen, set courtesy background and display interval to change wallpapers every logon, few minutes, hours, or days. It has a What I Saw feature to show a list of the latest 100 wallpapers. On the down side, it does not support auto program close, synchronise wallpapers and set position of individual wallpapers.
  • Cyber-D's Wallpaper Shifter changes the wallpaper by picking a random wallpaper from a preset folder. It allows various scale modes such as automatic, crop, fit or center, with background setting by default, blur or edge repeat. Once the wallpaper is changed, the program does not remain running in the background to save system resources. Easy to use, but without support for time intervals, multiple folders, slide show, individual setting for each wallpaper, etc.
  • Any Wallpaper is another choice for a simple yet user-friendly wallpaper changer. It allows you to add multiple folders and choose a change frequency, order and wallpaper position which is applicable to all files in the folders. Auto close of the program and some other features are not included.
  • BioniX Desktop Wallpaper Changer Lite, a free wallpaper manager supporting playlists dual monitor support, and other features. But some basic settings such as, disabling the message on startup and removing the product logo over the wallpaper are only made available in the commercial version.
 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Wallpaper Master
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Low memory usage, change on start-up, change intervals (min), wallpaper position settings, wallpaper ratings and categories, wallpaper folder sync.
Some limitations apply to the free version, cannot have 2 different backgounds (dual monitors).
2.16
759 KB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95 to Vista
Wallpaper Cycler Lite
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Good user interface, auto start and close, folders synchronisation, extra features include slide shows and CPU load monitoring.
Additional features such as wallpaper layouts, tags, search folders, etc., are disabled in the context menu.
3.6.0.180
5.9 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP to 7

See the two mirror options on the download page if you wish to avoid the CNet downloader.
View the changelog here

MuralPix Manager
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Make frames around images in corresponding colors, auto calendar, auto detect changes of files, screen saver, etc.
Badly designed user interface, setting wallpaper positions applies to all, auto close not included.
http://muralpix.com/
1.07
3.0 - 10.8 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98 to XP

View the revision history here

John's Background Switcher
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Supports multiple monitors and various wallpaper positions, setting auto exit, time intervals, selecting images from local folders or other online resources, optional calendars.
A picture browser is included to view images either downloaded or used in montage, but no slide show is available.
4.7
1.9 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98 to 7 (except Starter Edition)

Access the revision information here

Wally
4.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Cross platforms, various wallpaper positions and supports features such as time intervals, choosing images from folders or online resources, displaying EXIF data, saving downloaded photos, run-time folder change detection.
No auto exit of the program is noted.
2.4.4
6.89 MB Win32 exe
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Win32, Linux and Mac OSX

View the changelog here

EvJO Wallpaper Changer
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Clean and intuitive user interface, auto start and close, extra features to download and search photos, add company logo and calendar to desktop.
Short of individual setting on position of each wallpaper. No folders synchronisation and slide show features.
3.1.0.225
6.79 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98 to 7

View changes here

 

Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Jojo Yee. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

 
Tags

wall paper, wallpaper, freeware, free wallpapers. wallpaper changers, wallpaper with calendar.

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Comments

by Anonymous on 26. December 2008 - 5:16  (12487)

Doesn't WallMaster have a 50 wallpaper limit in freeware version? Funny that you didn't mention that. Well, I did use it a few months ago, so maybe it's newer version doesn't have such limits?

by Jojo Yee on 26. December 2008 - 7:05  (12489)

Thanks for your comment. The limit is still applicable to the free version of the program under this review, which is now updated.

by Anonymous on 26. December 2008 - 13:58  (12502)

I've been using Wallpaper Changer.De for many years and find it be an excellent program. I like the fact that if you set it to change once per day on start up it does its job and quickly gets out of the way (closes w/o staying the systray to consume resources). However, lately I've been opting to manually change my WP so as to improve Windows load time by limiting the number of apps that run at start up.

by Anonymous on 26. December 2008 - 22:06  (12528)

Didn't get a reply back at Daily Tech Treats, so might as well duplicate (with little changes) on the main thread:
I don't get why would you put WallMaster, and EvJO Wallpaper Changer over WallCycler Lite. I mean, if I recall correctly there was a 50 wall limit on Wallmaster free version, and there still might be one today. As for EvJO, I've tried it out, and it is more simpler and better in a few ways, but what I really need that it doesn't have is the stretch to fill tiling in Nuonsoft. What it basically does is stretch and keep the aspect ratio, but instead of filling the blank space with plain colour, it crops out the longer sides to fit it all on the screen. Also, the synchronize feature isn't there (I'll have to manually add the folders, which contain my wallpapers separated by genre, again to update). The interface isn't as good too. Lastly, this program can't seem to support all of my walls (7035 and counting), and crashes when I make it change the wall to the next, or at some other random times. Now I can't even open it. Uninstalled, but found out that it's main process was still running, so I had to kill it, and use Revo Advanced mode.

by Jojo Yee on 27. December 2008 - 4:23  (12539)

Good comments. I have added more features needed for the programs in the Introduction Section and re-rated them based on the features.

With this, Wallpaper Cycler Lite is re-rated to be the top choice with folders synchronisation and other features.

Having said that, I rated EvJO Wallpaper Changer to be the second choice considering its overall features. If you select the position of wallpapers to auto, it will fit the wallpapers on the desktop without cropping. On my test, the program still can cope with a load of 8,000 over wallpapers with no issue.

by Jojo Yee on 27. December 2008 - 4:38  (12541)

One of the ways to speed up startup time is to delay running of some programs. WinPatrol is a free startup manager to do that. See also Best Free Startup Manager.

by Anonymous on 9. January 2009 - 8:57  (13473)

Nice list of wallpaper changers.
I suggest to have a look to Caledos Automatic Wallpaper Changer too. I used for years and I very satisfied of it. It have many useful feature like "courtesy background", "What I saw list". Check it out if you have time:-)

by Jojo Yee on 9. January 2009 - 15:50  (13490)

Updated in the article for ease of reference. Thanks.

by Anonymous on 13. March 2009 - 22:13  (17793)

Wallpaper Cycler have a overkill memory footprint (mora than 15 megs!). Look at Another Desktop (http://another-desktop.oksoft.es/), full of options and lowest memory usage (less than a meg.)

by J_L on 28. March 2009 - 2:25  (18714)

Get CleanMem, you'll be surprised.

by rKAnjEL on 30. March 2009 - 8:39  (18904)

I'ms surprised nobody mentioned MuralPix, it's an excellent wallpaper changer with interesting features (frame around images, automatic clipping and scaling, calendar...etc) and of course it's FREE, I been using it for quite some time now and I never had any problems. It works well on XP/Vista.

Website: http://muralpix.com

by Anonymous on 30. March 2009 - 21:20  (18951)

Hi, nice site, come here all the time, never post, because no need to, except to maybe say that this is a great site.

Anyway, just like to mention wallpaper master which I've been using for a very long time and never even considered looking for something else.

I just happened to read this and thought it would be here.

Maybe what you got is better. I might try it later, if I get time.

Anyway, this works for me quite well and thought you might like to have a look. http://jamesgart.com/wallpaperchanger/

by Jojo Yee on 31. March 2009 - 14:57  (18989)

Thanks for the feedback. Wallpaper Master is one of the top products. Good choice.

by Jojo Yee on 31. March 2009 - 14:58  (18990)

Many thanks. I'll follow your link.

by rKAnjEL on 3. April 2009 - 1:01  (19163)

You're welcomed. I'm glad that you added MuralPix to the list.

Regarding its GUI, it's true that's a bit simplistic but it's clear and non-confusing so I don't consider it a flaw or a drawback.

There's also its speed, since it uses a somewhat unique method it can load a folder containing like a couple of thousand photos in a matter of seconds (not exaggerating), while smiliar applications might crash or freeze from that number.

In any case, given the unique features and amazing speed of MuralPix I'd give it 4.5/5, but that's just my opinion :)

~Yaser

by rKAnjEL on 3. April 2009 - 14:34  (19206)

I'd also like to suggest Adolix Wallpaper Changer, I still perfer MuralPix but still it's a decent program, it also has a built-in screen capture tool.

http://www.adolix.com/wallpaper-changer/

~Yaser

by Jojo Yee on 4. April 2009 - 5:00  (19246)

Hi Yaser, your comments are valuable. MuralPix is outstanding for its features such as auto frames and calendar. I personally like these features which I don't find them in other programs, even though this program lacks some other features listed in the Introduction.

by Jojo Yee on 4. April 2009 - 5:06  (19247)

Thanks Yaser again for suggesting another free and decent program. I'd also prefer MuralPix between this and Adolix Wallpaper Changer. But it could be a good choice for some who like 2-in-1 with a screen capture utility bundled :>)

Added in the list for ease of reference.

by Anonymous on 10. April 2009 - 2:36  (19603)

Too bad it's not in english.

by Anonymous on 5. May 2009 - 3:39  (21068)

Fun desktop wallpaper changer.
http://fundesktop.com/

by Anonymous on 5. May 2009 - 7:37  (21072)

Any Wallpaper from http://www.anyutils.com/ might be worth a look.

by Anonymous on 6. May 2009 - 2:48  (21107)

Great selection, but as with a lot of guides at this site, I can't help but think that best should = the best implementation of software, with emphasis on simplicity, that best fits the need of the average user.

In this case I think 90%+ of users will have their needs met by Cyber-D's Wallpaper Shifter, which really should be the No.1 choice here, based on the criteria I've highlighted above. You can leave it in your quick launch and click when you want a change. If this is too much effort then simply schedule it as a task. Easy, lightweight and effective.

Too many of these articles focus on getting the most bang for your (non existent) buck, empathising programs with the most features, whilst ignoring what the majority of users are actually looking for. Life is complicated enough for most of us. :-)

by Bob on 6. May 2009 - 6:06  (21120)

Just my 2c: We have to review for people with different needs, habits or personal preferences. So we often need to make several recommendations. And it's sometimes difficult to pick a single 'top pick'. Which to choose - The simplest and neatest? Or the most powerful?

by Jojo Yee on 6. May 2009 - 13:40  (21138)

A simple and yet user friendly wallpaper changer. Thanks for the link.

by Jojo Yee on 6. May 2009 - 13:59  (21140)

Thanks for the great idea. User friendly or ease of use of the programs does form part of the factors being considered in the review.

It's true that we can have multiple top picks to suit certain category of users, just like the ones awarded in BF Digital Image Editor. As for wallpaper changers, I view them as a rather simple utility with a real basic function -- to auto change wallpapers -- which most of the programs here are able to provide, but it's a bonus to the programs if they provide additional useful features without sacrificing good user interface or ease of use of the software.

by MCHAL on 6. May 2009 - 14:14  (21142)

Check out Wallperizer at: http://www.gardenerofthoughts.org/ideas/wallperizer/ . Really worth a look.

aLL tHe BeSt frOM bRaZiL ;)

by Anonymous on 26. May 2009 - 18:13  (22381)

which one of these has the smallest cpu usage? I want to use it on an eeepc running xp, so performance becomes much more important than features.

by Anonymous on 26. May 2009 - 18:17  (22382)

(same poster as above)
by the way, all I need is for the program to change wallpaper on startup and then gtfo.

by Anonymous on 27. May 2009 - 3:43  (22421)

I'd use anyone of them with auto-close (a good feature) after changing wallpaper. cpu usage =0 after close.

by Anonymous on 7. June 2009 - 21:58  (23280)

I would like to add wylik wallpaper manager.

Even though I found it has a bug on vista (the start with windows check box is denied by the my security setting without popup -- an easy bypass is to add it to auto start manually by winpatrol or any other startup controller), the real advantage against many others lies in that the fitting method is much smarter. Many programs simple stretch/center an image to fill in the screen with either distorted image or leave margins, wylik overcomes that.

Other features:
regular interval based changed.
on program start change.
program exit after change.
setting the time out before program exit.
configurable calendar.
...
The effect takes to all images (maybe this can save some space?) Can not auto sync images, can not automatic acquire image from internet. Residential mode take about 11M. For me, these features doesn't matter that much.