If you find yourself changing your wallpaper often as a way to enliven the desktop and make it feel more dynamic, you can make use of an automatic wallpaper changer. These programs allow you to preselect a bunch of images and have them automatically rotate as your desktop wallpaper. Let’s check out some of the best wallpaper changers for Linux.
1. Native Wallpaper Changing Feature in Your Desktop
Instead of using a third-party application to change your wallpaper, maybe the desktop environment of your choice offers such an option, hidden somewhere in its preferences, or through an extra plug-in (like in KDE’s plasma desktop).
Desktop environments like Gnome, XFCE and Cinnamon come with a native wallpaper-changing feature, and they work well despite only offering a basic functionality.
In KDE and Gnome, you can also install plug-ins or an extension to extend the wallpaper-changing feature. In KDE, apart from typical “image rotator” plug-ins, you can also find plug-ins that present animated or dynamic wallpapers that blur the wallpaper whenever there’s an active window, etc.
One of the most feature-rich programs of its kind, Wallch is one of the best automatic wallpaper changers ever released for any Linux desktop environment. Out of the box, Wallch works without hitches on Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, and Mate.
To install it, find it on the Software Center/Package Manager of your Linux distribution and click on the “Install” button. Alternatively, in Ubuntu-based distribution, use the following command to install it from the terminal:
When you run it, Wallch will present any images it locates and allow you to choose some of them to use as wallpapers. You can either do so immediately by keeping Ctrl pressed and left-clicking on some of them to select them or point the program to a different location where you keep more images with a click on the “Browse” button next to the “Pictures location” pull-down menu.
To start the automatic rotation of your desktop wallpaper, click on the “Start” button at the bottom-left of Wallch’s main window, while still in the “Wallpapers” section. You can use the buttons next to it to stop the automatic swapping of wallpapers or move back and forth between the ones you selected, as well as define how long each one will stay active by changing the “Interval” value.
Wallch also offers some extra modes that can, for example, show a live map of Earth as the desktop background, a clock, a “Picture Of The Day,” or a live website. All settings in those sections are pretty straightforward, but we think “plain” wallpapers are better as far as aesthetics go.
As feature-rich as Wallch is, in different ways Variety can also change your wallpaper based on a schedule, using either some images you choose or by automatically downloading new ones from online sources.
To install it, either find it in the Software Center/Package Manager and follow the typical click-install-and-wait steps, or use the following command to install it from the terminal:
When you run it for the first time, Variety will display a simple-to-follow setup wizard. Among the steps presented, it will also inform you how it has to track some statistics for images pulled from online sources. Unfortunately, there’s no option to disable the feature and continue: you mush either reject and abstain from using the application or accept the tracking to use Variety. This might raise some red flags among the most security-conscious among us.
Variety allows you to choose the “Sources” where it looks for images, tweaks the default images or adds more (folders with pictures) to the list, define when the wallpaper will change, and set up automatic downloading of new images.
The primary differentiating feature of Variety is the filters it provides, which can drastically change any image’s looks. You can make a selfie look like an oil painting or a game screenshot look like a pencil sketch.
In the same “Effects” section of the program’s settings, you’ll also find options for displaying random quotes on the desktop (and you can also choose their sources and “filter down” the results based on tags or authors), as well as display a beautiful, big, digital clock.
Shotwell, as you might know, happens to be one of the best open-source tools for managing photos. You might already have it installed in your Linux PC, but if you don’t, you can both find it in the Software Center/Package Manager and in the terminal:
Although it’s not an actual wallpaper changer, Shotwell can act as one. You only have to select in its interface the pictures you want as wallpapers on your desktop, “point it” to their folder (you can use “File -> Import from Folder …” to load a bunch of images in it with one click), keep Ctrl pressed, and left-click on the ones you like. Then, choose “File -> Set as Desktop Slideshow …”
After that, choose how long each image will be displayed.
Bingwall is not a wallpaper changer but a closely-related application. It’s actually a wallpaper downloader. With it, you can pull wallpapers from Bing’s images of the day collection. Just like the rest of the applications in our list, you will find it in your Software Center/Package Manager.
To install it through the terminal, though, you will have to use
snap instead of apt. The command you have to use is almost identical:
There’s not much to say about its actual use since it is the simplest application in our mini collection. After you install it, run it, check out the images it presents, and choose the one you would like to use as a wallpaper.
There is no automatic image rotation, but you can use it to download new wallpapers to use in place of the active wallpaper whenever you fancy.
Alternatively, you can also check out Bing Desktop Wallpaper Changer, though it hasn’t been updated the last few years, and we have not tested it this time round.
The Other Guys
The above-listed wallpaper changers are the ones we have tested that performed well. There are many more we left out because they didn’t perform as expected in our testing.
Some refused to change the wallpaper. Others presented snap permission problems that kept popping up no matter what we did.
In other words, you may find better programs out there, but the ones on our list have been proven to do what they promise without much fuss. They are tried, tested, and can help your desktop feel fresh every day.
Are you already using such a wallpaper changer for Linux? If yes, which one, and what made you choose it over the others?