SwitchPic, a US$5 shareware utility by Joe Howard, is the perfect tool for changing Desktop Pictures under Mac OS X 10.1 or greater. It returns all the Desktop Picture changing features found under Mac OS 9 and adds some more to boot.
On the left hand side of the Collection Pane, there is a panel that displays the Desktop Picture Collections you have installed. These are similar in concept to Playlists found in Apple’s iTunes application – You group a collection of similar graphics that SwitchPic then chooses from to display as the Desktop Picture.
By default, there are 7 collections “pre-installed” – They are from the Apple’s Screen Saver modules.
You can easily add you own collections by clicking on the “+” button at the bottom of the Collections, which will called Untitled Collection. Double click on the Untitled Collection to rename it. Now you can open a folder containing images in the Finder and just drag and drop them into the right hand box.
After a few seconds, you’ll have a list of the images in the Collection, along with a preview.
You can temporally disable images from been selected as a Desktop Picture by un-checking the box next to the preview.
For your favourite pictures you can set the priority to “Higher” or “Highest” so that they are more likely to appear during automatic changing of the desktop picture and drop the priority to “Lower” or “Lowest” to reduce the chance of the image appearing. The placement of a picture determines the position of individual pictures on the desktop, whether they are stretched, cropped, tiled, or centered.
Back under the list of Collections and next to the Add button, there is another button that will have one of two icons depending on the mode selected. By default, it has two arrows which cross over one another in a “X” shape. This means SwitchPic will randomly select images from your collection. The other mode is selected by clicking on the button so it shows two parallel arrows which means it is sequential mode and will display the images in the order they appear in the collection.
The Preferences Panel enables you to configure options like how often the image is changed and if you have multiple monitors whether the same or different images are displayed on each monitor
Rotate Desktop picture every…
No, this option doesn’t turn the image around on screen.
Rather, it changes the Desktop Picture displayed. This can be set as low as every minute or as often as once every 999 days. Alternatively, you can set it to change the Desktop Picture every time you login (this includes after a reboot for startup).
Currently, I have mine set to change every hour, but will probably change that back to once a day, as it does become a bit annoying at times.
Show SwitchPic Menu in Menu Bar
This option provides a quick and easy to access the SwitchPic System Preference by adding an icon to the menu bar just like the Monitors or Volume controls, however its’ most useful feature is to change the Desktop Picture with one mouse click.
You can also change the “Collection” of images used to select the Desktop Picture from when it changes.
Show Pictures previews in collection browser
This option enables or disables the “thumb-nail” previews of each image when shown in the Collections section. Disabling this option can speed up scrolling through your collections, particularly if you have a large number of images in your collections.
Multiple Monitor Settings
If you have two or monitors connected to your Macintosh, then you can decide if you want to the same image displayed on both monitors or if each monitor gets its’ own image.
While I rate SwitchPic an 8 out 10 for simplicity and ease of use while providing an extraordinary amount of functionality, there are still a couple of minor enhancements I’d still like to see added in future releases.
As I run multiple monitors on my machines, the first I’d like are options under the SwitchPic Menu to just change the picture on one monitor.
The next also relates to a multiple monitor setup and this to have separate timings for each monitor. eg; Monitor 1 changes, then say 30 minutes later Monitor 2 changes its’ image and then 30 minutes later Monitor 1 changes its’ image again.
But apart from these suggestions, SwitchPic is an excellent utility that I believe all Mac OS X users should invest in.
I rate SwitchPic an 8 out 10 for simplicity and ease of use while providing an extraordinary amount of functionality
Where to get SwitchPic
The SwitchPic installer is a one megabyte download and can be obtained directly from the SwitchPic website.
SwitchPic requires Mac OS X 10.1 or greater.
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