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Aug 16

Desktoptopia

2007 at 05.08 pm posted by Veerle Pieters

I don’t know about you, but I always loved the fact that I can customize my Mac easily. I am talking about changing icons and desktop backgrounds and even themes from time to time with help from ShapeShifter. Today I want to focus on the desktop aspect. There is so much choice out there that it can become a struggle to find high quality looking desktop backgrounds.

Help is on its way

Luckily for us there is some help out there in the form of a desktop background manager. In the interest of fairness I need to mention I've received a serial number to test this out. However, my main principles are still the same as always, if I don't like it I don't write about it.

Desktoptopia

So if you are on a Mac and you really don't want to be bothered with switching to a new desktop and taking the time to pick the right one, than Desktoptopia will help you out. Desktoptopia will choose them for you and update the desktop by your preferred time interval. The desktops in the pool come from designers in almost every field and have to pass a panel of reviewers first before being added. So they are not just any desktops, quality is important. The application has also a rating system built in that works together with the website.

Is it any good?

I've been testing this tool for a few days now and I must say I like it. Most desktops are really nice. You can see the designer or creator of the desktop in the dropdown menu and if you release your mouse on the name you go to the related website. Some desktops are less my taste, but then again 'my taste' is not the same as anyone else's taste. So it's obvious that you're not going to like all desktops, tastes differ. Though I must say, as good as all of them are of good quality in terms of design, creativity, originality, concept, colors and composition etc. So far I've only rated a few 2 stars and none of them 1 star really. A few have passed already where I rated 5 stars. If you really love the one that is currently loaded, you can always choose to pause the update interval and keep it longer on your desktop.

A few examples

Example of desktop of Monica Calvo

Desktop by Indeepop

Desktop by Chris Iwanowski

Desktop by Joey

You can also go to the previous or next desktop. One downside, and I'm not sure whether this is a small bug yes or no, is that you can't rate the next or previous desktop. The rating stays fixed on the desktop that was loaded right before you've chosen next or previous, so it's not clear if it works or not. Would be better if it was dimmed out if you have already voted on that one.

Resolution

Also some, but only a very few, have a bit of a blurred quality on my 30 inch screen. I assume that not all of the desktops are perfectly optimized for my resolution (which is 2560 x 1600). That's probably because the person in question ignored the preferred 2560px x 1600px upload size.

Conclusion

Apart from these 2 minor remarks I really love it. I always have a hard time picking a new desktop. I just can't choose sometimes or have the feeling that I have already looked at it before and I want something new. I know there are other choices, even free ones. However, this app is offering convenience so you don't have to go hunt these wallpapers down yourself, which can be very time consuming if you set your quality standards high. This is just perfect and it's very inspiring as well. There is a 10 day free trial.

Half price

Readers of my blog can use a coupon code that drops the normally $20 shareware application down to just $10 until August 24th. Enter "duoh" at checkout and you'll be enjoying some new eyecandy in no time.


31served

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permalink this comment alexak Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 06.25 pm

Seems interesting- however, I personally find anything but a grey desktop distracting when working. Well, to each their own! :)


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permalink this comment jennifer Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07.00 pm

yea, it seems that most of the themes would be too distracting while designing. Some seem fairly clean and simple though and it is nice to change things up every once in awhile!


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permalink this comment Olav Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07.32 pm

Great stuff, thanks for the tip. If only there was a way to save desktops for later use when they appear on your screen, it would be perfect. :)


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permalink this comment Jeff Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07.36 pm

I installed this last week and wasn’t able to get it working due to a bug from having dual-monitors. They fixed the problem over the weekend and I ended up purchasing a license. It’s a nice little app!


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permalink this comment Lisa Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 07.43 pm

veerle: you always bring us such interesting stuff. Thanks once again.

alexak: I’m with you about wanting something not too distracting. I make my own desktop “blotters” with defined areas for folder icons and sticky notes, so that my desktop functions as an organizational tool.


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permalink this comment erephas Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 08.18 pm

Great application, although I find the default Apple images good too, as well as random change thingie.

You can’t save the desktop background you like, too.

All in all, I’ll try a trial and see how it fits my taste.

Thanks for the coupon ;).


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permalink this comment Paul M. Watson Thu Aug 16, 2007 at 10.43 pm

Veerle, thank you. Another great little Mac app.


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permalink this comment Eddie Welker Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 06.20 am

Do you still have the info for the last photo of the dolphins swimming on the ribbon?  I’d like to find out more about that… and I’m trapped on a PC right now!

Thanks,

-e


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permalink this comment savv3 Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08.22 am

www.pixelgirlpresents.com is another great site for great desktops. Although they don’t offer automatic changing…


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permalink this comment Kenneth Sundqvist Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 09.34 am

I can customize my Mac easily

Yeah, with a third-party application (that you have to pay for?)
Quite freaking weak if you ask me. Surely Apple has to keep its branding strong and get it out there, but this is just a part in the Apple lock-in that I dislike so very much and is keeping me from Apples products.

I want a system that encourages me to use it my way (and so I use Linux (Ubuntu with Gnome))

Trolling over.

Still good that you post these helping articles, which I encourage you to keep doing. And that first wallpaper of the examples is just golden!


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permalink this comment Paul M. Watson Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 11.03 am

Not to pollute Veerle’s blog with troll replies but “lock in” through “3rd party apps” is hilarious. Nice one Kenneth.


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permalink this comment Veerle Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 11.08 am

Eddie Welker said:

Do you still have the info for the last photo of the dolphins swimming on the ribbon?

Not sure what you are talking about as I don’t see any dolphins swimming on the ribbon. The only with fish in it is called “Reality” by Mariano.

Kenneth Sundqvist said:

Yeah, with a third-party application (that you have to pay for?)
Quite freaking weak if you ask me.

I suggest you re-read what I said, I only use that third-party application rarely because when push comes to showel the default look always feels right after a time. I was talking about desktops and icons and FYI when I last looked I have 8578 icons in my collection that didn’t cost a thing.


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permalink this comment Kenneth Sundqvist Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 12.24 pm

the default look always feels right after a time. I was talking about desktops and icons and FYI when I last looked I have 8578 icons in my collection that didn’t cost a thing.

It’s great that you like what Apple gives you, and very fortunate since Apple does not provide easy customization themselves, which is what my point is. I’m not bad mouthing you nor these tools, but Apple, for putting their Branding before their Users.

Even though you do like the default design, which I also do, wouldn’t you like Apple to give you the option to chose for yourself?

They could have an attitude like this; “Hey, Veele, we hope you like the shipping design, but if you don’t, or want a change, we’ve included this easy and ready to use tool to make things look how you want them to.” Now it’s like; “Sorry, we can’t have it so that when people look over your shoulder or on television they won’t recognize that you run OS X without hesitation.”

There are many, many free resources out there for the Mac — icons, themes, widgets, and more — I know. But Apple does not endorse the themes, at least. They don’t lock it down completely — because they know that would hurt them — but they make sure that you have to be more than a moderate user to get this third-party application, and thus ensuring that the OS X look is seen far and wide, on the expense of plenty of user who could get more enjoyment out of their Macs.

That’s my problem; Apple not stepping up and providing the tools themselves.

Yes they’re a business, but you can make a branding out of letting users have it their way, as well.

“lock in” through “3rd party apps” is hilarious. Nice one Kenneth.

You did clearly not understand my comment and concern; that Apple does not allow (read: provide the tools) for you to change themes in OS X, thus locking you to the default theme. Apple does the lock-in, third-party apps liberates, but it’s sad that they even have to exist to begin with.

Hopefully I’m understood this time around, and we can get back to enjoying these tools and artwork.


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permalink this comment Leonie Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 12.46 pm

Veerle, by ‘dolphins swimming on a ribbon’ I think Eddie Welker is talking about the last desktop in your previews.

If you have any more info on the artist then please post, as I’d also be interested to know.


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permalink this comment Andreas Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 12.54 pm

Thanks a bunch Veerle!
I looked at it last week, but when I saw the price, I didn’t even bother to try it out. Now however… already bought the license, and loving it! Hope you get a small referral fee ;)

Shareware is nice in the sense that you get to try it out first, with Desktoptopia however, I knew before I tried it that I would like it. It was just that $20 seemed a bit steep for what it does. $10 is definitely worth it however!


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permalink this comment adel ouhmid Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 03.28 pm

Eddie Welker said:

Do you still have the info for the last photo of the dolphins swimming on the ribbon?

I guess you’re talking about color waves, last one in your examples. Which is currently the top rated desktop in the gallery.


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permalink this comment Mike Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 04.00 pm

It’s very beautifully.


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permalink this comment Veerle Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 04.35 pm

Eddie Welker said:

Do you still have the info for the last photo of the dolphins swimming on the ribbon?  I’d like to find out more about that…

Oh I see now. Guess I was blinded by the beautiful colors of that one and didn’t notice the dolphins :) If I look on Desktoptopia, I see that Joey entered this background. That’s all I know I’m afraid.


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permalink this comment Frederic Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 07.26 pm

I’m a little disturbed by the fact that they charge people while the backgrounds used in this little app were given to them for free. I Guess it wouldn’t bother me if they’d put the full screen wallpapers up for download.


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permalink this comment Paul M. Watson Fri Aug 17, 2007 at 08.11 pm

Frederic, the app links back to the person who submitted the wallpaper currently dispalying on your desktop. People are free not to submit their wallpapers.


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permalink this comment zeb Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 03.57 pm

Some nice and cool backgrounds out there. Would love to try this out if we have this available for windows.


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permalink this comment Unexpected Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 04.19 pm

Anyone knows an alternative like this for Windows? Would be great :-)


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permalink this comment Alex Sat Aug 18, 2007 at 04.50 pm

Great stuff! Too bad there isn’t a pc version ...


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permalink this comment kristarella Sun Aug 19, 2007 at 07.05 am

Interesting. Looks like some good quality backgrounds.

When I see desktop backgrounds that I like on deviantART or Pixelgirl Presents I save them in a folder called Desktops then I can switch when I like. I could also use the built in feature that randomly changes the background. Although, most dA backgrounds won’t be as high resolutions as the ones in Desktoptopia. They’re ok for my little 13” though. :) That way they’ll all be your preferred flavour too.

$10 is pretty good value though, thanks for sharing. :)


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permalink this comment laura Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 12.22 am

Wow some very nice work on there


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permalink this comment AndyM103 Mon Aug 20, 2007 at 11.06 pm

Re: Kenneth Sundqvist
Sorry to troll, but Apple is not the only major manufacturer to ensure that you see their theme.  When people look at my Windows desktop they see black title bars (I’m using XP) and the first comment is “I thought blue, green and silver were the only options”.

Re: Windows
It is possible to automatically change desktop backgrounds in Windows - try http://msdn.microsoft.com/codeproject for some ideas.

Thanks Veerle, this site is really useful


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permalink this comment ole Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 01.47 pm

Run the following line in Terminal:

cp ~/Library/Application\ Support/Desktoptopia/.Backgrounds/*.jpg ~/Pictures/

A copy of Desktoptopia pictures is now in Picture folder:)


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permalink this comment Valentine Tue Aug 21, 2007 at 05.36 pm

http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com/

Here’s the site where you can get most of those wallpapers for free.


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permalink this comment tz Mon Aug 27, 2007 at 12.21 pm

Can someone recommend a decent desktop randomizer app for XP?


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permalink this comment Henrik Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 06.33 pm

I prefer downloading free wallpapers and let the OSX screensaver change them automatically once a day ;-)


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permalink this comment elysa Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 11.16 pm

I tried the trial a few weeks ago and I really like it. Thanks for the coupon. By the way I didn’t see the dolphins either.

I have had one bug with Desktoptopia I have mine set to reload everyday. Sometimes when I turn my computer on it will rotate very quickly through 4 or 5 backgrounds.



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