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May 21st, 2004

Desktop Backgrounds

A colleague was complaining about how slow his computer was. Knowing that he had a tiled image as his desktop background, I told him that not having a desktop background can significantly increase performance so that the OS only has to write a single block of color to the screen rather than redrawing a multi-million color image.

However, he was unwilling to remove the picture from his desktop. This got me to thinking about how attached some people are to their desktop wallpaper. Everywhere I look people are using these gigantic 1280×1024 high resolution images as their backdrop. They generally decrease usability since they’re just photographs and work to obscure desktop icons, in addition to the noticable performance decrease. And really, wouldn’t a picture in a frame next to your monitor be more satisfying?

I’ll occasionally come across a picture that I’ll use as my desktop background for a week or two, but I always use a small version of it (400×600 on a 1280×1024 desktop) and I never tile it. But generally, I’m sporting a solid background color and enjoying the fact it doesn’t take my computer 30 seconds to minimize windows.

What about you?

Posted in Technology

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 12:03:41 am
I'm with ya here, Ryan. I'll occasionally put up a small photo on my desktop which looks cool, but for the most part, the desktop is just a simple black color.

I had a co-worker (in Virginia) who used an animated image for his background. The screen would alternate between blue and gold every two seconds. It drove me up the freaking wall. Good thing he got fired quickly. ;p



FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 7:59:25 am
I always use desktop wallpaper, but that's in part because I haven't seen any performance hit with OS X in this regard. I think it can swing it.

I do remember the days of long screen redraws, though... when you watch your background being drawn line by line by line... painful.



FROM: Bill
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 8:26:17 am
Has this been proven though? I have always been skeptical of this, your screen already has to draw millions of colors anyway for websites, icons etc. I guess if your running some 200mhz beast you would notice. Im interested if pingers really have noticed a slowdown soley based on their desktop and not spyware or the like.



FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 8:33:01 am
I've got a large image of The Green Monster on my work computer, and a large image of a pint of Guinness at home. I've never noticed any performance issues.



FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 9:10:46 am
Bill: I manage the helpdesk here at work, where we have a mix of Win2k and XP, and we've advised our users not to use desktop wallpaper because there is a clear performance problem.

Me, I go back and forth. I'll put a pretty picture up until the performance gets to me, then I'll go for a solid color again.



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 9:50:21 am
Bill -- it's definitely more significant on older machines, but even on my home machine there is still a noticable performance difference.



FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 4:04:20 pm
I have a Final Fantasy XI wallpaper up now. For a while, I was in the solid background crowd and I definitely am at home. But here at work, I don't mind a little slowdown to have a bit of decoration.



FROM: Kate
DATE: Friday May 21, 2004 -- 10:24:01 pm
I usually have a picture of an outdoor scene that matches the season. Of course, I have to match the colors of all my windows and such to the picture. It's inspirational, if not practical.



FROM: Aaron [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday May 23, 2004 -- 1:34:25 am
I go with a simple single-color background: black on my Linux box, medium blue on my TiBook.



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Monday May 24, 2004 -- 4:50:35 pm
I'm an amateur photographer, and I usually put a nice scanned chrome of something I've shot recently on my desktop. The problem is, the computer often will not open the file. Something wrong with the Active Desktop. I'm not a computer head, so the problem might be obvious to you. The background will just remain black unless I go into the Settings/Display and reload it. PITA!
Now I just leave the screen black if it fails to load. I ran Spybot and AD-Aware and that fixed it for a couple of days. I guess I should do it again.

By the way, I have not noticed any performance problems, as in slowness, no matter whether I run a background or not. My computer's pretty old, too. I got it in 2000 and it wasn't the tippy top model, either. When you only have a 56k modem, how are you supposed to tell what's slow anyway?



Divya October 9, 2007, 8:19 am

when i set a background on my desktop,its not clearly and icon symbols are on the desktop should not in normal view .how can i solve

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