How do I intelligently stretch my desktop wallpaper in Windows?
April 25, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Windows 2000/XP has three options for setting desktop wallpaper: Center, Tile, and Stretch. Unfortunately, these are all kinda dumb. If I want to set a photo from my digital camera as my wallpaper, I'm stuck with a bad fit (Center), repeating images (Tile), or an incorrect aspect ratio (Stretch). Is there any third-party utility that will intelligently resize my desktop wallpaper?

In other words, I want it to fill the screen without changing the aspect ratio. Any excess on the sides would just be cut off; either the very top/bottom or left/right, depending on its orientation. This seems like a simple hack, but I can't find any utility that does it.
posted by waxpancake to Technology (14 answers total)
Why not just use something like Irfanview to crop the picture to where you want it?
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:46 AM on April 25, 2005

I don't know a program that does it, but the word for that would be a "bleed" (when the excess is cut off without a border).
posted by mdn at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2005

You probably want the largest 4:3 aspect ratio possible. Photoshop and Gimp will allow you to set aspect ratio of the marquee tool (to 4:3 (or 16:9)) and then you can select the largesty possible fit.
Also, you might check out the BIMP, which should let you do the same sort of thing without as much of a giant graphics program.
posted by 31d1 at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2005

Cropping the photos to 4:3 by hand is a pain I'd like to avoid. It means opening the file, cropping, saving a new copy, opening the copy, and setting the wallpaper. There are countless desktop wallpaper utilities out there for Windows; I was hoping at least one did this automatically.

Incidentally, the Mac handles this behavior appropriately by default.
posted by waxpancake at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2005

I use dWall, although it works with folders of images rather than just one.
posted by smackfu at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2005

I reduce the picture to a bit more than 1024 x 768 pixels, copy it, then open a new Photoshop file to 1024 x 768, paste in the pic, move it around so it has good composition, and save as a bitmap. Whatever overlaps is gone. Not automatic, but pretty quick, and you get to compose.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2005

I don't know if this is still the case, but for older versions of Windows I know that having a centred image on your desktop was in the top ten ways to slow down your OS....
posted by forallmankind at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2005

I had a small image that I wanted to hover in the bottom-right corner. I used the ability of windows to have a web page as a background, and wrote a small .htm positioning the picture where I wanted. It worked perfectly, even when I repeated the process on my laptop/tabletPC and had the screen flip orientation whenever I flipped it around and latched it down over the keyboard.

There was one flaw, however...If explorer crashes and has to restart, you will have a minor headache for ~30 seconds setting the picture up again.
posted by mystyk at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2005

I use webshots for my wallpaper as well as a slide show for my screen saver. Since I do not know how to make a hyper link, the address is
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:21 PM on April 25, 2005

Cropping the photos to 4:3 by hand is a pain I'd like to avoid. It means opening the file, cropping, saving a new copy, opening the copy, and setting the wallpaper.

This is a 5 minute operation at worst. How often are you changing wallpapers that this is a problem?
posted by juv3nal at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2005

I really like Wallpaper Master. It can do other clever things, too.
posted by boo_radley at 1:47 PM on April 25, 2005

I second wallpaper master. It has a 'stretch' setting that will enlarge without distortion and leave space. It's pretty sweet and it's FREE!
posted by Mach5 at 6:53 PM on April 25, 2005

Even if I change wallpaper once a week, five minutes is an annoyance. Wallpaper Master reproduces Windows' crappy stretch function, leaving space around the image.

Apparently, there's no good solution for doing this. I should just write my own.
posted by waxpancake at 12:34 AM on April 26, 2005

Be sure it's set to resize and check the settings for Auto-Stretch in Further Options. The space around the image might be larger than its setting.
posted by boo_radley at 5:49 AM on April 26, 2005

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