Random Wallpaper Gnome Extension Changes Your Desktop Background With Images From Various Online Sources

Gnome Random Wallpaper extension

Random Wallpaper is an extension for Gnome Shell that can automatically fetch wallpapers from a multitude of online sources and set it as your desktop background.

The automatic wallpaper changer comes with built-in support for downloading wallpapers from unsplash.com, desktopper.co, wallhaven.cc, as well as support for basic JSON APIs or files.

The JSON support is in fact my favorite feature in Random Wallpaper. That's because thanks to it and the examples available on the Random Wallpaper GitHub Wiki, one can easily add Chromecast Images, NASA Picture of the day, Bing Picture of the day, and Google Earth View (Google Earth photos from a selection of around 1500 curated locations) as image sources.

Gnome Random Online Wallpaper

The extension menu allows changing the wallpaper on demand (simply click on New Wallpaper from the extension menu - this way you don't have to wait for the time interval set in its options to change the wallpaper), see recently used wallpapers, open the wallpaper folder, and access the extension settings.

The menu also displays the current wallpaper as a thumbnail and allows opening its URL in your default web browser.

From the extension settings you can change the wallpaper source to unsplash.com, desktopper.co, wallhaven.cc, or Generic JSON. Note that you can't use multiple sources in the same time, at least in the current Random Wallpaper version.

You'll also find options to change the lock screen background to match your desktop wallpaper, set the number of wallpapers that show up in history, and change the auto-fetching time interval (default is 1 hour and 30 minutes I believe).

What's more, each service has different settings:

  • unsplash.com: allows setting the source as @username, you can enter a keyword, or set it to only fetch featured images. It also supports specifying the image width and height.
  • desktoppr.co: you can set it to allow unsafe images.
  • wallhaven.cc: can use a keyword to grab wallpapers and allows filtering SFW or Sketchy images, as well as by category, like General, Anime or People. You can also specify multiple background image resolutions.
  • Generic JSON: JSON-specific settings not worth mentioning here.

When hovering over one of the recently used background images from the extension menu, a wallpaper preview is displayed, which temporarily changes your desktop wallpaper to that image (with a nice transition). It seems like this may cause crashes on some Gnome Shell versions like 3.24 and 3.26. In such cases, please disable the hover preview from the extension settings.

Random Wallpaper generic JSON Google Earth View

How to use Random Wallpaper to set Google Earth View as the online background image source

As an example, here's how to set Google Earth View as the wallpaper source by using the Generic JSON source option. Open the Random Wallpaper settings and on the General tab, under Wallpaper source select Generic JSON. Below this, you should see the Generic JSON source settings. Here, enter the following:

  • for Request URL, use https://raw.githubusercontent.com/limhenry/earthview/master/earthview.json
  • under JSON Path, enter $[@random].image
  • don't enter anything for Image URL prefix

For how to set up other Generic JSON wallpaper sources, check out this page (it includes examples for Chromecast Images, Nasa Picture of the day and Bing Picture of the day).

Install Random Wallpaper extension for Gnome