How to turn Google Photos into Windows 10 backgrounds

One of the best features of Google Photos is the way it can bring your picture collection to lots of different screens.

If you’ve got a Google Nest Hub, for instance, Google Photos essentially turns it into a smart picture frame. On Android TV and Chromecast devices, Google Photos can supply the pictures in “Ambient” screen saver mode. You can even turn Pixel phones into a place for Google Photos when you use Google’s Pixel Stand wireless charger.

But until recently, my desktop PC wasn’t getting the same treatment. Neither Windows nor Mac offer much in the way of dynamic wallpaper options, and they certainly don’t integrate with Google’s photo service.

Thankfully, a program called John’s Background Switcher changes all that. The software, which is a free download on Windows (and an $8 purchase on Mac), can automatically refresh your desktop wallpaper with images from a wide range of sources, one of which is Google Photos. And because Google Photos lets you easily create albums full of specific faces, your desktop can constantly cycle in fresh photos of friends and family.

Setting up Google Photos with John’s Background Switcher (which I’ll refer to as “JBS” from here on) isn’t as intuitive as it could be. But once you’ve got it up and running, you might never want to go back to boring, static wallpapers.

Get Google Photos ready for the project

For this story, I’m going to assume you’re already using Google Photos and are somewhat familiar with how it works. (If not, here’s a useful primer.) I will, however, suggest using the “Live Albums” feature in Google Photos, which uses face recognition to automatically update albums over time.

If you haven’t created a Live Album already, head to the Albums section of Google Photos and select “Create album” in the top-right part of your screen. Add a title for the album, then hit “Select people & pets.” You’ll then see a menu of faces to select. For anyone you click on, all your photos of them will be added to the album—including new photos you take later.

Setting up John’s Background Switcher

For Windows, you can install JBS through the green download link on this page. (Mac users must either buy JBS through the developer’s website for $8, or through the Mac App Store for $9.)

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