When it comes to decorating your desktop with new wallpaper, you probably have some favourite sources already, and we hope our Weekly Wallpaper series is one of them. Even so, there's always room for more great photos and images to download and use to personalise your workstation. Here are a few great wallpaper repositories you may never have heard of that are worth exploring.
Photo by meeper3000,
The Desktop Wallpaper Project appears every week at art and design blog The Fox Is Black. Every week the team behind the site highlight the work of a designer or artist who has made a beautiful, original image available to the public to download and use. In almost every case, the work is available in multiple resolutions, from the netbook-friendly 1280×800 all the way up to 2560×1440. The site offers specific downloads for the iPhone, iPhone 5, and iPad, but they're all easily tweaked to fit Android and other mobile devices as well. If you're tired of landscape photographs and swirling colours and would like some original art, check them out.
If you're like me, you can't imagine working without at least two displays. If you do have multiple monitors, you may be settling for one image on one screen and nothing on the other, or two completely different desktops on both. Thanks to Dual Monitor Backgrounds (DMB), you don't have to.
DMB hosts thousands of free desktops in resolutions designed specifically for dual screens of all sizes. Sometimes it's two objects on either display, juxtaposed to create a mirror or versus effect; other times it's a single sweeping image that combines both of your monitors into a single view. The site is updated every day, and you can browse by popular, recently uploaded, or by category. If you create an account, you can save your preferred resolutions, rate and comment on wallpapers, and save your favourites.
I'm constantly surprised by the number of people who aren't familiar with Social Wallpapering. The site thrives on its community of users, who up and down-vote wallpapers they love or dislike in order to keep the front page fresh, interesting, and the site as a whole only populated with much-loved, high-quality wallpapers. You can save wallpapers to your account for later retrieval, heart them so everyone knows you love them, and download them to your computer so you can add them to your rotation.
Desktop Nexus has well over a million wallpapers to its credit, over 700,000 members, and yet it's still one of those wallpaper sites that you don't hear about as often. Maybe it's because it has that "ad-ridden wallpaper site" look to it. Don't be put off; Desktop Nexus has a massive community of users, moderators and artists, all sharing their own wallpapers and wallpapers they find elsewhere around the web. You get the typical categories such as nature" and "video games", but the site's groups and sub-groups also cover niches such as as "wallpapers of waterfalls" and "HDR wallpapers". If there's something specific that you find inspiring or want on your desktop, you can probably find a member group dedicated to it. Accounts are free (as are the wallpapers), and once you're a member you can upload your own favourites, join those groups, rate wallpapers you find, save your favourites, and customise your experience. As with most sites like this, once you're signed up, you also see fewer ads than passers-by.
GoodFon is a bit smaller than many of the other sites here, but that means it's not difficult to find something you'd like (and might not find elsewhere). The site has the usual categories, such as "people" and "sports," but we recommend you check out their "macro" and "painting" categories to find something really unique. One of GoodFon's claims to fame is that all of its wallpapers are available in multiple screen resolutions and checked by site administrators to make sure they're high-quality and fit the category they're listed in. If you sign up for an account, you can rate wallpapers, save them to your account, and search by colour.
PixelGirl Presents has been around since 2000, and its collection has grown and matured over the years. While there are plenty of desktop wallpapers to browse, you can also find lots of smartphone wallpapers and icon sets to personalise your desktop. Wallpapers and images are listed with their artist so you can see more by the same person, and there are quick filter buttons at the top of each page to sort by screen resolution or category. Unlike sites that aim to have massive, sprawling desktop collections, PixelGirl Presents is well-curated.
While we love finding sites that are dedicated to wallpapers and that offer them in dozens of sizes, if you prefer to avoid flashy graphics and screenshots from video games, check out Flickr and 500px. Neither site is exactly "under the radar", but both have great user groups and user-generated collections of photography and art that make great desktop wallpapers, and almost all of them have RSS feeds that you can plug in to your favourite desktop switching application (more on that a little later). Most people think of Flickr and 500px as places to upload their own photos and to connect with people they know, but you can find a wealth of great wallpaper, much of it free to download directly from the photographer.
The Usual Suspects
If you're just getting into the whole wallpaper thing, check out our guide to keeping your desktop fresh with new wallpapers. We show you some great apps and tools to automatically download and rotate your desktop wallpaper from a number of sources -- or your own personal collection.
Of course, we would be remiss to let this post go without mentioning some of our own favourite wallpaper sites, including Desktoppr, which syncs with Dropbox for easy downloading and desktop switching, and Wallbase, which scrapes a number of sites on the internet for a constant stream of new, high-quality wallpapers that you can search by keyword, colour, resolution even by uploading your own image (which is great if you have a low-resolution desktop and want to find a higher-res version).
We should also mention the obvious names, includng InterfaceLift, Wallpapers Wide, DeviantArt, Vlad Studio, Digital Blasphemy, NASA's Image Gallery, and some of the more popular wallpaper sites that made our top five in our last Hive Five for wallpaper sites, and the Hive before that. If you're looking for even more sources, check those out.