Other than having quite a few attractive wallpapers to choose from, the Chrome OS wallpaper app is about as basic as it gets. Don’t get me wrong, I love simplicity and I love the selection we get with the stock Chrome OS wallpapers, but there’s really no need to add a bunch of features to an application that simply places your background.
There is a new feature that I’ve been really hoping for that, in a way, looks to be making an entrance with Chrome OS 90 – currenntly in Beta. You see, while I appreciate the wallpapers out of the box, I generally tend to find my inspiration for backgrounds elsewhere. Whether it be from my personal photo gallery or somewhere like Pexels, I like finding cool shots to stare at on my Chromebooks wallpaper. I especially appreciate a shot that can be used on my big, ultrawide monitor as well.
Being a guy who jumps from one Chromebook to the next, however, I’ve had to implement some tricks to take my custom wallpapers with me. Right now, Chrome OS doesn’t’ have any real way to build a library of custom wallpapers for your Chromebook and it doesn’t sync your custom wallpapers from device to device like it does with the built-in selections. With the wallpaper app, if I select a Google-provided wallpaper, it almost immediately syncs to any other Chromebook I have open and has does this for years at this point.
Since it won’t sync my custom backgrounds, I keep all my wallpaper images in a Google Drive folder where I can navigate to them, right-click, and set one of them as my current wallpaper on whatever device I’m currently on. But what I really want is for the wallpaper app to keep a running sync folder under the ‘My Images’ section that stores away all those custom wallpapers for use on other devices down the road.
While we’re not 100% there, a new ability seems to be showing up in Chrome OS 90 as I’ve noticed just today that my custom wallpaper set on one Chromebook magically appeared on another. The image that is now the background on both devices isn’t natively downloaded to either Chromebook and multiple tests proved this out: Chrome OS is syncing your local files set as wallpapers across all your Chrome OS devices. Well, most of the time it is.
We used quite a few Chromebooks and successfully changed the backgrounds on all of them with custom wallpapers on a single device, but as I sat down to write this, it appears the sync is not working for Chromebooks tied to my personal Google account. This could be a temporary hiccup with my account as Gabriel’s local wallpapers are still syncing from one device to the next along with devices tied to one of our Chrome Unboxed accounts, so your mileage may vary. For the time being, it seems removing my Google account from the equation and making sure the devices in use for syncing are all on Chrome OS 90+ does the trick every time.
While I love this change, what I’d love for it to lead to is a full sync of my last 10 or 20 custom wallpapers in the wallpaper app, synced up with my Google account. I’d love to simply open up my wallpaper app, click down to the ‘My Images’ section and see the last handful of custom wallpapers I’ve used. I go through quite a few, so pulling up a great-yet-forgotten Chicago skyline is always a refreshing treat to look at while at my desk and I’d love to stop using my Google Drive work around to bring my wallpapers with me. This new feature feels like a step in that direction and I’m at least glad to see single custom wallpapers getting included in my account-level syncing for now.