One thing I like doing on a very regular basis is changing my wallpaper on whatever Chromebook is in front of me at the time. Depending on the season or what I have upcoming, I tend to adjust my background image accordingly. This time of year I tend to have a trip to Chicago planned, but COVID-19 has obviously messed that up this year. In preparation for our trip in the fall, however, I’m already rocking some downtown Chicago wallpapers to ease the sadness.
If you’re like me and enjoy lots of different wallpapers, you may have quickly grown tired of Google’s built-in collection and decided to move on to the much more vast assortment of wallpapers available on the web. There are a lot to choose from. So many, in fact, that it can begin to clutter things up due to the way Chrome OS forces you to store wallpapers. You see, the standard wallpaper picker only sees your personal images via the Images archive on Chrome OS. That means you need to download and store these images somewhere on your local drive in order to choose them as backgrounds.
For people like me, that can be a problem. I have tons of wallpapers in a folder on Google Drive right now that I constantly am adding to, but to use them I’ve been foolishly copy/pasting them over to my local storage when it is time to choose a new one. It’s a clunky system, sure, but it keeps all those 4K images off my precious local storage. The thing is, there’s a simpler way to make all this work while keeping everything conveniently stored in Google Drive.
Skipping the built-in wallpaper picker entirely, this method is dead-simple and fast, too. As you collect wallpapers, simply save them to your Google Drive instead of locally on your Chromebook. I keep mine in a folder called ‘Backgrounds,’ but you can put them anywhere you like in Drive. When you are ready for a new canvas feast your eyes upon, open your Files app, navigate to that folder you stored your wallpapers in, and right-click (or 2-finger click/tap) the image you want to set. Select ‘Set as wallpaper’ and you’ll immediately have you fresh new background set up and ready. No copy, no paste, no problem.
The only thing you miss out on with this method is the wallpaper picker’s option to position the photo as centered or as center-cropped. Using this more-direct, Google Drive setup, the image you choose will automatically get set up as a centered auto-crop. Honestly, I always choose this option, so this slight limitation is completely fine for me and I’d bet will be fine for you as well.
In the end, this is just a small workaround that, if you are like me, will give you far more flexibility and control over what your Chromebook looks and feels like any given day. With this now at my disposal, I can guarantee I’ll be moving through a whole lot more photos each week from Chicago to Germany to abstracts to art. When its this quick and simple, why not?