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Apple Wiki

Beginning with Mac OS 8, Apple integrated support for desktop pictures into the Mac OS. Macs could now display a picture in PICT, GIF, JPEG or PSD (Adobe Photoshop document) formats (or any other format that QuickTime's file-format interpreter understands) and set that as the desktop image.

The Desktop Pictures control panel was now responsible for setting both the desktop picture and the desktop pattern. It remained in the Mac OS until it was integrated into the Appearance control panel (beginning with Mac OS 8.5).

The control panel is split into two sections:

  • Picture: This section is new beginning with Mac OS 8. It allowed you to set a picture as the desktop background.

Users can have both a picture and a pattern on the desktop. For example, if the desktop picture is too small to fill the entire background, the remainder can be filled by the pattern.



In the Pattern section, the user could choose an existing desktop pattern or drag-and-drop one into the image well. A click on Set Desktop would effectuate changes immediately.


In the Picture section, the user could choose a picture and how it was positioned.

If there was already a desktop picture, the user had to remove the picture first and browse for a new one.

The user could choose if the picture was tiled, centered, scaled to screen or filled the screen completely. Alternatively, by choosing Position Automatically from the pop-up menu, the Mac could decide for the user how the desktop picture was positioned.

A click on Set Desktop would save all changes, with the changes going into effect immediately.

Mac OS X[]

In Mac OS X, the ability to set desktop pictures as the background remains, but the location has moved. Under Mac OS X 10.0 "Cheetah", switch to the Finder to choose Preferences from the Finder menu, and then adjust settings there. These settings have migrated (properly) to System Preferences as of Mac OS X 10.1 "Puma" (as the Desktop pane, and remain in System Preferences to this day (however, beginning with Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther", it has shifted into the newly-merged Desktop & Screen Saver pane).

See also[]