Use RSS to create a dynamic Windows 7 desktop wallpaper slideshow

The basic Windows 7 theme

If there is one thing I have learned in my years of producing tips for the Microsoft Windows operating system, it is that people love to personalize their desktops. Whether it is individuals and their personal computers at home or users in an enterprise and their IT administered workstations, people want to have a personal experience.

One of the features that makes Windows 7 more interesting than Windows Vista is the former's enhanced capacity for personalization using the Aero interface. And one feature that you might find interesting is the built-in ability to use an RSS feed to supply images for your background slideshow. However, despite what you may find in the results of a Google search on the topic, the process is just a little more complicated than adding a few lines of code to a text file.

Feeds and files
The first hurdle to overcome is that fact that images for this process must be in an enclosure. (Thanks istartedsomething.) This limits your choices somewhat, but I will explain one useful work around for this.

Another hurdle is that there is no built-in interface for adding an RSS-based slideshow theme, so we will have to do a little copying and editing of what Windows considers to be write-protected files.

Create the file first
Here is the Personalization screen for Windows 7 Ultimate on my test machine. The current chosen theme is the basic Windows 7 Aero theme.

This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic blog post and download. Image created by Mark Kaelin for TechRepublic.

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.