The best wallpapers

Still using a stock image for your wallpaper? Time to beautify that desktop

Microsoft Surface Studio
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you work or play for hours on end on your PC, having a wallpaper that’s interesting to look at can be one of the best ways to spice up your usage of the system. Nobody likes staring at a blue screen or Windows logo for hours on end, so let’s make things a little more interesting, shall we?

We’ve trawled through the near-endless options of pretty images and animated backdrops to find you the best wallpapers out there. But we haven’t just picked the pretty ones. We’ve looked specifically for images that make for a good backdrop. They’re not too cluttered, provide plenty of space and clarity for icons, and in the case of the smarter ones, give you plenty of options to tweak them how you like.

Static screens

Don’t fancy all of the fuss and distractions of something animated or interactive? Not a problem. There are still millions of beautiful images you can pick from and even if they aren’t specifically designed to be a wallpaper, doesn’t mean they won’t work as one.

Because what we’re talking about it essentially just photography, there is a nearly infinite amount of options on the internet. To get you started, however, sites like WallpaperFusion have a bonanza of beautiful wallpapers to choose from, including landscapes, fantasy creatures, cars, and cartoon characters. Many of them are compatible with JigsawMania too.

NASA has a collection of the best images ever shot in space — all that black makes for a great contrast with your desktop shortcuts — and some of Cassini’s last snaps before it died. There are also some beautiful historic shots from the NASA archives if you want to have a retro space-themed wallpaper.

If you’d prefer something less factual and more digitally created, DigitalBlasphemy has been making great wallpapers for years.

Some of those links require premium memberships or payments. For guaranteed free images, these are our favorites. For a taste of what you can find, check out this user’s collection of beautiful wallpaper-ready photography over at Unsplash. Lastly, if you’re looking for something a bit more minimalist, check out SimpleDesktops.com, which has an assortment of distractions-less options for pretty much every platform imaginable.

Here are a handful of some of the best wallpapers we’ve found in our search. Click the source link in the caption box to be taken to the full-size version.

Animated wallpapers

Going one step beyond standard wallpaper images, animated wallpapers give you a little bit of movement to your backdrop. It can really make your desktop come alive, so as long as it isn’t zooming all over the place, which can be distracting.

There are lots of ways to help make these fancy wallpapers work including the DesktopHut Windows AppWallpaperEngine, and Bionix’s GIF Wallpaper Animator (alongside a wealth of YouTube videos). Although some feature more movement than others, once set up, your desktop backdrop should look a little like this:

In terms of actually finding animated wallpapers, companies like Uscenes offer loads of premium, animated wallpapers, while DesktopHut has a huge collection of free ones. If you’re desperate for more of these, check out the Living Backgrounds subreddit where you can find a constant stream of new animated wallpapers to choose from.

These are some of the best animated wallpapers we could find, though note of course that these are just still images from them. Click the caption link to take you to the download page.

Interactive wallpapers

If you’d rather something that broke through your monitor’s fourth wall entirely, then you’ll want to check out some of the interactive wallpaper options out there. Although typically you’ll need to pay for the tools to make it happen, the Wallpaper Engine or Stardock’s Deskscapes enable some truly amazing wallpaper options. They give you wallpapers with customizable colors and lighting options, fully interactive backdrops, websites loaded right into your desktop, and games that you can play without ever booting an application.

Here’s an idea of what some of them can look like:

For those who want an even deeper customizing tool, Rainmeter lets you customize your desktop beyond the wallpaper to include everything from live-stat trackers, to music visualizations, and custom icon layouts.

It would be impossible to do justice to our favorites without forcing you to install each of them in turn, but here are some stills from what we consider to be the best ones available right now. If you’d like to download them and try them out yourself, click the link in the caption box beneath each image.

Movies & TV

Chernobyl: 10 burning questions we still have after watching the HBO miniseries

If you're like us, after watching the HBO miniseries about the catastrophic nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, you still have many burning questions about what really happened. Here are some answers to those the series doesn't cover.
Deals

Amazon slashes prices on Samsung Galaxy Smartphones for Father’s Day

If you’re in the market for some new tech, there’s still time to take advantage of Father's Day sales. Amazon has some especially nice offers going right now, and we’ve highlighted some great Samsung Galaxy deals just for the Android…
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next device, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Social Media

These are the best ways to make your own animated GIF to share

Love sharing GIFs with your friends and peers, but wish you could make your own? Here's how to do so in Photoshop, or using a few other methods that don't require you to shell out a premium fee with each calendar year.
Deals

Walmart cuts $300 off Dell Inspiron 5680 gaming desktop for gamers on a budget

If you're stashing money but want an upgradeable rig that will go a long way, then this solid deal on the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop 5680 with Intel Core i5-8400 is for you. It is now available for only $700 at Walmart.
Computing

Genius uses 19th-century tech to prove Google copied its song lyrics

Song lyrics website Genius says that it proved that Google has been copying its lyrics and posting them on its own search results page. And Genius says it was able to do it by using a decidedly old-school form communications tech.
Computing

Facebook’s crypto isn’t a new Bitcoin, it’s Disney Dollars for a new world order

Facebook has already secured tens of millions in investments for its new cryptocurrency for Facebook known as Libra. The platform is still being developed, but has already brought in backing from Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.
Deals

Check out Walmart’s steep discounts on Dell and LG gaming monitors

If you're a gamer looking for high-quality computer displays, you definitely need to take advantage of this deals from Dell and LG. These gaming monitors will fit your budget and your GPU.
Computing

A Surface Pen with an OLED touchscreen would actually be awesome

Microsoft patented another Surface Pen hardware feature, this time registering a patent for an OLED touch bar strip on the Surface accessory. This could enable dynamic setting change functionality in the next generation of Surface Pens.
Deals

Save $220 on a 2019 MacBook Pro with the latest Intel processor on Amazon

Interested customers can now grab a 2019 MacBook Pro with the latest Intel Core processor at a $220 discount on Amazon. This discounted MacBook Pro also features 512GB of SSD storage, a 15-inch Retina display, and a Touch bar.
Deals

You can grab the 2017 12-inch MacBook for $300 off right now, but act quickly

Despite the growing market for Windows ultrabooks, a MacBook is still what you need if you love the sleek interface of MacOS. The 2017 MacBook is on sale right now, too, but stock is limited, so act quickly before it's gone.
Computing

Apple's Mac Mini and MacBook Air are both great, but which is better?

Torn between the portability of a laptop and the power of a desktop? You aren't the only one. Apple offers great examples of both, with great unique and shared features for each. If we pit the Mac Mini vs. MacBook Air, which do you think…
Computing

PowerPoint is easier than ever with Microsoft’s new A.I. tools

Microsoft's new A.I. tools for Office 365 users make mastering PowerPoint presentations easier than ever. The tools help you create stunning layouts, deliver data with impact, and brush up your delivery skills with smart coaching.
Computing

Google Calendar is back online. Here’s the latest on the outage

Google Calendar is down, and that means that instead of a day packed with back-to-back meetings and timely reminders, users are instead being treated to an error message. Here's the latest on the worldwide outage.