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Windows degrades Desktop Background images


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1,851
#1
Screenshot 1 is an image I use on my desktop. It has not been resized or touched up in any way. I loaded into Photoshop, cropped, then saved as .jpg.

Screenshot 2 is taken using the Snipping Tool on the desktop and you can see artifacts in it. This is exactly how it looks on my Windows 8 1680x1050 desktop, so further compression as you may think is not to blame.

The point is, Windows degrades images when it puts it on the desktop. That shouldn't be imho.
 

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fafhrd

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#2
The images are now of different sizes. I would guess that the artefacts come from the resizing down of the original image. Windows tries to put approximately 1.1 linear pixels (1.21 rectangular pixels) into each pixel of the resized image.

JPG are a lossy format anyway, and even the original shows artefacts at magnifications of more than 200%, with blue color bleed into the white and rectilinear artefacts in the color highlights on the flag.

Windows metafiles (WMF) are vector graphics, I believe - but I doubt you will be able to use them in place of jpg or png on the desktop.

PS Image rendering at zoom levels varies between browsers - fuzzy in IE8, worst artifacts in Chrome 19.0.1, fairly good in Opera 11.61 and Firefox 11.0 the best overall. IE8 (overlapping) and Opera (side by side) fail to preserve layout of the 2 images.
 
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#3
Yeah, original file is 1920x1200 and my desktop is 1680x1050.

Thanks for the info!

Maybe if I resize images myself to my desktop size, then use them, it might alleviate some or all of the seen artifacts.
 

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fafhrd

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#4
I cannot say - try it and let us share in your experience!

cheers
 

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#5
No real improvement I think. This is resized to 1680x1050 (the whole wallpaper I mean) and then saved as .jpg on max 12 and set as desktop background.

Seems to be the same:

Capture.JPG
 

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slyr114

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#6
my main issue is that window backgrounds are instantly converted into jpg once u set a wallpaper. so lets say you set a nice png as a background, this will in turn look horrible as a wallpaper since its now a jpg. I really hate this...
 

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netbox

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#7
I also noticed that, setting as background on .png HQ wallpaper, but when its on desktop it looks horrible.
why o why ?
does using 3rd party apps to set it as wallpaper, same results?

EDIT:

Okay, i did some experiment.

Built-in-windows:
I tried to right-click a .PNG HQ 1920x1080 Image then Set as Desktop Background = degradation of image on desktop noticeable
I also tried to resize it in CS5 to 1366x768, output as .PNG, then set that as wallpaper via right-click, degradation noticeable

3rd party app:
I tried to open the same .PNG HQ 1920x1080 image in IrfanView > Ctrl+R (resize) change it to my local desktop screen resolution (1366x768), save as .PNG then open the resized image on IrfanView > Ctrl+Shift+C = Awesome HQ Wallpaper (No Degradation of quality pixels noticeable)...

Test machine Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64 (havent tested on Windows 8, due to I removed it yesterday)

Here's the HD Wallpaper Id used (1920x1080);

facebookwallpaper.png
 

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slyr114

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#8
Nope, tried that in windows 8 and still the same results, it still converts the image to jpg and sets it as a wallpaper, its the same as setting it from another app like firefox. There pretty much is no way around it, although for my test wallpapers there was no need to resize
 

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thatmanbrian

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#9
Is it to do with colour depth? 8bit can look crap compared to 16bit colour, but generally as poor gradation rather than jpeg type artifacts. Your image though looks the victim of bad scaling somewhere along the line.
 

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fafhrd

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#10
Wallpaper size standard is 1920 x 1200, with color depth of true color, 24-bit - It's the same on my netbook with resolution of 1024x600 or my desktop with a resolution of 1440x900
 

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CamWitt

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#11
Okay guys, I fixed the issue with some help. Here's what's happening. Windows 8 is definitely downgrading the quality of all of our backgrounds. I believe this is in an effort to speed up the system by working with smaller files and using less memory. When you set an image as your desktop background in Widows 8, Windows saves an extremely lossy JPEG from your chosen image and puts it in a designated folder. This is the image used as your background, and it is a highly compressed duplicate of the file you chose. In my opinion, it looks bad, but if it's not bothering you, then I wouldn't worry about it, it may effectively serve a purpose (but I can't imagine how).

To get the wallpaper to look good again, you'll have to trick Windows (who doesn't love fooling machines?) into thinking it is using it's compressed file by finding that file and replacing it with a file of the same name and extension, only at a minimum compression setting. Refresh the display by right clicking the background to see if you were successful. In some instances apparently the display will revert after a reboot, but mine has not. To learn where that file is located, look here: Windows 8 Compresses Wallpaper - OverclockersClub Forums Let me mention that to perform this fix, hidden files and folders must be visible.

Find fredknex's post and follow his instructions. It seems he refutes his own findings by the edit he posted, but it worked for me and I have rebooted and refreshed multiple times since then. Windows 8 may or may not fix this issue in the future, but if it's bothering you as much as it bothered me, you can easily fix it yourself now.
 

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Joga

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#12
I've noticed the compression too. I wrote a post about it on Neowin here. The TL;DR version: to get uncompressed wallpaper in Windows 8, just convert it to a .png and then right-click -> set as wallpaper from File Explorer. (for Windows 7 it's a bit different - convert to .png, open it in Firefox and set as wallpaper from there)
 

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CamWitt

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#13
I swear, I thought I'd tried PNGs to no avail, but I tried again and that worked. PSDs on the other hand did not. Still, I could have sworn I'd tried using a dozen PNGs :confused:

Unfortunately, though, in any event, the colors on your background image will be significantly dulled in comparison to your PNG source. At least, they are on mine.

EDIT: Ooookay, I had in fact tried PNGs just as I thought... which did not work when set through Irfanview. However, when set through Irfanview, the colors do remain accurate. If you have Irfanview installed, open a PNG in it and set it as the wallpaper through the options button in the Irfanview browser window. It looks garbled, but color accurate. Then, with the PNG file placed on your desktop, right click that and set as wall paper. The background instantly sharpens but also becomes under saturated.
 

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Joga

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#14
I swear, I thought I'd tried PNGs to no avail, but I tried again and that worked. PSDs on the other hand did not. Still, I could have sworn I'd tried using a dozen PNGs :confused:

Unfortunately, though, in any event, the colors on your background image will be significantly dulled in comparison to your PNG source. At least, they are on mine.

EDIT: Ooookay, I had in fact tried PNGs just as I thought... which did not work when set through Irfanview. However, when set through Irfanview, the colors do remain accurate. If you have Irfanview installed, open a PNG in it and set it as the wallpaper through the options button in the Irfanview browser window. It looks garbled, but color accurate. Then, with the PNG file placed on your desktop, right click that and set as wall paper. The background instantly sharpens but also becomes under saturated.
Huh, that's interesting. I don't see that on my end. I made a comparison photo showing the original image, set via irfanview, and set via explorer: http://goo.gl/JsvYk

Admittedly, I only have a TN monitor so there might be some color subtleties that I can't see, but they all look the same to me, color-wise. Just the one set via irfanview (or Firefox, or Windows Photo viewer) shows obvious jpeg compression artifacts, whereas the one set via the desktop is a perfect copy of the source image.
 

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CamWitt

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#16
So, I am VERY confused. I decided to take a screenshot of my wallpaper with the Irfanview window of the same image open to display the contrast between the color in the two images. Success. However, strangely, if I set the screenshot as the wallpaper, the colors are unaltered. The dulled image gets no more dulled while the vibrant image in the shot stays vibrant. My monitor is calibrated with a Spyder 3 Elite, and as such there could possibly be some wonky stuff going on with the software. But I really have no idea. The original PNG from the PSD is still dulled, but when I take a screenshot of the vibrant version on the desktop, it comes out correctly. All I can gather really is that photoshop is attaching a different color profile to the file or something, which is discarded when the screen is taken. No idea. Here is a digital painting I have been working on.

The PNG that shows the color difference that I am experiencing (this should not be affecting you guys, dunno what it is with mine... :rolleyes:)
Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

...and that same PNG actually se as the wallpaper, now presented perfectly accurately.
Untitled2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Well, that is somewhat perplexing. Oh well, some experimentation will be needed.
 

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FuturDreamz

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#17
Do you have desktop syncing enabled? I have a slideshow set as my background and I've discovered I had to disable syncing otherwise some of the pictures are cached elsewhere for other computers.

perhaps the default settings caches the picture at a lower resolution.
 

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Joga

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#18
So, I am VERY confused. I decided to take a screenshot of my wallpaper with the Irfanview window of the same image open to display the contrast between the color in the two images. Success. However, strangely, if I set the screenshot as the wallpaper, the colors are unaltered. The dulled image gets no more dulled while the vibrant image in the shot stays vibrant. My monitor is calibrated with a Spyder 3 Elite, and as such there could possibly be some wonky stuff going on with the software. But I really have no idea. The original PNG from the PSD is still dulled, but when I take a screenshot of the vibrant version on the desktop, it comes out correctly. All I can gather really is that photoshop is attaching a different color profile to the file or something, which is discarded when the screen is taken. No idea. Here is a digital painting I have been working on.

The PNG that shows the color difference that I am experiencing (this should not be affecting you guys, dunno what it is with mine... :rolleyes:)
Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

...and that same PNG actually se as the wallpaper, now presented perfectly accurately.
Untitled2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Well, that is somewhat perplexing. Oh well, some experimentation will be needed.
Huh, that's weird. Yeah, I can see the difference in vibrancy between the two images. It might have something to do with your Windows color profile. I know sometimes photos viewed in Windows Photo Viewer will have a yellow tinge to them, and I have to reset the color profile to the sRGB default.

It may be that the color profile set by your Spyder 3 Elite is getting applied to image viewers like irfanview, but not to the desktop.
 

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xankazo

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Santo Domingo

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#19
I've noticed the compression too. I wrote a post about it on Neowin here. The TL;DR version: to get uncompressed wallpaper in Windows 8, just convert it to a .png and then right-click -> set as wallpaper from File Explorer. (for Windows 7 it's a bit different - convert to .png, open it in Firefox and set as wallpaper from there)
Thank you!!!!
This definitely works and it was something that was bugging me since Windows 8 came out!
In Windows 7 setting the wallpaper from Faststone Image Viewer was perfect. I was shocked to see the degraded results from this method in Windows 8.
 

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Joliet

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#20
I am trying to resize some personal pictures in my Library/My Pictures. They are pictures of my new grandbaby but some are too big. I have tried Paint resizing and other apps but none seem o work. I saw where someone used the snipping tool and I will try that. Some pictures fit perfectly while others are just way too big and I notice resolutions are different. What is best way to fix this on a permanent basis when I upload pics from my smart phone?
 

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