DeskLickr: Instant Flickr photos on your Mac desktop

This is a lovely idea. DeskLickr is a free menu bar app that regularly updates your desktop with photos from Flickr. If you’re bored with the same old wallpaper images, it’s a great way to revitalize your Mac desktop.

Feature-wise, the author’s thought of pretty much everything. You can, of course, say how often you want the image to change, and you can also choose New desktop thanks from the menu bar if you don’t like the current image. A grey floating window shows you info on the current desktop image; if this annoys you (it did annoy me) you can choose to have it hideable under other app windows, or stick it right on the desktop. You can also turn it off altogether using the Show info on this desktop menu option.

It even supports multiple displays (you can choose between having the same image on all displays or a different image on each), and you can make it choose a random image each time, or get the latest published image.

Problems, problems

The main problem with this app is that many photos, while they look great on the Flickr site, don’t make great desktops. Reasons for this include:

  • They’re just too low-res
  • The aspect ratio doesn’t match your screen (especially true of portrait photos of course)
  • They’re too “busy” and get in the way of your desktop icons

DeskLickr gives you a couple of ways to mitigate these problems. First, you can select the Ignore images smaller than your monitor setting in the Preferences. However, this didn’t seem to make any difference – I still got blocky images on my Desktop. Second, DeskLickr lets you limit the images to certain Flickr groups – a good place to start would be the Widescreen Wallpaper group I mentioned previously – as well as your Flickr favourites, images from the DeskLickr group, and so on.

I found one major bug where DeskLickr continuously locks up with the spinning gear in the menu app, and there’s no way to quit it. (How the hell do you Force Quit a menu bar app anyway? I had to resort to the kill command.) This was rather frustrating. In the end I managed to clear it by deleting the app’s preferences (which, for future reference, are in ~/Library/Preferences/tv.isnot.DeskLickr.plist).

Another minor annoyance: Any time you close the Preferences window – even if you didn’t change anything – it insists on immediately loading a new image. This is a pain if you particularly liked the current image. On the plus side, it’s easy to delve into DeskLickr’s cache (~/Library/Application Support/DeskLickr/images/) and find the photo you liked. Speaking of the cache, it can quickly build in size – mine was over 200MB after just a couple of days’ use – though you can clear the cache from the Preferences window. Bandwidth usage might be a consideration too if, like me, you have a monthly transfer limit.

Finally, there’s nothing in the way of help or documentation, either within the app itself or on the website.

Overall, DeskLickr is a nice way to get some cool new wallpaper on your desktop with the minimum of fuss. If the author can sort out its bugs and other issues, it’ll be a fantastic app!

(By the way, a good alternative to DeskLickr is Desktoptopia, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.)

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4 Responses to “DeskLickr: Instant Flickr photos on your Mac desktop”

  1. Partners in Grime Says:

    Icons on your desktop? Gasp!

  2. Matt Says:


    Yes, I admit it – my desktop is currently littered with icons. I’m trying to cut down though – I hate it! A tidy desktop is a tidy mind…

  3. mono1941 Says:

    I have desktoptopia on my computer and it works good but now it does not work with out any reason

  4. Matt Says:

    @mono1941: I suggest uninstalling the Desktoptopia preference pane and reinstalling the latest version from scratch.