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wallpaper

Send your Retina iMac’s desktop to deep space

Last week, I used the just-released Hubble Space Telescope images of the Andromeda galaxy to create a couple of desktop images for my Retina iMac. I liked the results so much that I spent some time collecting other suitable images from the Hubble site, and then cropping and/or scaling them to create interesting high-res desktop images. (I used Acorn for all the edits; it had no troubles, even with TIF images as large as 20,323×16,259!)

The end result is a collection of 50+ Retina iMac-sized (5120×2880) desktop wallpapers, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. Here’s the full collection:

Tip: If you click on the caption below the image, you’ll be taken to the source page on the Hubble telescope site where I found the image.

There are at least two versions of nearly every image—one or more where I cropped out an interesting area of the photo at 5120×2880, and one where I scaled down and then cropped as needed to get as much of the full image as possible.

There are three ways to get an image (or all the images):

Method One: One at a time

  1. Command-click on the image (anywhere other than on the navigation arrows) you’d like to download. This will create a new background tab (in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, at least), loaded with that image’s high-resolution page on my Box cloud drive.
  2. At the top right of the page you’ll see a big Download box/link; click it to save the file to your Mac.
  3. Repeat for each image you want, and then organize as you wish, and set them up as rotating desktop images.

Method Two: Another way to get one at a time

Open the full folder on Box, and browse/download directly from there. Click on any image, then click the large Download box/link to download the selected image to your Mac.

Method Three: Gimme the full set!

If you want all 54 images, just download this zip archive from Dropbox (300MB). Expand on your Mac, then look through and keep the ones you want. If the Dropbox link isn’t working, try this one on OneDrive.

Images courtesy of NASA/ESA, and full image credits can be found on the linked image page for each image reproduced above.

Seeking clarity in Retina iMac desktop images

I’ll admit it: I’m a desktop image (nee wallpaper) addict. I love to use a wide variety of images, and change them often throughout the day, just to keep my work environment fresh. On my two external displays, I use iPhoto images—general photos on one, kid pictures on the other. But for the main iMac screen, I prefer to use photos taken by others—typically stunning landscapes and cityscapes from all over the world.

With the arrival of my 5K iMac, however, my existing collection was no longer sufficient. Yes, they were all 2560×1440 images, which matches the “apparent” resolution of the Retina iMac. But in order to make that image fill the Retina iMac’s screen, it’s first scaled up to 5120×2880, then displayed by OS X at 2560×1440. As a result, my desktop images aren’t nearly as sharp looking as they were on my old 27″ iMac’s display.

As an example, here’s a segment of two versions (2560×1440 and 5120×2880) of the Sydney Skyline, as screen-captured when set as my Retina iMac’s desktop picture. As you move the divider bar right, you’re revealing more of the 2560px version; move it left, and the 5120px version takes over.

After scrolling back and forth a bit, you might be thinking these pictures are identical, and I’m just seeing things. While I may be seeing things, the pictures are not identical. (Compare some closely-spaced lights and the crispness of vertical lines in each image to spot the differences.)

Read on for a closer look at the image, which really shows what you’re losing by using a 2560x1440px desktop image on a Retina Mac…as well as a list of places I’ve found that have 5120x2880px images available.

(more…)

An odd iOS8 wallpaper placement issue

While creating and testing my iPhone 6 wallpapers, I ran into a little issue with how iOS 8 (I think that’s the culprit) places wallpaper. You can see the issue by watching (and listening; yes, there’s an audio track!) the movie at right.

You won’t see this problem unless you try to use a wallpaper with a visible row for iOS’s page indicator dots; I prefer this style of home screen, as I like the separation it adds between the dock and the icon area.

When placing such a wallpaper, however, if you don’t bounce it off the top of the display, it winds up being positioned just a bit too low—the row that’s supposed to contain the page indicator dots won’t quite be in the right spot. As I wrote on my iPhone 6 wallpapers post, here’s the workaround in text:

  1. Tap the desired home screen icon to see the full-size version.
  2. Disable Perspective Zoom. (It won’t work right with the navigation highlight row I use.)
  3. Pinch and zoom out so the image is at it’s 100% size.
  4. Now drag the image up and let it bounce—this is the critical step.

This really strikes me as a bug, because the images I’m using are 750×1334, which exactly matches the iPhone’s resolution. So with perspective zoom off, and the image shrunk to its smallest (actual) size, there should only be one way to put that image on the screen. But, as seen in the video, that’s not the case.

This is probably of use to only a couple other people on the planet who like divider rows for the page indicator dots…but if you’re one of those people, hopefully this helps you get your wallpapers properly positioned.

Wallpapers: iPhone 6

Once I had my iPhone 6 syncing, it was time to get to work on my home and lock screen wallpapers. I have made these for every iOS device I’ve owned—here’s the full collection.

My home screen wallpapers feature a bar to highlight the paging dots, and are typically “low noise” to make it easy to see icons and text. The lock screen wallpapers have no such restriction, and include a little bit of everything.

These wallpapers are 750×1344 pixels in size, and are designed for use on the iPhone 6, as that’s what I have. (If you use a Plus, and really like an image or two, let me know and I can make one for the larger phone.) Note that the images shown in the image sliders below (hover and click to cycle) are low-quality 180×320 JPEG representations of the actual photos; to get the high-quality images, download the entire bundle [24MB] and install only those you wish to use.

Home Screens (16) Lock Screens (52)

Note: Due to a quirk in iOS 8, you need to use these steps when installing one of my home screens, otherwise the nav bar (the bar that shows the page navigation buttons) won’t be located in the right spot. Here’s how, assuming you’re in the “Choose a new wallpaper” section of iOS:

  1. Tap the desired home screen icon to see the full-size version.
  2. Disable Perspective Zoom. (It won’t work right with the navigation highlight row I use.)
  3. Pinch and zoom out so the image is at it’s 100% size.
  4. Now drag the image up and let it bounce—this is the critical step.

If you’ve done the above steps right, then you’ll see quite a few pixels of the nav bar above the Perspective Zoom button (top image). If you haven’t done it properly, then the nav bar will barely clear the button (bottom image).

Given the images are the same resolution as the screen, I have no idea why this happens…but it does, and this is the only way to make sure the nav bar winds up where you want it.

License: All photographs in these wallpapers are © Rob Griffiths, and are freely provided for personal use only. You may not include these wallpapers on other sites, nor in any commercial product, without my prior permission. (I hate having to put this here, but prior experience has shown it to be necessary.)

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