Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Place multiple desktop images at once Desktop
I found something very nice in the System Preferences today, specifically in the Desktop prefs panel. I wanted to change the desktop image to a photo I shot some time ago. What I did not remember was that this image contained a cropping path, because it's original had been printed that way.

Now when I selected the new image, I could not believe my eyes: my desktop still showed my old background, plus the perfectly cropped new one overlayed upon it! This configuration survived even a logout and login procedure, so I think it's stable.

Obviously curious, I tried to put a second cropped image over the other two, and believe it or not, it worked again! Now i happily had three images coexisting on my desktop, one placed neatly over the other - like stickers.

[Editor's note: I don't have access to a program capable of creating cropping paths, so I can't test this one myself. However, luc did send me screenshots showing the two full-sized images in his Desktop selection area with the actual desktop showing clipped versions of both images, so it certainly appears to be true!]
  • Currently 2.50 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (2 votes cast)

Place multiple desktop images at once | 9 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Place multiple desktop images at once' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Multiple Pictures?
Authored by: pete on Dec 16, '02 10:01:34AM

I have been using DeskPicture for years now. It allows any number of pictures, placed anywhere on the monitor, scaled anyway you like. It's great and I was happy to see it out for X! It can be found at

[ Reply to This | # ]
Multiple Pictures?
Authored by: spursley on Dec 16, '02 11:31:34AM

Good hint. One small correction - the term is "clipping path", not "cropping path".

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: robg on Dec 16, '02 11:35:15AM

I forgot to fix the author attribution when I posted this (it's fixed now). The author's native language is not English, which probably explains cropping vs. clipping -- at least for his hint! As to why I wrote it that way in the Editor's Note, I have no idea! :-)


[ Reply to This | # ]
What about an image WITHOUT a cropping path?
Authored by: johnseal on Dec 16, '02 11:27:28AM

I am curious, but I'm not at my OS X machine right now: If you select a new picture WITHOUT a cropping path, is the old picture still there, wholly obscured underneath the new picture? To truly change pictures, do you have to remove the old picture first?

[ Reply to This | # ]
More explanation?
Authored by: jiclark on Dec 16, '02 11:53:04AM

Could we get a few details as to how to make this work? I know what I clipping is, in terms of the clipboard, but what's a "clipping path", and how do I make it work in terms of this hint? Does it mean that you can have one photo selected as your Desktop Picture, then select another and not have the first go away?

Thanks for the clarification for the dullards. ;-}


[ Reply to This | # ]
More explanation?
Authored by: luc on Dec 16, '02 12:23:43PM

clipping paths are vector paths created in photoshop (and alike?) to define a (normally non rectangular) region of a (obviously rectangular) bitmap graphics file (tiff, eps, jpeg or else). as simple as it sounds, pixels inside the path will be printed, pixels outside won't. this technique is needed for page layout frequently.

[ Reply to This | # ]
More explanation?
Authored by: spursley on Dec 16, '02 02:20:23PM

A clipping path is a vector path that sits on top of a bitmapped image (it's saved in the same file). The clipping path tells a page layout program like PageMaker, Quark, InDesign - and illustrations programs, FreeHand, Illustrator what parts of an image to display. Those parts of the image inside of the clipping path show up when the image is placed in the page layout program, those outside the path don't. You can still see the entire image in your photo editing program.

Why would you want to do this? Without a clipping path, you get a square or rectangular image in your layout program. With a clipping path, you can have an image with any shape you like. You can also use a clipping path to "punch" holes in an image and let any underlying text or images (such as a background) show through the holes.

Clipping paths are usually created in the same program you use to edit an image (Photoshop being the big guns). Photoshop can save an image with a clipping path in TIF, EPS, and native Photoshop formats. I don't use GIMP much, and I don't recall if it can make clipping paths.

[ Reply to This | # ]
More explanation?
Authored by: ephantom on Dec 16, '02 05:34:32PM

Jpeg images also support this feature. I always wondered why developers of web browsers never took advantage of displaying cropping paths in jpgs.

[ Reply to This | # ]
More explanation?
Authored by: diskgrinder on Dec 17, '02 07:06:21AM

Nope, can't get it to work.
I know what a clipping path is, and I've got one in a TIF - but the effect doesn't happen- what exactly should I do to make sure the clipping path is saved in the file so it gets picked up by the System Prefs?

[ Reply to This | # ]