How To Use RSS Feed as Theme Picture Background Slideshow Source in Windows 7

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You may already know you can select a bunch of pictures to cycle through as a slideshow in Windows 7 theme, but what you may not know is you can also utilize the power of RSS feeds too.

It is a documented but not well-known feature in Windows 7 theme that provide the ability to specify a RSS feed as the source of slideshow images. However, due to the limitation of the RSS feed use in Windows RSS Platform, you can’t easily specify a RSS Feed inside the Control Panel Personalization window. It must be created manually. Here is how.

Step 1, create or modify the theme pack file

The easiest way is to find an existing theme file, make change to it, and save as a new theme file.

The system default themes are located in

%systemroot%\Resources\Themes

And the user customized themes are stored in

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes

Open the .theme file in notepad or any text editor, and locate to the [slideshow] section, and change the content as following.

[Slideshow]
Interval=1800000
Shuffle=1
RssFeed=http://feeds.feedburner.com/bingimages

Save as the theme file to your desktop. And make sure  .theme as the file extension name.

Note that this theme will pull the images from Bing as the source of slideshow pictures.

Step 2: Activate the theme you just made

Double-click the theme file you just made to set it as your visual theme. If this is the first time you subscribe this feed, the following window will pop up asking

image

Make sure you click the first option “Download Attachments”, and then the new created the theme will show up in Personalization window. To activate it, just simply click it.

image

A couple of notes

1. The feed specified in the theme file will be subscribed through Internet Explorer, you can check and change the feed properties from the Feeds panel in Favorites.

image

For example, the default frequency of update to the feed is set to 1 day, you can change it from the Feed Properties window.

image

2. As noted above, in order to get the feed to work, images inside the feeds must be adhering as an enclosure item in the feed. Therefore, unfortunately, not every feed can be used as the source of slideshow images.

Some good resources to use

Other than Bing: http://feeds.feedburner.com/bingimages, Flickr will a very good resource to use, as their feeds to different set or users pictures are Windows RSS Platform compliant.

Lastly, I had to give the credit to Long Zheng who firstly shared this find on istartedsomething quite a while ago.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Good question, see this new post below to see if it helps.

    http://www.windows7hacker.com/index.php/2010/09/how-to-re-associate-themepack-file-so-that-it-opens-in-display-personalize-directly-again/

    Cheers.

  2. There’s a bit more to it, if you want to get the RSS-based slideshow to actually work. Apparently, the RSS feed must be formatted in a very specific way, supporting enclosures, or the content won’t be properly retrieved and displayed by the theme. I wanted to roll my own using my own feed from one of my Windows Live Photos albums, and it crashed and burned. Any ideas on the best way to build a feed so it supports enclosures? What’s the best image-hosting source to use?

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