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Set your macOS or Linux desktop background to images pulled from Reddit



  • Supports multiple monitors (macOS only)
  • Handles multiple subreddits
  • Aspect ratio and resolution filtering ensure your backgrounds are always beautiful
  • Flexible sorting lets you choose the quality of images it downloads
  • Optionally imprints the title on each image
  • Can pick images that match the current season
  • Download only option (--image-count) if you want to use macOS' existing folder-based background selector

Try It

  1. Download the project; or clone the repo using git, like:

    git clone
  2. Run it:

    cd reddit-background

The default is to use images based on the current season ({seasonal}), so for example, if it’s November, the images will be pulled from /r/AutumnPorn.

Install It

The easiest way to install reddit-background is to copy it to /usr/local/bin. To do this, run this command:

cp reddit-background /usr/local/bin

Configure It

If you'd like to customize reddit-background so that it chooses images from different subreddits, you can provide a configuration file at ~/.reddit-background.conf. Samples configuration files are provided in the examples directory.

Automate It

Once you have a configuration you like, you can set up reddit-background to rotate your background daily.

There are a number of ways to do this, but one way is to add it to your crontab.

To do this, open up your crontab in an editor:

crontab -e

And once you’ve done that, add the following line:

0 9 * * * /usr/local/bin/reddit-background

Save the file and quit the editor. Now your background will rotate daily at 9:00 in the morning.


Subreddit Sort Options

By default, when you specify a subreddit, you are selecting the top 25 posts over the last month.

You can customize the sort by using the following format:

Argument Possible Values Default
subreddit A subreddit or {seasonal} None
sort contraversial, gilded, hot, new, promoted, rising, top top
limit An integer 25
timeframe all, day, hour, month, week, year month

So, for example, if you want to only include the 5 newest posts from /r/EarthPorn, you would write it as:


Or if you’d like to include the top 10 posts over the year for /r/CityPorn, you’d write it as:


NOTE: Only the top and controversial sort methods use the timeframe option.

Dynamic Subreddits

reddit-background can dynamically pull images from the correct subreddit based on some criteria.

These are called 'dynamic subreddits' and they are specified just like normal except they are enclosed in curly-brackets.

Currently the only one included is {seasonal} which will choose from amongst /r/WinterPorn, /r/SpringPorn, /r/SummerPorn, or /r/AutumnPorn based on the current season (in the northern hemisphere).

Command-Line Usage

In addition to specifying a configuration file, you can also customize reddit-background directly from the command-line.

The arguments represent each subreddit you would like to pull images from. For example, to pull seasonal images and images from /r/CarPorn, you would run:

reddit-background {seasonal} CarPorn

If you have a multi-monitor setup, you can also set the background for a single monitor using the --desktop option like:

reddit-background --desktop 1 BeachPorn

This will set the background on desktop 1 to one of the 5 hottest posts from /r/BeachPorn.

Download Configuration

By default reddit-background will download a single image per desktop and set that to your desktop's background.

In addition, you can use macOS' native folder-based background selector which offers additional features.

To use macOS' background selector, you tell reddit-background to download a set number of images using the --image-count option. This will download these images into the download directory but not actually set them as the background. You then set System Preferences -> Desktop -> Backgrounds to point to the download directory for each desktop.

Image Scaling

By default, images are downloaded in their original resolution. When the "fit" option is set, reddit-background fits the image to your screen resolution by adding black bars where needed.

While your OS likely has this option already, using this configuration option makes sense when paired with the "Imprint Title" option. By scaling the image first and then imprinting the title, you get a consistent font size as well as a guarantee the imprint will be on the screen (and not scaled off one side or the other).

This option can be set as a default for all desktops or can be set individually per desktop. The following configuration enables fitting for all downloaded images:


Currently, fit is the only scaling option available.

Show Title of Image

If you'd like to know the title of the background you're looking at, you have two different options.

First, on the command-line you can run:

reddit-background --what
Desktop 1
    Perth, Western Australia, from Elizabeth Quay [5376x3024].jpg

Second, you can imprint the title directly on the image itself. This option requires that you load additional modules into Python. This option works best when paired with image_scaling=fit.

Prerequisites for Imprinting Titles

Imprinting requires the Python Imaging Library. We suggest installing the Pillow fork of this library. The directions below are a quick guide. Full documentation is available on the pillow site.

Windows users can download an installable binary from the pillow site.

Mac and Linux users should ensure they have freetype and libjpeg installed before installing pillow. Linux likely has these already, and Mac users can add them with:

brew install freetype libjpeg

Once you have these dependencies are available on your system, install pillow with one of the following commands:

pip install Pillow
# or
easy_install Pillow

Imprinting Configuration

Configuration can be done globally in the [default] section or per desktop. If you specify desktop sections, the default section is entirely ignored. The options are as follows:

imprint_size=[box width]:[margin]:[padding]:[transparency]
imprint_font=[font filename]:[font size]:[font color]

The first option, imprint_position, is required and is what activates imprinting. The others are optional.

Argument Possible Values Default
horizontal top, center, bottom center
vertical left, center, right center
box width number of pixels before line wrap 'auto'
margin number of pixels from the edge of image 50
padding number of pixels inside of text box 8
transparency number from 0 to 100 for percent transparency (text box) 40
font filename filename of TrueType font on your system to use Arial
font size font size 50
font color hex code: #112233, or RGB triple: (255, 128, 75) #CCCCCC

Example 1: the following configuration places the title at the bottom-left corner of the image. It uses the defaults for font and size:


Example 2: the following configuration centers the title 200 pixels from the top of the image. It won't wrap lines because the box width is set so large. The zero transparency makes the box background invisible. A custom font, size, and color are set.

imprint_font=Perpetual Bold:20:#3CB371

Since the program cannot know how your OS will scale the image, placement is relative to the image itself and not to your desktop. In other words, a placement of "top left" means the top-left corner of the image.
If your desktop cuts off the top of your image (in order to cover the entire desktop), the title box will not be visible. The solution is to always set image_scaling=fit to ensure images are fit to your desktop size before imprinting is done.

Note that font filenames are not always the same as the displayed name in OS dialog boxes. For example, the filename for "American Typewriter" on my machine is "AmericanTypewriter.ttf" (without a space). The extension can be omitted, and only TrueType fonts are supported.

Transparency affects the text box background only (not the title text). This semi-transparent box is added behind the title because no color is appropriate across all images. If you use a white font, some images will have white pixels in the title area. If you instead use a black font, other images will have black pixels in the same area. The box allows your desired color to be read regardless of the image colors beneath the title.

Imprinting with Command-Line Options

Options can be specified on the command line, as in the following example:

reddit-background --imprint-position="top:right" --imprint-size=1000:500:100:70 --imprint-font="Arial:50:#888888"

Image Choosing Algorithms

There are two algorithms included to pick images for you. The first one is called 'random', and will select images randomly. This is good if you want the most possible variety.

The other algorithm--the default--is called 'bestmatch' and will use Reddit score, aspect ratio, resolution, and tiny bit of randomness to select images that will look good on your particular desktop.

You can select which algorithm to use in the configuration file like so:



Set your Linux and Mac OS X desktop background to images pulled from Reddit






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