Since I upgraded to Ubuntu 13.10 I can't find a way to chose a custom picture as desktop background.
I tried System settings -> Background, but this menu does not provide any file picker to choose a picture but shows only the preinstalled pictures:

enter image description here

Or an empty window:

enter image description here

I can't find the options to set how the picture ought to be displayed either (like stretch or scale)

Do I have to install Cinnamon desktop just to be able to change my background picture? How can I do it with Ubuntu?

  • 1
    I think the problem might be, that I installed Gnome-Desktop and that it's packages overrides Ubuntus standard background dialogue. Does anybody know how to change that back?
    – user5950
    Feb 25, 2014 at 2:35
  • did you ever find an answer to that?
    – lofidevops
    Aug 19, 2014 at 9:39
  • No, if you don't use Unitiy, which renders the desktop in Ubuntu, you stick with this ridiculous menu from the crazy gnome guys. You can't choose a file from your computer but from Flikr. Brave new world!
    – user5950
    Aug 20, 2014 at 12:25

6 Answers 6


There area several ways built-in to Ubuntu 13.10. Though it is curious that your screen shots look far different than mine.

Option 1: right click the desktop and select 'Change Desktop background' enter image description here

Click on the '+' button to bring up a dialog box to select an image enter image description here

enter image description here


Select 'Pictures Folder' from the drop down to select an image in your pictures folder enter image description here

Option 2: Open an image in IMage Viewer. Right click somewhere on the image and select 'Set as Wallpaper'. enter image description here

Option 3: Find an image using Firefox. Right click on it and select 'Set As Desktop Background' enter image description here


Try Variety

Installing Variety

  • open terminal with CTRL+ALT+T and execute these commands to add repository and install it.

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peterlevi/ppa
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install variety
  • Then open variety from Dash

  • And get started to dig a lot of features. The more you dig the more features and wallpaper you'll get.

image image2 image3 image4 image5

Source: peterlevi.com/variety/


Install dconf-tools with:

sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

In the dash type dconf and start the dconf-editor. Select org -> gnome -> desktop -> background and change the value of picture-uri with the file you want.



Here's a visual aid for this: snap

Or open the image file with any image viewer, right click on the image and select Set as Desktop Background. snap02


I think you could try moving the wallpaper image you want to use into /usr/share/backgrounds.

  1. Execute this command in a terminal:

    sudo -H nautilus $HOME
  2. Locate the wallpaper image you want to use and 'Copy' it.
  3. Navigate to the /usr/share/backgrounds folder by pressing Ctrl+L and entering that path. Alternatively, just browse into the folder.
  4. 'Paste' the image you want to use into that folder.
  5. Try selecting the image in "System Settings → Background".

Find the picture you want in your file explorer, then right click it and select the "desktop background" option. Then a box will pop up that will give you more options for how it looks.


Try System Settings > Appearance > Look > Background tab, there is a dropdown box where you can select Pictures Folder. It allows you to use the file picker to select the background.

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