A new Chrome flag has led some to believe that ChromeOS will soon let you refresh your wallpaper every 10 seconds, but that’s not what’s happening here.

In the ChromeOS wallpapers app today, you can pick a wallpaper from any of the various categories and art styles. Or if you want, you can automatically shuffle through that category, getting a new wallpaper for your Chromebook daily.

More recently, the ChromeOS team has been working on adding Google Photos to the list of places that you can select your wallpaper from. To bring that new integration in-line with ChromeOS’s existing wallpapers, Google is working on making it possible to use a different photo from your gallery every day.

This is taking a bit more effort on Google’s part than simply adding a new category of wallpapers since your Google Photos collection likely grows daily. As such, to help the developers ensure the new Google Photos wallpaper integration is working correctly — recognizing new pictures, shuffling correctly, actually changing when it’s time to, etc. — ChromeOS is gaining a new flag in chrome://flags to speed up the process.

Enable shortened wallpaper daily refresh interval for manual testing

Allows developers to see a new wallpaper once every ten seconds rather than once per day when using the daily refresh feature.

#wallpaper-fast-refresh

However, the important distinction to note here is that the ChromeOS team repeatedly notes that this feature is only intended for “developers.” In addition to the flag’s description above, the associated code change also calls out this fact (emphasis ours).

Will allow developers (and users, though this is not the flag’s intent) to enable/disable the wallpaper fast refresh manual testing mode via chrome://flags on Dev/Canary/Unknown channels.

More importantly, there is code in place to explicitly hide this ten-second wallpaper refresh rate unless you’re using a pre-release version of ChromeOS, specifically Canary or Dev. By all accounts, this is only intended for use by developers, and will not be a feature available for the overwhelming majority of Chromebooks.

Now, that being said, I can see why some would be hopeful for ChromeOS to offer something a bit peppier than a daily wallpaper refresh. Google’s own Nest Hub and other Assistant-powered smart displays — and even Pixel phones on a Pixel Stand — allow you to turn your device into a digital frame for your Google Photos library.

On those devices, new pictures are selected on a fairly regular basis, keeping things fresh and interesting. It would be nice to let your Chromebook’s wallpaper serve similarly as a photo frame, but that’s distinctly not what’s happening here today.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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