Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to view Webshots images under Windows 7 (updated)

Some software providers are sure dragging their collective feet when it comes to upgrading their products to operate under Windows 7.

In November, a few weeks after Windows 7 went public, I commented that still doesn’t support Windows 7 and followed up a few days later that I had worked out a way to make the images available for viewing under the new operating system.

But I also mentioned that I wouldn’t document my method unless asked, which Glenn has just done. So here’s a brief summary of my approach.

Note that I’m not saying that you should do this, just that it’s a way that I found would work and probably would for you, however I’m making no promises or commitment. (Review the Webshots terms of use.)


First, download and install Ultimate Webshots Converter (UWC), kindly offered as freeware by Hervé "Setaou" Bry

As with any data migration or conversion, you must have a good understanding of how the data that you’re converting. To begin with, during the download from the site, the images are stored in “albums” which amount to being Windows folders, like this:

(Click to view a larger image)

Be sure to read Hervé’s explanation that a folder of Webshots images contains both large images that are used as your Windows desktop backgrounds (wallpapers) and small “thumbnail” images that are used by the Webshots Desktop viewer program. Thus, the contents of a small album might look like this:
imageThe large wallpaper images have file names starting with “ph” (highlighted in yellow) and the thumbnail images have file names starting with “th” (highlighted in  yellow).

Before going any further, be on the safe side and make a copy of your entire Webshots data collection then work on that and not on your original Webshots images. Don’t say you weren’t warned, because now you are going to delete all of the thumbnail images since you do should not migrate them. (You can filter out the thumbnails via the UWC software, but that will be too tricky for some people, therefore I’m explaining a simpler approach here.)

Next, open a Windows command prompt, navigate to the main Webshots copy folder (not the original Webshots collection). In my case this was Webshots_migration_copy folder on the H drive:

Webshots_migration_copy In the command prompt, navigate to this drive and folder, then issue a command that will traverse the entire folder collection (all of the subdirectories,or albums) and delete all of the thumbnail images in one fell swoop, like so:
       del  th*.*  /s

The /s parameter is what causes the recursion through all the subdirectories and saves you a LOT of work.

I’m using PromptPal instead of the built-in Windows command prompt, but that is immaterial here, and it should give a result like this:

Webshots_copy_thumbnail_deletion_process Now you’re ready to begin the actual migration, so launch the UWC program and select Batch Conversion:
Webshots_UWC_batch_conversion1Select a suitable destination folder for the migrated images (1), specify that all the migrated images should be in a single output folder for display on the Windows 7 desktop (2), and then click the target folder selection button (3). You might want to investigate other options, such as “Avoid doubles, but that’s up to you:
Webshots_UWC_migration_folders_and_options In my example, the target folder selection (3) looked like this:
Webshots_UWC_target_folder_selectionWhen you’re satisfied that all options have been correctly specified, click the “Let’s convert!” button (4). Sit back for a short while (seconds, or perhaps several minutes, depending on how many Webshots images you have), and watch the file names as they scroll past:
Webshots_UWC_images_being_convertedLet’s assume that all went okay. (Sorry, I can’t help you if it didn’t so don’t even try asking.)

You’re now ready to tell Windows 7 that you want to use the migrated Webshots images as a changing desktop wallpaper. This looks very similar to the normal Webshots effect, with the one limitation that you don’t have the option to display the image title.

Look up the Windows 7 help for details, but essentially it’s done as follows. Firstly, right-click on the Windows 7 desktop, then select “Personalize” from the context menu and click on the “Desktop Background” link at the bottom:

Windows7_desktop_background_slide_show_optionFinally, select your Windows 7 desktop slide show options:
Windows7_desktop_background_slide_show_option2The most important thing is to point to the newly-converted images (1), all lying in a single folder ready to appear in all their glory on your Windows 7 desktop..

Choose “stretch” or whatever you want at (2), the picture change frequency at (3) and “shuffle” at (4) – and play around with these three parameters to suit your own requirements.

And there you are, all done! … A simple but lengthy sequence of steps.

UPDATE [19 December 2009]:
I checked the Webshots web site again today, to see if they had updated their statement of which Windows platforms are supported and it still only mentions Windows 2000, XP and Vista

Despite the fact that they don’t state their official support for Windows 7, I decided anyway to download and install the latest version of Webshots Desktop. The good news is that it seems to work fine under 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate.

My main reason for doing this is because, over the years, I’ve downloaded so many high-resolution images -- nearly 16,000 of them -- that I needed the picture title to be displayed else I have no hope of knowing what some of the images are.


  1. Hi,

    It's pretty hard to find a program offering support for wb1 file format (Webshots files). But I finally found one called BioniX says it will have support for those files before 9 November 2012. Here is an article about this:
    It's pretty cool :)

  2. Thanks for the info about Bionix Wallpaper. The feature sets for the free and paid versions seem fair enough. Windows 8 adds a few new things (such as improved multi-monitor support), so what's the story about Bionix on Windows 8?

  3. BioniX has support for all Windows version since 98 to Windows 8 (as specified here: )