In the Desktop & Screen Saver panel of System Preferences, I check the "Change Picture" box and set it to "Every 30 minutes".

The desktop background doesn't change.

I tried deleting com.apple.desktop.plist to no avail. Any ideas? Thanks for your help,


  • was this a problem before updating to 10.6.7? Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 13:35
  • Thanks Nathan. Good question. The answer is I don't know when the problem started because I didn't notice that it was no longer automatically changing until a few days ago. I don't really know when it stopped working.
    – Damian
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


You might need to select a new folder of pictures and then back to the pictures you prefer. Deleting one of the plist files not all of them can sometimes leave the preference pane in a state of confusion.

Step one is to get some change, then re-enable the automated change part.

  • thanks. I can change the desktop background to a specific picture if i click on it. But if I click on a folder nothing happens whether or not I click on the "Change Picture:" checkbox.
    – Damian
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 15:59
  • Wow - I'm at a loss. I don't have a list of all the plist files, but if you isolate your mac from a network, and reboot it and only run this one pref pane - fs_usage might show you all the preference files this pane touches. My guess is there are two or three plist in preferences as well as several in a ByHost folder. Rather than muck sometimes I set all my apple plists aside except for mail and test. It's going to be hunting for a needle in the pref file haystack to figure out which ones are corrupt. Have you verified a new account works to be sure it's just a file issue?
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 19:42
  • Thanks bmike. This is a useful avenue of exploration. I like the new account idea. I'll keep digging and let you know if I find anything...Damian
    – Damian
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 11:32

I discovered that the PathFinder application is the cause. Under its application menu there's a Show/Hide PathFinder Desktop item. I hid the PathFinder desktop and problem solved. It seems that the PathFinder desktop doesn't properly reflect the System Preferences. While it shows the first picture in the selected folder so it looks like your changes have taken effect, it seems to ignore the "Change Picture" checkbox.

I think this must have broken in a recent update as it used to work, which is why I didn't flag the presence of PathFinder above. I guess I should have anyway. Apologies for that.

Thanks for all help and suggestions.


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