Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy

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Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy
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Google has been shutting down services like crazy since Larry Page took the reins as CEO last year. Some are killed with little noise. Others are killed with a great deal of backlash. Remember Super Poke Pets?

People using background images on their Google homepages are about to experience a big loss, and some are going so far as to say they’ll be changing their homepages or even changing their primary search engines. Did you use background images on your Google homepage? How will you proceed? Let us know in the comments.

Google announced in September that users would soon no longer be able to upload pictures with Classic Plus, which had let them upload or select images to use as a background on Google.com. The company said at the time that this would begin on October 16, and that the service would be completely turned off in November.

Now, people using background images have been getting the following message, with an exact date:

Background images are going away on November 16, 2012

Thank you for using background images. As we build a more streamlined Google Search page for everyone, we’ll no longer be able to support customization with background images. So you will no longer be able to see your background pictures starting November 16, 2012.

Click Remove to stop using a background image now. Your current background image and Picasa web albums will still be available to you.

So, next week, these users will be faced with new choices to make. Do they still want to use Google as their homepage? Do they want to use another search engine altogether? It just so happens that Google’s competitors are making some other new homepage-oriented changes. Bing, for example, launched a new download feature for their daily homepage images (which were arguably already one of the best parts about Bing):

Download Bing home page image

This all comes at a time, mind you, that Bing is making significant moves to increase its share of the search market anyway. In the UK, Google has already fallen to its smallest market share in years.

Yahoo should be launching a newly designed version of its homepage pretty soon:

Yahoo Homepage Redesign
Image via All Things D

Earlier this week, Google users began taking to reddit to vent their frustrations. At one point, the top post in the Google subreddit was: “Google, for the first time ever, you disappoint me,” which was about the notification. This was followed by:

The Google search page is discontinuing support for background images. I use a black background, because I hate being assaulted by a bright screen. So, I’m gonna use this instead. …easier than a greasemonkey script. (ca.blackle.com)

Another reddit user commented, “As you may or may not know, Google is set to drop background personalization on the main search page for people with Google accounts. I can’t figure out why (although I would like to know), but I can say that the personalization was a bit more than having a cool/cute picture when I googled. While I like the Google branding, my eyes just can’t stand the bright white page. The personalization allowed me to put a very simple black picture, and thus saving my eyes. What are your opinions on the subject?”

Another user responded, suggesting Stylish (Chrome / Firefox which lets you install themes and skins for Google and Facebook.

Earlier this year, Google also upset a number of users when it announced that it would shut down iGoogle, its personalized homepage product.

Pissing off users by shutting down products is something that Google seems to be doing more and more of in recent years. Why is that? Well, we’ve heard Page’s spiel about corporate focus in the past. This past week, Google’s Matt Cutts took a shot at explaining it himself. While he was not talking about the Google homepage, specifically, his comments were interesting (though unofficial).

“In my experience, Google is pretty good about trying to explore the space. We want to try out new things. Unless you’re trying things out – like if you’re trying to ski, and you never fall – then you’re not really pushing yourself hard enough,” says Cutts. “So we do try out a bunch of different ideas. At the same time, some of those ideas are not going to work out.”

When you can see that a particular project is “not going to succeed,” he says, it might be time to put those resources (machines or engineers) into a different project. Sometimes, he says, something just doesn’t get enough traction over time.

“It can also be the case that maybe you build a product, and then the internal infrastructure that we use changes over time…evolves,” he says. “I like to joke that the half life of code at Google is about six months. If you wait six months and go back to a particular section of code, like half of it will have changed. So there’s a lot of stuff going on internally under the hood to make our systems better at Google, but if you happen to fork off, and you’re on a strange little evolutionary path, so to speak, and then after a while people are like, ‘Oh, that is three generations behind our current technology, and we don’t even know how to get back to where we were before,’ then sometimes it’s easier to think about shutting down that project or rewriting it with newer technology or folding that functionality into a different thing.”

“It’s not malice,” Cutts says.

I don’t know if the explanation will make users feel any better about not being able to use Google they way they want to anymore, but at least it’s something.

Interestingly, Google’s homepage doodles, as Google showed this past week, can provide for good opportunities for Google to promote its products like Google Shopping (product listing ads), Google Books and the Knowledge Graph.

Do you care about Google homepage background images? Are you satisfied with Matt’s explanation about why Google shuts down products? Share your thoughts in the comments.

lead image via eltictac (reddit)

Google Background Images Are Going Away, People Not Happy
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  • TerryB

    I understand that Google are trying to make their service more streamlined yada yada yada… Why do they not have the option for people to remain on classic google and still have the choice for a custom background? If there’s one thing I hate it’s being limited… This will surely upset a lot of people!

  • Jeefo

    Maybe they’re changing what their Google.com homepage looks like so a background image won’t be necessary anymore.

  • smokes

    yeah.. bad news.. on the other hand, i suppose they will probably change their home page in the future.. so lets see how it will be

  • Mohy Eid

    lol, would it hurt keeping it? I do wanna get it streamlined.

  • bob

    bing, here I come!

  • Cec

    Why not then extend the background image to the google homepage or allow me to keep the classic look. I currently have a darker background image where it has the google toolbar on top, the google search, and then the two buttons.

    How more streamlined are they going to get? If I search from that page then my background image is not carried over to the search page. That is fairly to the point I would think.

    I wonder what is that they mean by streamline and how that is going to help their bottom line somehow (more adspace for instance for “trending” search topics somewhere on the page).

  • Mat

    This is a real shame. But would it possible for an add-on in google labs to fill this void?

  • Angelica

    Indeed this is one of the only things I really like about Bing… I am very disappointed that Google is discontinuing. I look forward to the streamlined Google but the image removal seems stupid.

    • Dan

      Totally agree. Dumb decision IMO. Add features, consumers like feature, Google removes feature. Lame

  • falling

    Aww, I’m one of the people who change their background images religiously. I will miss them.

  • Donald Hawes

    No doubt streamlining means room for advertising and heaping on loads of garbage we don’t necessarily need. And I bet that it pushes us into having superfluous accretions we don’t want on the screen, as has been experienced with other “helpful improvements”. Why are we trammelled into a cattle race of no choice? I and the rest of our family users like the individuality of our screen backgrounds. Yet another commercial dulling-down of our IT lives. Are your lab boys and girls getting restless or feeling that their existence is not vindicated?

  • Natalli


    First you go and buy out Motorola (which is one of the worst companies to buy)

    Then you release two Android O/S’s within one year and everyone is still trying to play “catch up”

    And now you’re taking away my homepage customization.


    Google you are starting to disappoint me damn it!

  • Ann

    I think they are just out and out lying. I don’t want to think that, but how much more streamlined can the page get? This makes no sense. The only thing that makes sense is taking away my background image to replace it with what they want me to see/read, i.e., something that helps the monitize the page. If that’s the case, I’d be happier if they just said so instead of trying to get me to swallow obvious crap about streamlining the page. I thought Google was different. I’m more disappointed about the lie than about losing my very cool personal photo background.

  • Foo

    from all the crappy new features they added, they remove the one i loved.
    they have an army of geniuses and can’t come up with solution to store one fcking background image for each user after their streamlined search page update, whatever that means, srsly?

  • http://Google Rob

    Google bought Youtube and any personalization we had prior went right out the damn window., just like theyre doing with our background images. Anything that makes it personally “yours” they seem to have a problem with. We the People dont mean shit to anyone anymore… Corporate Bullshit rears its ugly head once more ! “Hey Mr. Google.., F#ck You…

  • anactaka

    I am really disappointed that backgrounds are going away. I just found one I think is awesome and I love looking at it every time I go onto Google- in fact, sometimes I open a new tab (Google is my homepage) just to see it! I think they are making a big mistake if they are doing this for their customers. Listen to your customers, Google!

  • Drewdove

    This would be a perfect opportunity for Bing to offer background images and totally blow Google away. I wonder how long before the Google doodles get the boot as well.

  • Dylan Huska

    I love my background, I will start to use bing once the background goes away. I have a beautiful landscape with a lake, mountains and a blue sky it is amazing. This will kill google.

  • Dylan Huska

    while bing is terrible, I have to show Google my feelings and boycott it, until they realize that their customers LOVE the backgrounds.

  • Dave

    I find this plan to remove the background images very disapointing, I have always used google but may now look for other search engines.
    When users like something why change it or take it away. I suppose the streemlining means more of the annoying advertising instead.
    I would rather have my page personalised with my favourite images and looking how I like it, as far as I am concerned this is a backward step.

  • Jason

    I know this is off topic but that is a funny background picture. Is that a character from sesame street?

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum


  • Mrs. T.

    Guess I’m going to change my homepage. It was the only thing that kept me using Google. So tell me more about bing?

  • Simon Carter

    Very annoyed, the person that made this decision should be sacked, and Google reminded, it’s not them that makes Google it’s us.. Because we choose to use it..

    Goodbye background images, and goodbye google…


  • Peter

    I love my Fuji + CherryBloom background,please don’t delete it , while google is my homepage!

  • Saint Boot

    Congratulations google, you just lost me, I wont be back to use your services again.

  • wade

    If Google doesn’t provide another way to dim the bright background, then I will try another web browser…………….

  • Morgan

    im really dissapointed with google over this. this was a stupid decision that doesnt even make sense. im sure they have the technology that will still enable background customerization. ill be looking for another search engine that can allows customerization.

    • Chris

      try YAHOO 7, I have,

  • http://www.perdu.com Nabil L.

    To all of you Backgrounds lovers, this machine (google) started white :)
    White is them signature. Tune your Desktop instead of your Browser. LOL

  • Janis

    Reallllllly disappointed, Google. There’s not much personalization in this electronic world…and I always enjoyed seeing my sea turtles. I thought Google was brilliant. Can’t you figure out how to engineer the capability for custom backgrounds? I’m going to look into Bing.

  • Chris

    What is Google up to,
    1st IGOOGLE is going in 2013,
    Now GOOGLE back ground pictures is going, what else google,
    you are a waiste of time, I am moving to YAHOO 7, like a lot of my friend’s have,
    Shame GOOGLE, shame,
    You are bloody useless,

  • GioM

    It sure is disappointing! It really surprises me that Lord Google will remove our beloved background images, just like that! This was a bad decision. I can only speak for myself, but I now that many Google users feels the same way. The greatest appointment is the realization (like a slap on the face) that we as customers don’t really have any say or control over any decision Google makes. What Google Gives, Google takes. I still am a strong supporter of Google, but this appointment news will take time to heal. I hope Google will offer an alternative, sooner or later.

  • http://google.com Fitrina Herardhine

    I love my background images. Why Google make such disappointing act like this? It doesnt matter if people want to use a background images or not, we can choose to use it or not. Why removing it? I am totally disappointed with this.

  • Nico

    This is the first member of the hangman drawn on the board. Don’t make the mistake of making him whole!

  • Domain Name

    Please just not remove it , keep it an option or a doodle or an add on or something similar . . . it was the best way to customize. Also it told which account i am logged in to in which browser in case of mulktiple accounts.
    Definitely removing the concept is a bad idea.

  • http://www.bing.com Dave The Rave

    Well, this is the last straw. Google have been disappointing me for a long time now. They removed the ability to play video’s on Google itself, then they changed the video link to “YouTube” with multiple clicks required to access a SEARCH ENGINE for video. It’s ironic that Microsoft see the fact that users want improvement to the search engine itself, and Google insist on giving you what they want, not what you want.

  • Elisabeth

    Time to start using other search engines. Sorry Google, I’ve reached my tipping point.

  • http://www.shinysearch.com ShinySearch

    You can goto shinysearch.com to create your Google homepage with your own background image. Also we have a lot of pre-made homepage styles you can use.

    • Matt

      cool. thanks.

  • http://www.jlembroiderydesigns.com Courtnay W

    Having the ability to customize my background made Google my primary search engine,Mostly because I’m a graphic designer and this is completely unfair for me and other creative artist to be able to upload our images on the homepage.Don’t get me wrong Google is one of the best search engines on the web if not the best but with a stupid decision like this for the company make they should quickly reconsider or me and 1,000,000,000 other creative artist will find someplace elsewhere to search.

  • Little Mouse

    Sad but Google just keep making it easier for Bing, Yahoo, and so on. I really Like Google!

  • Bob Hodge

    Let’s cut to the chase. What will you be replacing my image with? Where’re talking about a desk top image here, a freakin’ image!!! one I like looking at.

  • berta giffin

    your removing backgrounds, in the last sentance you state google & Picassa will still be available, are you planning on removing Picassa also, do i need to start downloading my albums and pics before you do??

  • Matt

    My guess is Google doesn’t want to pay copy write royalties for the images or they feel that they will impede upcoming ads on the homepage.
    I have nothing to back this up. Just a guess.

  • JesusChrist

    Why remove custom back grounds… well whatever this reason is, it must be so great, so important, so amazing, that it is more important than what the consumer wants. This equates to, a failure of a business. Now Google however, already has many users, most probably dont even customize their backgrounds, and thus making it OK to remove the feature, as it has no “traction”? or is it an action to aid future plans. Who knows, but the fact remains that the day, on 16th of Nov when background images are removed, there will be people who change search engines. This is referred to in business as a ‘Loss’. Lets hope they figure it out. Besides, there are a lot of other search engines that are just as fast and can customize images, and they are small. Its… almost shameful that a large corp would lose to search engines made in peoples basements in terms of customization.

  • Penny Potter

    How can my own picture be a waste of pixels? Oh, wait… didn’t he say they have to EARN their space??? Money money money. They sure are evil at Google.

  • Graham

    I changed to Bing the End

  • Wendy Scott

    I am continually amazed at how popular websites dump things people love. I guess I have gotten used to it on Facebook, sadly, but I guess I’d always held Google in higher esteem, and am surprised that they would remove something people clearly like, and without so much as an explanation as to why.

    But, as with anything computer, there’s always more than one way to “skin a cat,” as it were, so I checked out the Stylish skins (the link is posted in the original article), and found one that let me put one own image back up on Google. So do what you will, computer world, and so will I!

  • Fin Al

    Is there somebody in Google got paid by Micro$oft?!

    • Fin Al

      I suggest for everyone to save his customized Google homepage, and upload it to his hosting after making necessary changes. 😉

  • K

    Think this is the last straw for me. Have always been a huge Google fan… but ‘my’ products keep getting shut down
    First Google desktop,
    then iGoogle,
    and now backgrounds….

    Yes I have a gmail, yes my primary search is Google.. but the winds of change are blowing and as Google sees that products and ‘code’ evolve so do users. I suspect that many like me are comfortable having found things that just fit and work together. I will start looking for that ‘fit’ somewhere else. When I find it it will be goodbye to google from me.

  • Brandon Bachman

    Are people stupid? How often do people USE Google from the front page anymore? If you use Google from the address bar more times than not, then you don’t need it!

    Furthermore, if you want it so bad, you can find prototype ideas for background implementation using CSS — People using Chrome and Firefox are more than able to install Stylish and browse userstyles.org to get a background image and then some.

  • N

    Wow…!!!!! I like many other Google users have been using this search engine since its early years. I have gladly used google as my default browser. I was shocked when I read that of the 16th of Nov.I will no longer be able to use my personal pics for my home page. Wow again….!!!!Is this how you treat loyal users that have supported you since your early beginnings. I too will be swithing. You are not the only kid on the block. Its amaziing how when a buisness grows they sometimes forget what or who helped them get to where they got….

  • Rachel Charles

    I’ve changed to Bing, but can’t change the background image. Might change back to google if i never find out how.

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