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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  • John Doe

    Loved my background images now I’m moving to Bing last straw google last straw.

  • Nick Rocci

    BRING BACK THE IMAGES!!! I am IRATE that they took that away! It made google personable to me! Why in the world would you take that away?! It is probably the most simplest thing to have, but they coolest thing! I had a beautiful picture that I took set as the background and now its gone…..what in God’s name is the reasoning behind this!
    BRING IT BACK!!!!!!

  • Arn Franzen

    Someone tell Larry this sucks. I used to like google but am now ready to go to bing and hot mail.

  • Olivia

    I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed that Google Backgrounds have disappeared. I don’t mean to be rude though and I apologize if I seem rude or offense. I have to admit I did see this coming because I was shown the warning for a while. But what I still don’t get is why? Why did you shut Google Backgrounds down? I’m sure you must have a logical reason but please do inform me of why you did this. I know many people are wanting an answer. Thank you.

  • john galla

    remember “new coke ?” classic coke had to come back and it did. we had to swallow the coke marketing fiasco..but not this one . i’m dropping google asap !!!!

  • Sharon

    I have changed my homepage to Yahoo because I can still have a background there. Some people might like a stark white blank homepage, but most people like to have a choice. I will no longer be using google as long as this new policy exists.

  • Linda

    I loved my background image. What kind of an idiot thought this was a good idea? Give us back our images!!!

    • Mar K

      Staring at a blank page is not going to give us stimulation. I want my background option back!

  • Monie

    i am VERRRRRY disappointed. I loved having backgrounds. Google really messed up.

  • gordon peddie

    Bad move Google – you say bye bye backgrounds – I say bye bye Google!! You enjoyed life at the top while you listened to your users, now you can experience a mass exodus of your loyal users now you have decided to TELL us what we should have/use!! Not a good move in my mind!!

  • Graham

    Bad move Google. I, like many others are planning to change search engine!

  • Maurice Martin

    I really don’t like it’s white background, never did, that’s why finding a cool quiet background always stimulated me to use Google, now that’s like the old simple Google it always was, without it’s background customization, I’d rather look for another search engine instead, I know this sounds exaggerated but trust me, I can’t stand it’s white background whenever I open Firefox…

    I have a dark room and I wanted to keep things dark, but now Google stands up and says “No!, You shall use our white background!”.

    Bad move from Google.

    • http://WriteInk.org Kay Merkel Boruff

      Maurice, you look like a fellow burner. I like things light. But Google-white-is-FUBAR.

  • Jay

    Their company.. their decision… my search and my internet use is my decision. … So… as much as I like google I’m really ticked off about the background being removed. But Google fails to realize is that it’s a BIG internet out there with lots of choices. I don’t want to look at a big white space on my computer all day at work… and no.. I’m not going to use your google approved theme. I’ve switched from chrome back to firefox… from google search to bing … and my home page is no longer the google search. the thing is.. even if they go back… now that I am trying other things I’m less likely to come back. I really don’t like how google is sun setting many of it’s products… what will be next? the Reader? gmail? google plus? .. ok that’s my rant. If you actually read this far then thanks!

    • http://WriteInk.org Kay Merkel Boruff

      Jay, I’m more than ticked off. Going with BING or FIREFOX or starting my on search engine FUBAR.

  • james

    I want my background back ,fu..k you google

  • ike

    I’m really disappointed with Google and so I simply changed my homepage.Now I’m using Bing.

    • http://WriteInk.org Kay Merkel Boruff

      Going with Bing or someone else too. FUBAR Squared.

  • Lynn

    I am not happy at all, I do not like plain white as the option, I had my own photo as my background and I thought I would be able to carry on using that, I guess I read the message I was getting wrong. I have tried in vain to add the photo back and nothing happens, I will now change who I use, and I have championed Google for years, as I have used them for years, what a way to piss people off. So another valued customer of theirs is now lost, ie ME. obviously not valued enough it would seem!

  • tvilleron

    I always thought google was the best. For me it was at the top of my browser list…. but I like options. Yesterday, google took one of my favorites away, google images were cool. I don’t know about most google users but I like stability. There was something inviting about a simple and personally pleasing image in a browser. google is still a great brand but I wonder what else might be sacrificed in the name of streamlining. So long pre 11/16/12 google and hello Bing with cool images.

    • http://WriteInk.org Kay Merkel Boruff

      tvilleron, my feelings. I’m going somewhere with you. FUBAR Google.

  • http://WriteInk.org Kay Merkel Boruff

    I guess you guys at Google got burned at Wall Street Burning Man. FUBAR if anyone there has military background. Come on, Google. At least put up some bloody images to your gazillion dollar organization. As the NPR brothers say: BOOOOOOOOOGUS BOOOOORING!

  • Lynn

    Since my last comment I have searched around and now I have gone back to igoogle they retire that on 1 Nov 2013 but at least I can add my background image back until I can find another search engine that allows me to add my own picture. How stupid google you are losing people over this, people like a background and if they want white they can choose that, instead you have chosen for all of us.

  • http://movingbackgrounds.net Gary Mason

    I’m really disappointed with Google and so I simply changed my homepage.Now I’m using Bing.

  • Syrus

    i’m absolutely disappointed! Will change soon to something that lets me have my background images back….it’s a punch in the eyes all that bright white!

  • carla

    I’ll use the site for mail only. And less of that. Google already has the most boring news page, this latest decision doesn’t make sense.

  • Brian

    I just found out about the backgrounds about two weeks ago and now they are gone. That sucks as I grew very fond of the one I was using. They just have to bring them back!

  • Starr

    I didn’t even know this was a thing (adding a personalized background image to the google search page), so really, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything.

    I only became aware of this now defunct option because of the UPROAR. Good lordy people are ANGRY. I don’t know why Google would get rid of something that so many people seemed to love.

    In any event, I found a solution to this issue in the google forums. Go there and search “google background image.” Someone wrote a script so you can have your pretty picture back on your search page.

  • http://Google Jose

    Why doesn’t google ceo quit, like that we can bring google to what it was. Stupid move taking the backround images off. has nothing better to do. He will take google down, mark my words.

  • Jourek

    i will change ewerything that is from Google. Its all about money

  • Tricia Lyman

    I want to use a search engine that will let me use my own background image. If you know of an engine that will let me do that please reply….Thanks.

  • linda

    im done with google….the backgrounds were the best part of google. hate the boring white page and their are other choices out there.

  • Susan Cox

    I am changing my search engine, this is just stupid when we cannot even have a background. GOOGLE IS GONE WITH THE WIND!!!!!!

  • Sheila Keeling

    I always used a background image on the white Google page & have it as my home page. The glaring white now is very irritating & will probably force me to select something else as my home page. Bring back background images!!

  • Jack Shelby

    I have always used google as my search engine,but I guess I will find another because this is always what happens when a innovative idea(google)turns into just another huge profit-only corporate mega-business.Can’t have too many of those,can we folks?(sic!!)

  • april campbell


  • Fred Beondo

    I am very disappointed that background images have been disabled. I will continue to use google as my homepage but it’s plainness is BORING. I do not understand why disabling background images was necessary no matter how you explain it. It is a simple “bell” or “whistle”(take your pick) that does no harm to google’s functionality so far as my experience goes. In view of the general infatuation many tech gadget users have for “an app for this and an app for that”, background images are as innocuous as it gets.

  • https://www.facebook.com/lpgina.e.monteiro Gina Monteiro

    I am very upset and disappointed about not having my background on my Google homepage i can’t figure out how to restore it even though i read the notice on how to bring it back..the CEO needs to get his head out of his ass and go after sites that are detriments to the internet..start with these crappy virus infected web sites that make under aged kids go to instead of worrying about background images that are less offensive in nature..We all adults here that use the Internet for educational purposes and play games and music and chat with friends and family.

  • A Wilkinson

    I’m retired and I guess just a throw away of Google’s brave new world….. So goodbye to my grandchildren’a faces on my homepage…. Now that’s sad, grandchildren not welcome on Google’s ‘home’ page….

  • http://- Grisho


    It is like to give a kitten a piece of fish and then take it before it finishes eating it. FUCK the one who’s guilty for this!

  • Andrew Compton

    At a time when internet freedom is being scrutinized, Google’s genius CEO pulls this stunt!
    Yo Larry, sit in front of a 32″ LED monitor and launch the browser dumbass!!! It’s blindingly obvious that “Minimalist” white sucks, and I do mean blinding.
    So Larry, now what? You fill “our” white space with advertising banners, popups, sport, consumer gadgets, society glitz, news and a thousand useless links. A pseudo Yahoo? Is that your grand plan?
    Google shopping! Yeah, I’m in the market for a new browser……

  • http://googlebackground Rick Beekman

    It is absolute total bullshit that Google has gotten rid of the background images. I hope they go out of business! To say that it is in the interest of “streamlining” services is total horseshit. I was led to believe that I had the beautiful desert scene “saved”…well, I guess not..it is gone..as are all of them. It tell me that I need to have my photos saved in something called “Picasa Web Albums”…which I have never heard of till today, (Nov. 18th). and, of course, when I try to go to that, I can’t even sign up for it…I type in my name and e mail address that it says it needs to get started …for setting up an account..and then gets totally stuck, and I can get no further. The people that run Google can just go to Hell!!!!

  • http://googlebackground Rick Beekman

    I have nothing good to say about Google getting rid of the background images, this is a bunch of crap. I was led to believe that the image I had was “saved”, (a beautiful desert sc ene). It’s gone. Now I find a page that tells me that I should have had my images stored in “Picasa Web Albums” first. I’ve never heard of “Picasa Web Albums”. So, I try to go to the Picasa Web Albums page, and it tells me that I neec to sign up for it, (which is too late anyway). I type in my name and e mail address, like it requested, …”to get started”…and click on “next” to continue the process…all I get is a task bar…moving so slowly that a half hour later, when it has still barely moved, (and trying this several times…with a high speed internet connection…just give up. Screw Google! There is NO WAY they can justify getting rid of the background images…no matter what they say.

  • anonymous

    Is this another way Obummer wants to contr5ol our internet since he has already said he intends on monitoring Google?? They threaten you too or are you just a supporter cowtowing to the dictator?

  • St3v300

    Google is worthless.

    • St3v300

      So is Obumma

  • Larry Page

    How hard would it be to keep backgrounds for google?
    Can’t cost that much. Probably does cost lots but still cheap pricks.
    I do not like you Larry Page. Now when I open up google in the middle of the night my background is all white and hurts the sh*t out of my eyes.
    Think of my eyes Larry, think of all our eyes.

    Haters gona hate.

    • Vanessa in DC

      Well….It’s been fun Google…I guess I will be moving to Bing now.

  • the lu

    and my home page is officially bing now.

  • http://google Christoph Kunzle

    why would they do this its soo stupid they know people are gonna be unhappy and less people are gonna use this site, its like they want to go broke. Normal sites try to get better, google is tring to get worse-.-??????

  • reese

    cant believe Google…what the hell was the purpose, dum asses…im trying out Bing since that were every body is going…BY Google !!!

  • Quilll

    If anything changes on my Google home page I’m switching. Period. No ifs ands or buts about it. I’ve been loyal long enough while putting up with their whims and disgruntlements over the years, but not any more. There comes a time when a person must move on, this will be one of those times. I can see it happening, not that they’ll lose any sleep over it. Unfortunately, if ten million people all did the same thing together, left for another search engine, it would still amount to a drop in a bucket for them, they are sooooo big. So me leaving will bother them even less than an angry flea. It just provides me with some entitlement to making my own decisions in life.

  • umer

    You allocate resources to somewhere else???? as if google has lack of resources. Closing services to merge is one thing, but just closing things for no reason is just absurd.
    Examples: app inventor, picasa, and background image for homepage of google.

  • umer

    ever since this new ceo has taken over google is closing stuff one after another.

  • http://backroundimages Patrick Hopper

    I cant believe that google is so stupid that they would take away this feature. Well its been real “Google” tomorrow when I wake I will be a “Bing” customer with my same backround image!!!

  • Stephen Hawkins

    Background images weren’t a big deal to me, but they were kind of cool. When I heard that they were going the way of Joe Biden’s hopes of ever landing a job as a motivational speaker, I thought, “This is a bummer, but maybe the new streamlined search will be good.” Well, background images have disappeared, but the new streamlined search is nowhere to be found. Oh well, I guess I can do something with user styles. Something involving baby sloths.

  • vnloya

    why take this feature away

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