If there is one reason we Mac users love our computers, it’s because of their outstanding aesthetics in their hardware and OS. Having a beautiful computer and user interface is one thing, but having it accompanied by a beautiful wallpaper is another one. OS X includes a number of great desktop backgrounds, but they can get boring after a while. I used to be in a constant search for fresh wallpapers, sometimes spending hours a week on sites like DeviantArt, Customize.org, Interface Lift, and more.
Now that I found Kuvva, that quest has come to an end. Read on to find out why.
“The free app that streams wallpapers right to your desktop.”
These words, used as a baseline for Kuvva’s dedicated website, explain it all. Kuvva is a tiny app that delivers curated art to your desktop.
I don’t know about you, but on every Mac I own, I set my wallpaper to change at least everyday. I like to start a new day with something new and inspiring right in front of my eyes. In addition to that, I really don’t like having my OS X desktop cluttered with tons of icons and/or folders. In fact, my desktop has nothing on it: no icons, no folders, not even aliases, I even hid all mounted drives and devices by digging through the Finder appearance preferences. I really want my desktop to be something I want to look at, not more.
That’s where Kuvva came to make my day.
When this tiny app is running, it will modify your wallpaper at the interval you set it to (from a new one each hour to only one per week), getting images from three “streaming” sources:
- ‘Featured’: every week, seven wallpapers from an artist’s work are selected and showcased in Kuvva (both within the app and on the website); this means you get a different wallpaper from this artist daily during a week
- ‘Popular’ rolls through the most user-favorited wallpapers
- and ‘Favorites’ corresponds to your own selection of wallpapers from the Kuvva catalog (more on this later)
Discrete but powerful
When Kuvva is running, you won’t even notice it, unless you peak at your menubar or your Dock. Indeed, you can choose where to put this little’s app icon, and clicking (menubar) or right-clicking (Dock) on that icon will give you access to a few useful features and settings.
First, if you don’t like the current wallpaper, you can change it by clicking on ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’. This is blind navigation however, because whereas ‘Previous’ will of course take you back to the wallpaper previously displayed, you never really know what you’ll get by clicking ‘Next’, as there is no gallery displayed within the app. Actually, I find this is one of the things that makes this app charming: letting serendipity do its job.
Just next to the ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ button, you can switch between the three different, previously described streaming channels: Featured, Popular and Favorites. Talking about Favorites, there is an option to actually add or remove the currently displayed wallpaper to and from your favorites.
Kuvva is also a bit social as you will find an option to direcly tweet your current image. A nice addition, though it is not (yet?) integrated in Mountain Lion’s tweet sheets so you’ll have to tweet from the official Twitter website.
Finally, you can:
- get directed to Kuvva’s website to know a bit more about the artist whose wallpaper is currently displayed, by clicking on the self-descriptive ‘About the artist…’ option
- have access to a few more Preferences for this app, including the frequency at which your wallpaper will be changed (you can even set it to ‘Manually’ if you really like the current one and want to keep it for a moment)
- and simply quit this app, which will prevent it from overwriting your system settings for wallpapers, but won’t modify your current wallpaper (that is, the latest displayed by Kuvva)
A welcome addition: your Kuvva account
From within Kuvva’s preferences, or on the website, you can sign up for a free account. This gives you the ability to have your favorited wallpapers synchronized between your computers (and your phone, because there now is a Kuvva app for iPhone too).
On the beautifully designed, elegant and minimalist web site, you can browse through albums and retrieve the Featured and Popular categories found in the desktop app. You can also browse through the entire collection of images, viewing them one by one, thanks to the ‘Explore’ feature.
Each wallpaper can be downloaded at various sizes for a use even without the Kuvva desktop app.
Additionally, once signed in, you can browse your favorites and easily remove some of them or add new ones from the Featured/Popular/Explore categories with a single click. I found this to be the fastest way to manage your favorites, and just for that, the website itself is a nice addition to the rather minimalistic desktop app.
Maybe am I not impartial enough, but I completely felt in love with Kuvva. I admit this might be a niche app, but if you’re constantly looking for beautiful desktop art, like me, search no more: this tiny piece of software just totally meets your expectations. All of this in a nice, minimalist, elegant, easy-to-use package that ‘just works’.
The sublime content is diversified enough to suit various tastes and moods. The app is both useful, elegant, and well-thought. It shows great attention to details (notice how the menu bar app transforms into a blue, subtle progress indicator when switching channels, for instance). I would have loved to be able to have some kind of a gallery view, though (honestly the only little drawback I see to this app).
I’d love to see more little apps like this one that don’t stand on your way on the Mac App Store. Kuvva is the kind of apps that makes you happy to own a Mac and makes it even more attractive in return.
Some of our readers pointed out that Kuvva doesn’t support Retina Displays yet. It actually supports up to 2560×1600 resolution, which would cover the 13″ Retina Display MacBook Pro, but if you have a 15″ Retina Display MacBook Pro, or any other screen with a higher resolution, Kuvva won’t work so great for you … at least for now. Hopefully they’ll have higher res wallpapers soon!
Kuvva delivers beautiful curated wallpapers for your desktop. This tiny app is the kind of useful, set-it-and-forget-it, one-thing-well pieces of softwares that enlightens your Mac experience. Plus, it's free, so why not try it out by yourself?9