Turn your Desktop into a Beautiful Art Showcase with Kuvva

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.

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“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.

Screenshot of Kuvva for Mac's dedicated website.

I rarely include screenshots of an app simply featured on its developer website.But this one just perfectly illustrates Kuvva: minimalist, elegant, up-to-the-point.

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.

Screenshot showing Kuvva actions in the menubar mode.

Kuvva features can be accessed through the menubar…

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.

Screenshot showing Kuvva actions in the menubar mode.

… or you can access Kuvva features from the Dock, if you’d rather have it sit there, instead of in the menubar by default.

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)
Screenshot of the preferences window for Kuvva

In line with the general aspect of Kuvva, its Preferences window is not cluttered but useful and well thought.

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).

Screenshot of the Account tab of the Preferences Window of Kuvva.

The main point of signing up for a Kuvva account is to have your favorited wallpapers available on all your machines.

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.

Screenshot of Kuvva.com website showing the popular wallpapers.

The Kuvva website presents wallpapers in a beautiful, minimalist grid design.

Each wallpaper can be downloaded at various sizes for a use even without the Kuvva desktop app.

Screenshot from the Kuvva.com showing a specific wallpaper.

When selecting a wallpaper on the Kuvva.com website, you have it showcased on the desktop of a virtual MacBook.You can also download it at various sizes, show it some love by sharing it, and browse through related wallpapers.

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.

Conclusion

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!


Summary

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?

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  • Kamil Waheed

    … the very reason I love my Mac (notice how this app is not available on Windows, for now, at least; for some reason)

    • Vibin

      It’s available for Windows.

      • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

        Yes it is!

  • http://www.landermedia.com/ Scott Parish

    I have over 150 wallpapers that I keep in a DropBox folder, then I just the Desktop system pref to randomly display one of these every 5 minutes on all of my Macs.

    But of course I have to manually download the wallpapers, most of which I get from interfacelift.com’s RSS feed. But most of those are photos. I’ll give Kuvva a go and see how I like it. Thanks!

  • Merl

    Interesting sounding app and good review – I’ll be taking a look at this.

    Although it’s always, always called “Desktop” and not “wallpaper” on a Mac.
    This ain’t Windows.

    There’s also quite a few distracting typos in the article.

    Personally I do the Dropbox thing too – 1000 images randomly changing every 5 minutes across both iMac and Macbook.

  • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

    Guys, thanks for your comments. I did the Dropbox thing for quite a while but realized that I was spending too much time searching for images and not enough time doing things ;-)
    What you’ll miss if you switch to Kuvva is the fact that you can’t refresh your desktop more than once per hour. But I am happy enough with the content showcased on Kuvva that this is not a problem for me. Also, I’ve found refreshing the desktop too often too distracting.

    As for the ‘wallpaper’ word, my bad. Indeed I switched from Windows to Mac OS X seven years ago but old habits die hard. Maybe was I mistaken because the developers themselves use the word in the description of their app.

  • Klaas

    I installed this app some months ago, was really impressed it, but I deleted it after 10 minutes. Why? The wallpapers had no Retina resolution, which made my desktop unsharp, and I felt a headache coming. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but this is a quite important feature nowadays. Are you planning on updating this?

    • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

      Well, it depends on your machine, Klaas. The maximum resolution offered for Kuvva images is 2560×1600, which is Retina as Apple defines it if you have a 13″ inch Retina MacBook Pro.
      You should probably email the developers of Kuvva, or more accurately, each artist featured on Kuvva you want a higher resolution image from. For years, 2560×1600 has been the ‘standard’ maximum resolution and artists rarely exceeded that. It might take a few months/years more to ‘upgrade’ these standards ;-)

    • Klaas

      Well, then I’ll wait a few months/years before installing this application again. I think it’s an important point, not to be forgotten in the review.

      • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

        You’re completely right, Klaas. I admit I don’t have a Retina machine, that’s why I missed that. I’ll see with our editor to add the lacking Retina display support. Thanks for pointing this out!

  • Rohan

    Gave this a try and its pretty good, although I will be sticking with Wallpaper Wizard as I prefer the range of wallpapers. Also I use Magic window when I feel like a bit more movement, and living earth desktop for a change. Anything to stop getting bored looking at the same screen all day long!
    Noticed you said you keep your desktop clutter free by changing finder preferences, Its even easier to use Pathfinders option to hide the desktop.

    • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

      Thanks for your comment, Rohan. I tried Magic Window but felt the movement too distracting ;-)

      Thanks for the tip about Pathfinder. I don’t use any Finder replacement software since I don’t really use the Finder. I mainly browse my file system with LaunchBar ;-)

  • emkei

    Does anybody know if kuvaa can change wallpaper for all desktops if there are more? Thanks.

    • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

      If your question is about multiple monitors: Kuvva changes desktop images for all your monitors at the same time. There is no way to set different images for different monitors.

      If you mean several Desktops in Lion or Mountain Lion, by default, when you create a new Desktop, it will use the same image as your “Desktop 1″. You can’t have different Kuvva images for different Desktops. But, for a given desktop, you can change the image for another one using OS X ‘Desktop and Screensaver Preference Pane’. It won’t affect the other desktops.

      Hope this helps!

      • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

        Well, my bad, upon verification, this is not exactly how Kuvva behaves when you have several desktops.

        Below is how Kuvva actually works:
        When you create a new desktop, Kuvva uses the same image as “Desktop 1″. If you click ‘Next’, ‘Previous’ or shift channels in Desktop 1, it won’t affect the other Desktops 2, 3… If you click ‘Next’/'Previous’ or shift channels in a Desktop which is not “Desktop 1″, you won’t have the same wallpaper as Desktop 1.
        I mean, Kuvva acts separately for each Desktop, rolling a different random choice for each one.
        Odd behavior…
        I didn’t notice that because I only use one Desktop, the other “screens” only are full screen apps on my machines.

  • rafael

    I’ve just spent 15 minutes clicking on “Next” waiting to find some beautiful wallpaper… well I gave up. I’ll just go back to my Interfacelift wallpapers.

    • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

      I’m pretty happy with the images offered by Kuvva but, of course, your mileage may vary!
      If you choose to give Kuvva another chance, I greatly encourage you to browse the website and pick up your favorites instead of clicking ‘Next’, you will waste a bit less time.

  • lala

    Thank you for pointing this out! I was looking for a way to get new wallpapers without a fuss. I’m trying to get into a working mood and a lovely wallpaper is a requirement for me–especially if I’m working on any word processor. (Pages, Word for Mac, or any other word program, doesn’t appeal to me in full screen.)
    You seriously made my day!
    w/love,
    Lala

    • http://mac.appstorm.net/author/pwizla/ Pierre Wizla

      Glad to help you, lala! That’s what Mac.AppStorm is for, and your comment is really appreciated! Have a wonderful 2013! Thanks!

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