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In terms of electronic screens (computers, cell phones, PDAs, tablets) what would be more accurate to say: wallpaper or background?

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It depends what your intentions are. The 'wallpaper' is an image displayed in the background. It you are pointing out that a context-sensitive menu may be opened by right-clicking on the background then the presence of a wallpaper image in the background is immaterial. If you are pointing out that I found a great site with lots of wallpaper images to choose from, 'wallpaper' might be preferable. Bottom line: wallpaper refers to the image, background refers to a concept in a multi-windowed environment. –  Jim Apr 8 '12 at 18:37
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@Jim: I think you should post your comment as an answer. –  JLG Apr 8 '12 at 19:36
    
Thanks, I have done so. –  Jim Apr 8 '12 at 22:29
    
This question should have been asked on Programmer's forum. It is due to the history of computer software and systems. –  Blessed Geek Apr 8 '12 at 22:53
    
"Wallpaper" = "Background Image" (for those who prefer to avoid the architecture and interior design term) –  SF. May 15 '12 at 14:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Wallpaper is a Windows-specific term. On a Mac it is called the desktop background. I believe Linux and many other platforms follow the same generic term (background or desktop background).

Background image/desktop background are more appropriate general-use terms.

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You are right there. On Ubuntu it is called 'background/desktop background', even in Win7 it is called 'Desktop background', but still most people use 'wallpaper' term. –  RhymeGuy Apr 9 '12 at 20:49
    
+1 That's the right answer it seems. –  Kris May 15 '12 at 8:31

It depends what your intentions are. The 'wallpaper' is an image displayed in the background.

If you are pointing out that a context-sensitive menu may be opened by right-clicking on the background then the presence of a wallpaper image in the background is immaterial.

If you are pointing out that I found a great site with lots of wallpaper images to choose from, 'wallpaper' might be preferable.

Bottom line: wallpaper refers to the image, background refers to a concept in a multi-windowed environment.

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It would be more appropriate to use "background". Windows declared that it was wallpaper a long time ago, but I hesitate to use that term.

It is a background (before anything else) and can be referred to as such.

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Technically the more apt term would be background-image, rather than background. Considering the two, the difference could be that wallpaper refers to the background-image of the desktop, the window with the lowest z-order in a multi-windowed environment, while a background-image refers to the background of any particular window.

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protected by RegDwigнt May 15 '12 at 15:54

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