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How to Learn More About the Background Pictures Featured on Bing

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  • July 5, 2009

When Microsoft announced their new Bing search engine, I was immediately curious about how it compared to Google. I changed Bing to my default search engine, and tried using it daily. Ultimately, I returned to Google, which always seemed to have slightly better search results – in most cases. Despite this fact, I visit Bing it at least once a day  – but not to search. I visit it daily specifically to see the new background image they are using. They change this background image every day, and each one is usually impressive. In fact, in most cases, seeing it actually makes me want to find out more about what I’m seeing.

As an example, consider the following screenshot:

Bing background for July 5th, 2009.

Bing's wallpaper for July 5th, 2009.

Great image – the type of image that makes me want to know more. This brings us to the problem, though. Bing doesn’t actually tell you anything about what you’re seeing – other than the copyright information. They do give you more information if you are using the United States version of the site – but I’m Canadian. Not only that, but they don’t have the same images on the United States version of the site. Essentially, this means I’m stuck trying to figure out what the photo is depicting, by myself. I found a pretty simple, albeit manual solution: looking at the source code of the page. The background image filename is actually prefixed with some text, in this case, “CalabriaCoast”:

http://www.bing.com/fd/hpk2/CalabriaCoast_EN-CA1974044658.jpg tweet

Once you have that name, you’re in business – search for that text on the web, and you’ll likely find some informative pages among the top results. Worse case, if you don’t have anything useful on the first few pages, at least you have a lead to work with. In my experience, once you have that name – you have it all. That is, of course, if the picture is of something unique, rather than yesterday’s photo: “Zebras”. If you were interested in where the zebras were, you’d have to guess based on the photo alone.

Now… as for how to actually find that name – I have a pretty quick process. I’ll explain how to do it here – covering the major browsers – but keep in mind, these methods aren’t very elegant – some of them require the use of developer tools. I hope Microsoft eventually makes this easier for regular users… and while they’re at it, people that don’t live in the United States.

How to Find the Bing Background Filename Using Your Browser

Google Chrome 2

An example of how to use the Google Chrome Inspector to locate the Bing background filename.

Using Google Chrome

1) Right-click the background image.

2) Select “Inspect Element”.

A window appears with the element selected – notice on the right sidebar, you’ll see a URL that is partially cut off. Hover your mouse over this URL, and a tooltip will appear – revealing the whole thing. You can even right-click it, and copy it from there. See the screenshot.

Internet Explorer 8

1) Right-click the background image.

2) Select “Save Background As”.

A window pops up asking you to save the file. Take note of the name it is suggesting, as that is the name of the background image.

Mozilla Firefox 3.5
Using Mozilla Firefox's Page Info feature to find the Bing background filename.

Using Mozilla Firefox

1) Right-click anywhere on the Bing page.

2) Select “View Page Info”.

3) Click the “Media” tab.

You’ll see the background listed along with other images. See the screenshot.

Safari 4

1) Right-click anywhere on the Bing page, and select “View Source”.

2) Click CTRL+F, and then type in “.jpg” as the search term.

Cycle through the search results – there should only be three. You will find that one of them is actually background image URL.