Downlink uses real-time satellite imagery to create gorgeous live wallpapers for Mac

Looking for new Mac desktop imagery? Downlink is a nifty menu bar app that aims to provide you with instant access to a collection of wallpapers for macOS, created using live feeds from a trio of satellites to provide the “freshest images of Earth” possible.

I became aware of Downlink through Relay FM’s Stephen Hackett, who showed off the app during a video tour of his Mac setup this week — more on why he was doing that video stream in the first place here. Downlink lives in your Mac’s menu bar and gives you real-time satellite imagery on your desktop.

Downlink generates its satellite imagery from GOES-16, GOES-17, and Himawari-8. The first two are satellites operated by NASA and NOAA, while the Himawari-8 is a Japanese weather satellite. Every 20 minutes, Downlink automatically updates your Mac desktop background with the latest images from these satellites.

There are a handful of default views provided in the Downlink app, but you can also create your own views and zoom in closer to your home or just pick your favorite spot.

Watch sunlight and weather patterns move across Earth throughout the day, and bask in the glory of our blue marble in real time. Every 20 minutes (or every hour, you pick), Downlink updates your desktop background with the freshest images of Earth.

Choose from different views of Earth, from close ups of the tropics, to the continental US, to the absolutely stunning full disk images from 3 different geostationary satellites. You can even create your own views — zoom in close on where you live, pick your favorite hemisphere, or pick somewhere else beautiful!

Going forward, Downlink will add new sources as they become available. So far, developer Anthony Colangelo has been unable to find any open and available data sources for Europe or Africa that meet the necessary image quality requirements and refresh frequency.

Downlink is available on the Mac App Store for free. If you’re always looking for new Mac wallpapers and have an interest in space — or at least space photography — it’s definitely worth checking out.

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