How to Change Home Screen Wallpaper on Apple Devices

2 minute read
| How-To

Your wallpaper is the easiest way to personalize your device, and we’ll show you how to change the home screen wallpaper on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

How to Change Home Screen Wallpaper on iPhone and iPad

Changing your home screen wallpaper is the same on both of these devices. Apple split off the iPad into its own operating system, iPadOS. But it’s based on the iPhone operating system, iOS.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Wallpaper.
  3. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.

Apple has some default wallpapers that are preloaded onto every iPhone and iPad. Dynamic wallpapers feature floating orbs that move gracefully across the screen. Under Stills you’ll find wallpapers that are not animated. If you have iOS 13 you’ll see special wallpapers with a circle icon. These wallpapers have a light version and dark version for when you enable/disable Dark Mode.

Image of settings on iPadOS to change home screen wallpaper.

You’ll see a section called Live wallpapers. These are activated through 3D Touch by pressing on the screen to make them animate. Apple has phased out 3D Touch on newer iPhones in favor of Haptic Touch, but you should still see it on these newer devices.

Below the default wallpaper selections you’ll see all of your albums in the photos app listed. Here is where you can choose a wallpaper from your photos. It can be your own photo or a wallpaper you’ve downloaded from the internet (more on that below).

Find the wallpaper you like from an album. When you tap on a picture, you’ll get a chance to preview how it looks, move and scale it around (use your fingers to pinch and zoom), and change the perspective. If Perspective Zoom (the middle button) is on, it will enable a parallax effect that slightly moves the wallpaper when you turn your iPhone.

When you tap the Set button, you’ll see a menu that lets you set the wallpaper for your lock screen, home screen, or both. This means that your lock screen wallpaper can be different than your home screen wallpaper if you so choose.

How to Change Home Screen Wallpaper on Mac

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Desktop & Screensaver.

Like iOS, here you’ll see a bunch of default wallpapers for the Mac. Dynamic wallpapers change based on the time of day, while the Desktop wallpapers are still images. In the left menu you’ll see an option to choose an album from the photos app, or a folder in Finder. Clicking on the plus button below the menu will let you choose a folder that contains pictures.

image of system preferences on macOS to change home screen wallpaper.

Unlike iOS, here you’ll also see an option to change the wallpaper under certain conditions, from every five seconds to every day. Or, change the wallpaper every time your Mac wakes up from sleep, or every time you log in.

Here’s a trick: You can open Finder, find a picture you want, then drag and drop it onto the preview box in System Preferences, and it will instantly set that image as the wallpaper.

Where to Find Wallpapers

Now that you know how to change the home screen wallpaper on your Apple devices, where can you find wallpapers? One website I like to use is called Unsplash. These are free, high-quality photos that photographers upload to the website. You’ll find various collections of images, or type what you want into the search bar. Another option of course is to go to your favorite search engine and look for wallpapers.

Someone has also created a Google Photos album that lists all iOS wallpapers ever released with each update.

You can also find wallpaper apps in the Mac App Store. I reviewed one of them called Earth 3D which gives you live wallpapers. There are many more apps to discover.

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