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How to change your wallpaper on Mac

In this simple guide, we will show you different ways to change your Mac wallpaper, so you can breathe some new life into your computer’s aesthetics.

A green blue picture as MacBook

You can use your own photos or choose from a selection of preloaded wallpapers. There are five easy ways to do that.

Method 1: From Finder

  1. Go to the location where your wallpaper file is saved. It could be downloads, desktop, or any other folder on your Mac.
  2. Right-click or Control-click over the image file and select Set Desktop Picture.

Right-click on an image file in Finder and select Set Desktop Picture

Method 2: From the Photos app

  1. Open the Photos app on your Mac.
  2. Double-click an image to enlarge it.
  3. Click the Share button from the top right and choose Set Wallpaper. Alternatively, from the top menu bar, click File > Share > Set Wallpaper.

Click the share icon for an image in Mac

Method 3: Use Drag and drop

  1. Open System Settings on your Mac and select Wallpaper from the left sidebar.
  2. Drag an image from your desktop or a Finder folder and drop it over the current wallpaper thumbnail to set that picture as the new wallpaper.

Drag and drop an image from Desktop on the current wallpaper thumbnail to set it as the new Mac desktop background

Method 4: From Safari

  1. Visit the web page that has the image you want to use as your Mac’s background.
  2. Right-click on the photo and select Use Image as Desktop Picture.

Use Image as Desktop Picture in Safari on Mac

Method 5: From System Settings

1) Go to System Settings and select Wallpaper. In addition to that, you can right-click on the desktop and choose Change Wallpaper.

2) Use the Show All button next to a heading to see all wallpapers of its category and click the desired option to immediately set it as your Mac’s desktop background:

Wallpaper in Mac System Settings

Dynamic Wallpapers: These images change their appearance throughout the day to match your location. Just make sure it says Dynamic in the drop-down menu next to the wallpaper name. Alternatively, you can click the drop-down menu and select Light (Still) or Dark (Still), and then this wallpaper will not shift its color throughout the day. Learn more: 3 ways to change Mac wallpaper automatically

Stock Dynamic Wallpapers on Mac

Notes:

  • If your Mac’s Location Services is turned off, the Dynamic Wallpaper will change based on your computer’s time zone and Date & Time settings.
  • If your Mac is already in Dark Mode, the selected Dynamic Wallpaper will default to Dark (Still). But you can click the drop-down menu from the top and choose Dynamic (or Light (Still)).
  • You will see a download icon for some wallpapers in the Dynamic, Light & Still, and Pictures sections. Select that wallpaper and hit Download to get it on your Mac. Further down the line, you can right-click on the downloaded wallpaper (without selecting it first because that will set it as the current wallpaper) and choose Remove Download to free space on your Mac.

Light & Dark Wallpapers: The wallpapers under this section change their look based on the Dark Mode settings of your Mac. As a result, when your Mac is in Dark Mode, these wallpapers will adjust accordingly to become darker.

Light and Dark stock wallpapers on Mac

Pictures: This section has various stock Apple wallpapers and even some from older macOS versions.

Stock Apple Pictures wallpapers on Mac

Colors: Pick a solid color as your Mac desktop wallpaper. You can select one of the dots or hit the plus button (+) and pick from millions of colors.

Solid colors as Mac desktop background

Add Folder: Hit this button to add a Finder folder to the Wallpaper section of Mac’s System Settings and use the image inside that folder as the wallpaper. You can also select Auto-Rotate and have all pictures of that folder shuffle as your Mac’s wallpaper.

Add Photo Album: Click this button and select all photos or an existing album or people from your Mac’s Photos app. After that, you can use one of its pictures, and it will become the wallpaper, or hit the Auto-Rotate button.

Add Folder and Add Photo Album to Mac Wallpaper screen

Note: After selecting a picture from a folder or the Photos app as the wallpaper, click the drop-down menu from the top and select Fill Screen, Fit to Screen, Stretch to Fill Screen, or Center. For vertical photos, you pick Center or Fit to Screen and then choose a solid color for the remaining area.

Fit to Screen wallpaper with colored sides on Mac

Is the desktop wallpaper blurry?

A wallpaper you select under Dynamic, Light & Dark, or Pictures will always be crisp and of high quality. However, if you use a small, less resolution, or low-quality picture as the desktop wallpaper, it will appear blurry or pixelated. So make sure your image is of high resolution (at the very least 1920 x 1080 pixels or above).

Looking for high-quality Mac background options? Be sure to check out our Wallpapers section, where we have put together some awesome wallpaper collections covering a wide range of different categories.

Can’t set an image as your Mac’s wallpaper?

  • Make sure the image you are trying to set as the wallpaper is in JPEG, PNG, HEIC, PICT, or TIFF format.
  • Wait a few seconds, as some old Macs can take a while for the new wallpaper to show.
  • Restart your Mac.

Do you use multiple Desktop Spaces?

If you use multiple Desktop Spaces, you will have to change the wallpaper of each space separately. Simply go on that Space and follow the above methods to set a wallpaper.

On some older Macs, even after you change the wallpaper, it may not appear on the desktop unless you switch to another Space and switch back to it.

Related tips:

  • 3 ways to create a screen saver shortcut on Mac
  • How to create Dynamic Wallpapers for Mac
  • How to prevent your Mac from changing the wallpaper after a restart