iPhones and iPads offer less scope for user customisation than their Google Android equivalents, but one thing that’s easy to change about the interface is the background wallpaper picture on the lock and Home screens.
We show how to achieve this in a few quick steps, including dynamic moving wallpapers, perspective effects that make the wallpaper shift as you rotate the device, and animated Live Photos. Plus, we list some places where you can find new wallpaper images online. And here’s
how to make your own iPhone and iPad wallpapers.
For related advice for Mac users, see
How to change the desktop wallpaper on a Mac.
How to change the wallpaper on iPad and iPhone
Changing the wallpaper on your iOS device is simple, and requires the same method whether you’re using an iPad or iPhone.
Open the Settings app. Tap Wallpaper, then Choose a New Wallpaper.
You’ll be presented with a number of options. At the top, you’ll see the built-in wallpapers that Apple provides, divided into Dynamic (which move), Stills (which don’t) and Live (which animate when you do a hard-press on the screen, but will only appear if you have an iPhone that supports this feature).
Beneath these default options you’ll see your own photo collections, which can also be used as wallpapers.
Tapping the Dynamic icon will open up another menu with several colour variants of the current bubble style wallpaper.
The reason these are called dynamic is that they move around the screen. The animations are also interactive, thanks to the Perspective Zoom feature. With this turned on you’ll see that if you tilt the display the bubbles will change position, as if you’re floating above or below them.
Select one and you’ll see a preview of how it will look on your device.
If you like what you see, tap the relevant option at the bottom of the screen. You can set the image to appear on either the lock screen, your Home screen, or both.
Selecting Stills will open up a selection of static images that Apple provides with every iOS device.
These will perfectly fit to the dimensions of your display, no matter the orientation, and once again can be set to either appear on the lock screen, Home screen, or both.
You also get the choice of Still or Perspective. The former keeps the image static, but the Perspective effect makes it move around subtly beneath the icons as you rotate your device. Tap and move your phone around to see how that looks.
Tap Live and you’ll see the Live Photos currently offered for your device. (If there’s no option for Live, your device doesn’t support this feature.) Tap one of these and you’ll see a preview, which you can press to trigger the animation.
As usual, set it on the lock screen, Home screen, or both. And you now get three options for how it displays: Still, Perspective and Live Photo. Only the last one animates.
Using your own photos as wallpaper
Images of planets, landscapes and exploding flour are all fine and dandy, but if you want to really personalise your iOS device then a photo you’ve taken yourself is an excellent way to go.
To do this you’ll need to ignore the Dynamic, Stills and Live options and scroll down to the various photo collections you’ll see listed below.
Select one that contains images you think will work, bearing in mind that, depending on your device, it may need to be big enough to work in multiple orientations without getting horribly cropped. Ideally, you’ll also want your wallpaper to be HD, so that it looks sharp on your Retina display. Most modern smartphones take high-quality images, so this shouldn’t be a problem, but older or scanned items might appear a bit grainy.
The best way to find out is just to choose an image and see how it looks.
In the preview mode you’ll be able to move the image around and zoom in and out until you find the best placement. Once you’re happy, you can choose where it appears: Lock Screen, Home Screen, or Both. And you can choose from Still, Perspective and (if it’s a Live Photo) Live display options.
Remember that busy images can look great on the empty Lock Screen, but make it hard to read app names when on the Home screen. So experiment with a few images to see what works best for you.
Where can I get new wallpapers for my iPad or iPhone?
If you don’t fancy any of the stock Apple offerings, and can’t find a photo that quite matches your mood, then there are plenty of options online.
Opening Safari, or any other browser, and searching for iPhone wallpaper or iPad wallpaper will return a huge number of images. Be sure to tap on the Images section of the results, then look for one that catches your eye.
When you’ve found one, tap on it to bring it up on the screen, then tap and hold until a menu appears. Top of the list should be Save Image. Tap this and the wallpaper will be saved to your Photos.
Now, just repeat the steps listed above and you’ll have a new backdrop for your device.
Alternatively you could also head to the App Store and search for wallpaper apps.
There are quite a few on there, so it’s worth taking your time and reading the reviews from other users to see which ones are the best. We suggest putting the kettle on and finding a comfy chair, as once you start perusing, you might find you’re there for quite a while.
You can also
download the iPhone 12 wallpapers and install them on your iPhone.