If you’re looking to personalise your iOS device, there are essentially two main options. The first is to buy a case or decal that displays the art, words, style or characters you love, such as those you’ll find in our Best iPhone X cases roundup.
The other is to create your own wallpaper, which can then adorn the Lock and Home screens of your iPhone or iPad. So, how is it done? We show you a few different ways to quickly make backdrops that will give your iOS device the personal touch.
What size does the wallpaper need to be?
Before you begin creating wallpaper, it’s important to know the dimensions that fit your device, especially if you use one of the higher-level editing tools listed below. There’s no point crafting a beautiful image if half of it gets chopped off the minute you apply it to your screen.
Two measurements are applicable here: the screen resolution (how many pixels appear on the screen in total) and the aspect ratio (the proportion of height to width).
You’ll also need to take into account how you hold your device. iPhones, for the most part, tend to be used in portrait mode (with the longest side pointing upwards), while iPads are often used in landscape instead. Wallpapers don’t turn and resize, so use the dimensions that most suit the way you use your iPad or iPhone.
For the current range of iOS devices, these are the dimensions you’ll require.
- iPhone SE : 1136 x 640 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- iPhone 6s/7/8 : 1334 x 750 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- iPhone 6s Plus/7 Plus/8 Plus: 1920 x 1080 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- iPhone X : 2436 x 1125 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- iPad mini (all models) : 2048 x 1536 resolution; 4:3 aspect ratio
- iPad (9.7in) : 2048 x 1536 resolution; 4:3 aspect ratio
- iPad Pro (10.5in) : 2224 x 1668 resolution; 4:3 aspect ratio
- iPad Pro (12.9in) : 2732 x 2048 resolution; 4:3 aspect ratio
Creating new wallpapers by using screenshots
If you don’t want to mess about with resolutions or editing apps, then the easiest way to create bespoke wallpapers on your device is to use the screenshot option.
This will capture whatever image is currently displayed, and the basic editing tools allow you to get rid of any extraneous details.
To use this, find an image on the web that you want to use, remembering that it needs to be tall if you’re using it in portrait or wide for landscape. Tap and hold the picture until you see the context menu appear, then tap Save Image.
Open Photos and select the image. Use two fingers to zoom and position the picture so that it fills the screen in a way you find agreeable. Now, press the On/Off button at the same time as the Home button and you’ll create a screenshot. iPhone X owners need to press the Side button and Volume up simultaneously, as there’s obviously no Home button available.
Tap the mini image that appears in the bottom left corner to open up the editing options. Now you can add text, trim the edges, or leave it exactly as it is if you’re already happy. Tap Done in the upper right corner and the image will be saved to your Photo library.
Finally, open Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper, then select the freshly minted image as your new backdrop.
For more details on the editing tools available, read our How to take a screenshot on any iPhone feature.
Creating wallpapers using third-party apps
There are a number of third-party apps that allow you to create wallpapers with specific dimensions, orientations, and styles. As you’d expect, they all behave in different ways, and as such you’d need to follow the directions and tutorials each one provides.
Pixelmator (£4.99/$4.99) is a fully featured photo editor as well as art package that allows users to create original ideas. You can use paintbrush styles that range from oils to watercolours, and there’s even pixel art for those retro 80s computer graphical flourishes. Support for Apple Pencil makes it a great choice for iPad users in particular.
Enlight (£3.99/$3.99) can turn your photos into incredibly cool-looking wallpaper art that blends templates, shapes and pictures together. The results can look highly original, but you’ll need to spend time in the tutorials if you want to get to grips with all that’s on offer. We recommend you do, though, as it’s a very powerful app.
Lastly, for those who prefer to use words as the dominant feature in their backdrops, Typorama is an excellent way to set quotes against picturesque images. The fonts, layouts and general toolset make it easy to produce professional-looking wallpapers that not only inspire but wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard in Paperchase.
To get started with Typorama, open the app and select whether you want to use Stock Images or your own photo. You can then scroll the menu at the bottom of the screen until you see the option for iPhone Wallpaper. Select this, highlight the area of the image you want to use, then tap Next.
Now you can choose the style of text, enter your words of wisdom, then apply various effects such as colours, shadows and gradients.
All wallpapers in the free version come with a Typorama watermark, but this can be removed if you move up to the premium version.
When you’re happy with the finished image, tap Ok, Share! in the top right corner, then select Save and Done.
Now if you go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper, you’ll find the finished image ready to use.
You can also download the iPhone 12 wallpapers.