How to Make Your iPhone or iPad Look Fresh with a New Wallpaper

  • Jessie Thomas
  • 2019-18-Nov

How great a good wallpaper looks on the screen of a new iPad or iPhone 11 Pro! It’s always been a great way to personalize your device with custom wallpapers, and it’s possible on iDevices as well. Here is the instruction on how to set your own picture as a wallpaper on your home screen.

Built-in Wallpapers

Any actual model of iPhone comes with a set of changeable wallpapers already. Apple is all about design, so all of them are perfectly crafted and optimized for this very device you are holding in your hand now. It’s also easily accessible, so you can spend 30 seconds a day and have brand new wallpapers daily. Here is how it is done in iOS 13:

  1. Launch Settings (the gear icon on your home screen).
  2. Go to Wallpaper. You won’t have to scroll: this section appears right as you open Settings.
  3. If the two default options you are shown don’t satisfy your wish, tap “Choose a New Wallpaper” above them. Then you will enter three more sections for Dynamic, Stills, and Live wallpapers (and your gallery below them, but we’ll talk on it later).
  4. Tap the thumbnail to open the section you want. If you can’t find anything worthy in it, tap “Choose” in the left upper corner to return a level higher.
  5. If you like some thumbnail in the section, tap it to see the full screen view. For Live wallpapers, swipe on the screen to see them react. (A spoiler: it’s beautiful). For Dynamic wallpapers, just sit and watch the picture change. It sounds like watching paint drying, but in fact it’s more fun, and under the icons, in the background, it looks greater.
  6. Press “Set” to set the wallpaper. When prompted where you want to set it, you can select “Lock Screen”, “Home Screen”, or “Both”. If you change your mind, tap “Cancel”.
  7. Return to your home screen to see the way your icons look on this wallpaper. If you don’t like it – choose another wallpaper the way described above. If you want different pictures on your Home and Lock screens, repeat the procedure for each of them separately, choosing the destination screen in the end. The next two steps are not that necessary, but they can help you to finalize the adjustment.
  8. Return to Settings and then go to Display & Brightness.
  9. Select between Light and Dark modes to choose the one that looks best to you.

Though this instruction is written for iOS 13, its logic remains the same on early versions of iOS. On earlier versions, though, the wallpapers are not as impressive, and Live features may be missing. You need to have iPhone 6S or later to enjoy Live or Dynamic wallpapers, though there are exceptions – iPhone SE and iPhone XR. Still, the updates, not relying on 3D touch engine anymore, may fix it for them.

Custom Wallpapers

In fact, in iOS 13 you can set any photo from your gallery as a wallpaper. Of course, it will be static, and you will have to care about how the icons look on it, but this possibility is still great. So, any picture you get to your gallery can be used on your home or lock screen.

Assume the photo is already there. So what do you need to do to set a picture as a wallpaper?

  1. Follow steps 1-3 from the instruction above. In your Settings/Wallpaper/Choose a New Wallpaper you can access your entire gallery, either by smart folders or as the list of all the photos.
  2. Select the photo you like, from “All Photos” or from any smart folder.
  3. Move it with a swipe or zoom with two fingers to trim it the best way. You must keep in mind, though, that you cannot leave a part of your display uncovered: the fragment you select should cover the entire screen.
  4. When you trim the photo, keep in mind that the dock remains in the bottom on any tab of your home screen, so the lower part of your photo will be hidden when it’s used as a wallpaper. It’s so with both iPhone and iPad, so the final impression may differ from what you see as a preview.
  5. On finding the optimal view, tap “Set” in the right lower corner and select whether you want this wallpaper for home screen, for lock screen, or for both.

Again, this is the instruction for iOS 13. On earlier versions, the logic is similar, but some features (like live photo support) may be missing.

You can also prepare your perfect wallpapers on your desktop and then share it with your iPhone or iPad via iTunes (or Finder, if you are on OS X Catalina). Check the resolution of the screen of your model before trimming the image, to make it fit perfectly.

Wallpaper Providers

But probably the best way to make your iPhone look individual is using special apps for handling wallpapers. These apps deliver thousands of ready-made images optimized as wallpapers, beautiful, and well combinable with icons.

  1. The algorithm of working with these apps is similar:
  2. Install the app from App Store and launch it. It will prompt you to provide access to your Gallery and Settings. Grant this access to it.
  3. Launch the app to access its cloud library of pictures. Select one to download it and use as your wallpaper.
  4. If the app has its own editor, you can use it to blur or sharpen the image, invert it, or do anything. These editors, though, have few features.
  5. Apply the changes to use the selected wallpaper or wallpapers.

The advantage of these apps is that you won’t have to worry about compatibility, size, resolution, or DPI. It detects the model of your iPhone or iPad and offers you compatible wallpapers only. On the other hand, many of these apps are paid, and they require a subscription for you to access updated libraries, or a single payment to remove the watermark.

We recommend you Vellum Wallpapers, Papers.co (great single-pay options), or Everpix (a rich service that requires subscription). Still, there are others that you may prefer. Finally, you can find lots of fitting images on Flickr, Pinterest, and other free social media.

A Bit of History

It’s been since the feature phone era that the owner of the phone could set the desired picture as the wallpaper. Not only did it look very cool (imagine custom wallpapers in 2002, on Windows Mobile or Symbian, and then on any phone long before iPhones and Androids!), but also helped you personalize your device.

But all this customization required a little fiddling with your device file system, or even hacking it. No wonder when the first iPhone with its locked file system was released, this feature was not as easy. On the original iPhone you could not change the wallpaper at all; this changed with iOS 2.0… or with jailbreak. It’s so easier now, with built-in wallpaper manager, great camera, and image-centered social media.

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