How to Change MacBook Wallpaper

Give your MacBook’s desktop a new look with fresh wallpaper

What to Know

  • Go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver to change your MacBook wallpaper.
  • Right-click anywhere on desktop > Change Desktop Background to quickly go to Desktop & Screen Saver settings.
  • Right-click the image you want to use and click Set Desktop Picture to immediately change your MacBook's wallpaper.

This article explains how to change MacBook wallpaper to an image provided by Apple, a solid background color, or a picture of your choice.

How Do I Customize My MacBook Desktop?

One of the fastest and easiest ways to customize your MacBook is by changing your desktop wallpaper to an image you love, whether it's one Apple provided or a photo from your collection. You can always opt for a solid background color if that's more your style, but the choice is yours.

You can change your background by following these steps. If you can't decide which picture you like most, you can even set up your wallpaper so it rotates through select images throughout the day.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen, and select System Preferences.

    System Preferences highlighted in a MacBook Apple menu
  2. Click Desktop & Screen Saver.

    System Preferences MacBook with Desktop & Screen Saver highlighted

    An even faster way to access your Desktop & Screen Saver settings is by right-clicking anywhere and selecting Change Desktop Background. You can also right-click on the image you want as your wallpaper, and click Set Desktop Picture to see immediate changes.

  3. Click Desktop Pictures, Solid Colors, or Folders > Pictures. If your Pictures folder is empty, click the + icon on the bottom left of the window to add images from another file.

    Desktop & Screen Saver settings MacBook with Desktop Pictures, Solid Colors, and Folders highlighted
  4. Select an image you like from Desktop Pictures, Solid Colors, or Folders.

    Desktop & Screen Saver picture upload with selected picture highlighted
  5. If you want your wallpaper to change throughout the day, click the box next to Change picture and select how often from the drop-down menu. Your wallpaper will rotate among other images in the folder you selected. If you check the box next to Random Order, your wallpaper will be randomly shuffled.

    Wallpaper selection box with Change Picture, Random Order, and timing options highlighted
  6. Your desktop will automatically display your newly selected wallpaper or wallpapers.

    MacBook wallpaper

Why Can’t I Change the Desktop Background on My MacBook?

If you’re having difficulty changing your desktop background on your MacBook, here are a few suggestions to help resolve the issue.

  •  If you’ve selected an image from the Internet or one of your own photos, first make sure that the file is saved in an accepted format. This includes JPEG, PICT, TIFF, or PNG.
  • Press command + shift + G. In the pop-up window type in /Library/Desktop Pictures and make sure there are images in this folder.
  • If the desktop background you picked isn’t showing up when you turn on your computer or restart, make sure that your image was stored on your startup disk. According to Apple, “images stored on a different disk might not load reliably after restarting your Mac, depending on how quickly the other disk becomes available after startup.”
FAQ
  • How do I change the lock screen wallpaper on a MacBook?

    If you want to change your lock screen, but keep your desktop background image (wallpaper) the same, open the image you want to use. Double-click the image name at the top of the Preview window and rename the image lockscreen.png. Next, open Finder and select Go > Go to folder. In the pop-up, type /Library/Caches and click Go. Open the Desktop Picture folder, then open the folder labeled with numbers and letters. Drag the new lockscreen.png image into this folder; it will replace your old lockscreen.png. You'll see the new lock screen wallpaper next time you log in following a restart. Note that if you change your desktop wallpaper, your lock screen wallpaper will automatically show the new desktop wallpaper image.

  • How do I make my own wallpaper on a Mac?

    Third-party tools allow you to create custom wallpaper on your Mac. For example, the graphics platform Canva has a tool for making your own custom wallpaper. You can also find custom wallpaper templates from Adobe Spark that allow you to modify hundreds of pre-made designs with personalized elements.

  • How do you make a GIF of your wallpaper on a Mac?

    If you want to set an animated GIF as your wallpaper, you'll need to rely on a third-party program, as macOS doesn't support this feature on its own. First, search for or create an animated GIF and save it to your Mac. (If you need help, check out our article on free GIF makers.) Next, download and install a program like GIFPaper or Animated GIF. Follow the prompts to open and save your GIF as a Mac screensaver. Note that animations such as these are likely to drain your CPU's power, so things may run more slowly. Animated GIFs as screensavers aren't recommended on older, slower computers.

Was this page helpful?