How to Customize Your Android Wallpaper

Android 4.4 (Jelly Bean) wallpaper settings


One of the greatest things about Android-based phones is their open architecture. Basically, what this means is that Android is an open platform that allows anyone with the know-how to create apps for Android phones. But for the vast majority of us Android phone owners, an open platform means that we have choices when it comes to how our phones look, operate, sound, and what they can do.

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.


Nothing makes your phone yours more so than the wallpaper you choose. Though the custom wallpapers on Androids may be appealing, they are far from personalized. Android phones come with three options for wallpapers, although on more recent models they don't necessarily break them down this way:

  • Gallery or "My Photos" -This option uses your personal pictures that you have either taken with your phone's camera or have downloaded and saved in your Gallery.
  • Live Wallpapers -These animated wallpapers give an added dimension of movement to your wallpaper. Though these can be battery and processor hogs, they can give your phone the "wow" factor that many people are looking for. While Samsung manages the Live Wallpapers well and has some very interesting choices, we found that the stock Live Wallpapers for the HTC and Motorola were a bit bland. We also feel that Live Wallpapers draw the battery down very quickly, so think twice about Live Wallpapers on the Droid. 
  • Wallpapers -The final choice is just using a stock image for your wallpaper. These stock images are usually very good photographs. 

The process involved in changing your wallpaper is very simple and take just a few steps. On most recent Android phones:

  1. Open your phone's Settings app.

    Android wallpaper settings
  2. Locate and select Display in the list of available settings.

  3. The display settings contain plenty of options to customize the look and feel of your phone. Here, you'll find the Wallpaper settings. Select them.

  4. Your device will give you a list of places to set your wallpaper from. Generally, the Gallery and Wallpapers are the best choices. This guide will use Wallpapers, so select it.

  5. You'll arrive in a basic app that lets you scroll through a list of installed wallpapers at the bottom of your screen. The main body of the screen will change to display your selected wallpaper. Take a look through, and see if anything interests you.

    Select Android wallpaper images

    If you'd prefer something more custom, choose My photos in the same list. It should be at the very beginning.

  6. Your phone will switch over to your file browser. Use the three stacked lines in the upper left of your screen to open the menu. Select Images at the top of the menu.

  7. Now, you'll see a list of potential image locations to browse. If you know where your background image is stored, browse to it. Tap on the thumbnail of your image when you find it.

    Set Android wallpaper
  8. Your phone will return you to that original Wallpapers screen. Your chosen image will be at the front of your wallpaper list and selected. To make the change stick, press Set wallpaper in the upper left of your screen.

  9. Your chosen wallpaper will now be applied on your phone's home screen.

The Shortcut

This only works on more recent Android devices, but the number is growing pretty rapidly, and should probably include your phone.

  1. Long-press on your existing wallpaper on your home screen. (Long-press means you hold your finger down until you feel a feedback vibration.)

    Android wallpaper shortcut
  2. Tap Wallpapers. 

  3. Browse the existing choices of wallpaper and live wallpapers at the bottom of the screen or tap My Photos to choose a photo from your gallery. Live wallpapers no longer look any different than standard wallpapers from a browsing perspective, but the final wallpaper will be interactive. 

  4. Tap Set Wallpaper to finish the process. 

Once you set your wallpaper, you will be brought back to the main screen where you will be able to admire the new, customized look of your Android smartphone's appearance. Go through the same steps anytime you want to change the look again. 

Finding New Wallpapers

To find a practically unlimited number of wallpapers, do a search on the Google Play for wallpapers. There are several free apps available for download that will give you access to thousands of free wallpapers.

If you'd prefer to get your wallpapers more directly, you can always download your own images directly on your phone or get them on your PC and transfer them to your phone over a USB cable. All the wallpaper images in this guide come from Unsplash. You can get high resolution images there completely free of charge. Android screens are becoming higher resolution with each release, requiring equally high-res images to look crisp and clear. That might be something to consider in choosing where to get your next wallpaper from.