How to Use Live Wallpapers on Your iPhone

Live wallpaper on iPhone
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Changing your iPhone wallpaper is a fun and easy way to make your phone reflect your personality and interests. But still photos can be so boring! You can add movement to your home screen and lock screen wallpapers by using Live Wallpapers and Dynamic Wallpapers on your iPhone.

Read on to discover what Live and Dynamic Wallpapers are, how they're different, how to use them, where to get them, and more.

The tips in this article apply to every iPhone that use Live Photos. This is the iPhone 6S and newer, including the iPhone XS and XR, but does not include the iPhone SE.

What Are Live Wallpapers and Dynamic Wallpapers, and How Are They Different?

Dynamic, Stills, and Live photos in Wallpaper settings on iOS

Live Wallpapers and Dynamic Wallpapers both add movement to your iPhone's home screen and lock screen. And while both of them deliver eye-catching animations, they're not the same thing. Here's what makes them different:

  • Live Wallpapers: These wallpapers seem like still images until you long-press the screen. When you do this, they come to life and start to move. Live Wallpapers need the 3D Touch screen in order to be activated with a long-press, so they're only available on the iPhone 6S and newer. Another limitation is that the animation only works on the Lock screen. On the Home screen, Live wallpapers just look like still images.
  • Dynamic Wallpapers: These are more like short video clips that play on a loop. They work on both the Home and Lock screens. They don't require the 3D Touch screen to work. Instead, they just work on any iPhone running iOS 7 or newer. Unfortunately, you can't easily add your own Dynamic Wallpapers, as we'll see.

How to Set Live Wallpapers and Dynamic Wallpapers on the iPhone

Wallpaper, Choose a New Wallpaper, and Dynamic/Stills/Live in iOS Settings

To use Live Wallpapers or Dynamic Wallpapers on your iPhone, just follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Wallpaper.
  3. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.
  4. Tap Dynamic or Live, depending on which kind of wallpaper you want.
  5. Tap one you like to see a fullscreen preview.
  6. For Live Wallpapers, tap and hold on the screen to see it animate. For Dynamic Wallpapers, just wait and it will animate.
  7. When you've found a wallpaper you want to use, tap Set.
  8. Choose how you'll use the wallpaper by tapping Set Lock Screen, Set Home Screen, or Set Both.
Dynamic wallpapers, Set, and Set Lock Screen/Home Screen/Both buttons in iOS

How To Use Live and Dynamic Wallpapers on iPhone

Three iOS screens showing Dynamic and Live photos on lock screen, and Dynamic photo on Home Screen on iPhone

Once you've set your new wallpaper, it's easy to see it in action. Here's what to do:

  1. Lock your phone by pressing the on/off button on the top or right side, depending on your model.
  2. Tap or raise the screen to wake the phone, but don't unlock it. 
  3. What happens next depends on what kind of wallpaper you're using:
    1. Dynamic: Don't do anything. The animation simply plays on the Lock or Home screen.
    2. Live: On the Lock screen, tap and hold until the image starts moving.

How to Use Live Photos as Wallpaper

Live Photos album, Live Photo, Set button in iOS

You don't have to be limited to the Live Wallpapers that come pre-installed on the iPhone. In fact, you can use any Live Photos that are already on your phone as Live Wallpapers.

Of course, this also means you need to have a Live Photo already on your phone. Read Everything You Need to Know About iPhone Live Photos to learn more. Once you've got some Live Photos, just follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap ​Wallpaper.
  3. Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.
  4. Tap the Live Photos album.
  5. Tap a Live Photo to select it.
  6. Tap Set.
  7. Tap Set Lock Screen, Set Home Screen, or Set Both, depending on where you want to use the photo.

Go to the Home or Lock screen to view the new wallpaper. Remember, this is Live Wallpaper, not Dynamic, so it will only animate on the Lock screen.

Where to Get More Live and Dynamic Wallpapers

Live Wallpapers from Live Wallpapers & HD Themes app

If you like the ways that Live and Dynamic Wallpapers add spice to your iPhone, you may want to find wallpapers other than the ones that come pre-loaded on the iPhone.

If you're a big fan of Dynamic Wallpapers, I have bad news: you can't add your own (without jailbreaking, at least). Apple doesn't allow it. However, if you prefer Live Wallpapers, there are lots of sources of new images, including:

  • Google: Search for something like "iphone live wallpapers" (or other, similar terms) and you'll find a ton of sites offering free downloads.
  • Apps: There are a lot of apps in the App Store that deliver tons of free wallpapers. A few to check out include:

You can also create your own video wallpapers using custom videos you record with your phone. That's a great way to customize your phone in a fun, unique way.