- Dynamic wallpaper is a type of desktop wallpaper that changes its appearance throughout the day based on the time of day or the geographical location.
- Even though Apple bundles dynamic wallpapers with its latest release (macOS Big Sur), the collection is quite limited.
- As a solution to this, you can find and download dynamic desktops from third-party dynamic wallpaper sites. Alternatively, you can create custom dynamic wallpapers using your own images.
Dynamic wallpaper is a type of desktop wallpaper that changes its appearance based on the time of day or the geographical location. It first debuted on macOS with the launch of macOS Catalina and has since then led to the emergence of several dynamic wallpaper websites on the internet.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of these websites from where you can download the macOS dynamic wallpaper of your choice. We’ll also cover the steps required to set dynamic wallpapers on Mac and create your own dynamic wallpapers.
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Best Dynamic Wallpaper Sites for Mac
Apple includes a bunch of dynamic wallpapers in its current macOS release, macOS Big Sur. Seven of these wallpapers are fully dynamic that change their appearance multiple times throughout the day, while the rest only have a dual appearance—light and dark—that changes only twice a day.
If you’re into dynamic backgrounds and want more options, below are some of the best third-party dynamic wallpaper sites to find dynamic Mac wallpapers.
Dynamic Wallpaper Club is the first platform for dynamic Mac wallpapers that emerged with the launch of macOS Mojave. It’s completely free to use and has a pretty decent collection of dynamic wallpapers, including those in 5K resolution.
Simply hover over a dynamic wallpaper on the site to preview its appearance progression throughout the day and hit the download button to save it to your Mac.
Besides featuring free-to-download wallpapers, Dynamic Wallpaper Club also lets you create custom dynamic wallpapers. First, of course, you need to have the correct EXIF data for the files you want to use for your wallpaper.
Dynwalls is another dynamic wallpaper site for Mac that offers a collection of some of the best-looking dynamic wallpapers. If you’re into wallpapers inspired by the space, you can find some really good dynamic ones on the site.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that Dynwalls only has a handful of wallpaper options for its free tier as of now. You can, however, subscribe to Dynwalls on Patreon to get access to their latest wallpapers and updates.
24 Hour Wallpaper is a dynamic wallpaper app for both Mac and Windows. It has a pretty broad catalog of dynamic wallpapers spread majorly into two categories: nature and city. All wallpapers are available to download in up to 5K resolution.
Unlike the other two websites, 24 Hour Wallpaper only lets you download three wallpapers for free—access to the rest of the collection requires you to purchase a one-time subscription.
Moreover, it also comes built-in with its own wallpaper engine: ProTime engine. So you can use it instead of Apple’s dynamic desktop engine to fine-tune your wallpaper’s settings and make the most of dynamic desktop on Mac. That’s why it makes it to our top 3 list of websites to download dynamic wallpapers.
24 Hour Wallpaper is also available on the Mac App Store.
How to Set Dynamic Wallpapers on Mac
Setting dynamic wallpaper as a desktop picture on Mac is pretty straightforward.
Once you’ve downloaded your desired dynamic wallpaper, create a new folder and move the wallpaper to this directory. Next, follow the steps below to set it as your desktop background:
- Open System Preferences and select Desktop & Screen Saver.
- On the Desktop tab, tap the plus (+) button at the bottom.
- Use the Finder to navigate to the folder where you saved your dynamic wallpaper, and hit Choose.
- If you added the correct folder, you should see your dynamic wallpaper(s) inside it on the Desktop & Screen Saver window. Click on a wallpaper to set it as your dynamic desktop wallpaper.
Alternatively, if the above method doesn’t work, select one of the default dynamic wallpapers from the Desktop Pictures on the Desktop & Screen Saver window and select Dynamic from the dropdown menu beside it.
Once done, open Finder and go to the folder where you’ve stored your dynamic wallpaper(s). Here, right-click on a wallpaper and select Services > Set Desktop Picture.
How to Create Dynamic Wallpapers for Mac
There are two ways to create a dynamic background on Mac: you can either use Dynamic Wallpaper Club: if you want to generate a wallpaper quickly or use an app like wallpapper: if you want more control over your dynamic wallpapers.
Wallpapper is a free and easy-to-use dynamic wallpaper creation service. It’s essentially a console app that lets you create dynamic wallpapers using JSON files. Using it, you can easily customize your wallpaper’s appearance for the different times of day and positions of the Sun.
But before you move on to creating your wallpaper with wallpapper, there are a few things you need to know.
Mac dynamic backgrounds use metrics such as the time of day and geographical location to determine the Sun’s position at your location. So, depending on how many variations you want in your wallpaper, you need to take photos—of the exact same view—spread across different hours in the day.
In addition to these two metrics, there’s also a basic binary metric. It involves only two versions of a wallpaper: light and dark, and it’s ideal only when you want to create a wallpaper that needs just two appearances.
With that out of the way, follow the steps below to install wallpapper on your Mac:
- Open the Terminal app.
- Enter the following commands (one-by-one) and hit Return:
brew tap mczachurski/wallpapper
brew install wallpapper
Once installed, create a new directory and add all the photos you want to use in your wallpaper to it. Next, open the terminal and navigate to this directory using the cd and ls commands.
Create a JSON (.json) file inside this directory by running:
Inside this file, copy-paste the following lines of code based on whether you want your dynamic wallpaper solar- or -time-based.
Solar-based Dynamic Wallpaper
To create a dynamic wallpaper using solar coordinates, add the following lines of code to your JSON file, modify the key-value pairs, and save it.
Time-based Dynamic Wallpaper
For time-based coding of dynamic wallpaper, enter the following code, modify the key-value pairs, and save the JSON file.
As you would have noticed, there are several key-value pairs in the JSON file. These are essentially different properties of the dynamic wallpaper that you need to set manually to time- or -location-code your wallpaper. Here’s a breakdown of some of these properties:
- fileName – file name of your picture
- isPrimary – sets an image as the primary image
- isForDark – if set to true, picture will be displayed in dark theme
- isForLight – if set to true, picture will be displayed in light theme
To learn more about these properties, check out wallpapper’s documentation.
Finally, with the JSON file populated with time or location coordinates, run the command below to create a dynamic wallpaper based on your set properties:
wallpapper -i file_name.json
wallpapper -i wallpapper.json
If all goes well, wallpapper will generate your wallpaper in an output.heic file. And you can then set it as your desktop background using the steps we’ve listed earlier in the post.
Personalize Your Mac With Dynamic Wallpapers
Personalizing your Mac is an act of tailoring its various components to appear and function the way you desire. And one of the basic actions involved in this process is changing the desktop background.
Following this guide, you should be able to get your hands on the best dynamic wallpapers for your Mac or create your own for a more personalized experience.