Last updated: Dec, 2020

How to set up Dynamic Wallpapers for Mac, iPhone & iPad

Sometimes it's hard to keep my priorities in mind. Days get busy quickly. And even though I know that I should work on the important stuff before succumbing to the seemingly urgent, I find myself checking mails in the morning more often than I'd like!

One solution? Have post-its all around your house to remind me: important before urgent!

But that's a bit boring in the age of iPhones.

How cool would it be if you could ask your phone to show you something motivational in the morning? Even better, what about something to reset your focus in the evening?

And why stop there? Have your laptop display the same message!

But how on earth would you do that?

I'm glad you asked.

Here's a quick guide on how to set up your Apple Macbook, iPhone & iPad to display whatever reminder you want at any given time of the day. It's inspired by this great article from Khe Hy - How to design the perfect day.

Scroll to the end of the page to get the four wallpapers I'm currently using.

(Works the same with cat pictures. And dogs.)

Setup Guide for Laptop - Dynamic Wallpapers

  1. Create a new folder.
  2. Add desired wallpapers to folder.
  3. Duplicate wallpapers until you have 24 pictures (Example: if using two different pictures for morning & evening, have 12 copies of each in the folder - see note below)
  4. Rename Wallpapers according to sequence: (Picture 1 → "1 Picture" & "2 Picture" & ... "12 Picture"; Picture 2 → "13 Picture" & ... "24 Picture")
  5. Go to "System Preferences" → Desktop & Screen Savers" → "Desktop"
  6. Use "+" to add your new wallpaper folder to the side menu
  7. Select Folder
  8. Activate "Change Picture" and set it to "Every Hour"
  9. Enjoy!

Your Mac will start cycling through the wallpapers from the moment you select them. Keep that in mind when picking your wallpaper sequence.

Example: You have 2 pictures and want picture 1 in the mornings, picture 2 after work. If you set it up at 08:45, then have the first 8 pictures in the folder as picture 1 (08:45 + 8 = 16:45), then 12 pictures of picture 2 and then the other 4 picture 1 behind (16:45 - 4:45 will show your nightly picture then)

Setup Guide for iPhone & iPad - Dynamic Wallpapers

  1. Create two new albums "Morning" & "Night" & add desired pictures to it
  2. Open the "Shortcuts" Application
  3. Press the "+" icon in the top right corner
  4. Press "Add Action"
  5. Search for "Find Photos"
  6. "Add Filter" → "Album is" & change "Recent" to "Morning" (or whatever the name of your newly created album is)
  7. Set "Limit" to active and reduce to "Get 1 Item"
  8. Tap "+" Icon below and search for "Set Wallpaper"
  9. Now pick "Lock Screen" or "Home Screen" or both depending on where the wallpaper should appear
  10. Tap "Show more" and deactivate "Show Preview"
  11. Tap "Done" in the top right corner and name your shortcut, e.g. "Morning Wallpaper"
  12. Duplicate your shortcut by "Select" → select "Morning Wallpaper" → "Duplicate" (bottom left corner)
  13. Rename the Duplicate to "Evening Wallpaper"
  14. Edit "Evening Wallpaper" by clicking the "..." → switch the "Album is" from "Morning" to "Evening"
  15. Switch to automation in the bottom row
  16. Tap "+" in the top right corner
  17. Select "Create Personal Automation"
  18. Select your trigger of choice - probably "Time of Day" to always wake up & end the day with the correct wallpaper
  19. Set "Time" to 04:00 am & have it repeat daily
  20. Tap "Next" top right corner
  21. Tap "Add Action" and search & select "Run Shortcut"
  22. Tap the "Shortcut" variable and search for "Morning Wallpaper"
  23. Tap "Next" top right corner
  24. Disable "Ask before running" & tap "Next" top right corner
  25. Repeat steps 15 - 24 but this time, set "Time" to an hour before your EOD & select "Evening Wallpaper" instead of "Morning Wallpaper"
  26. Enjoy!

Don't stop here

Two messages a day just doesn't cut it? Luckily, you can add as many wallpaper changes as you want. Just make sure to separate groups of pictures into different albums and set them to different times of the day. You will need to set "Sort by" to "Random" in between steps 7 & 8.

At least on your iPhone.

For the Macbook, you're stuck with the same picture at the same time of the day until Apple releases Shortcuts for Mac - or you experiment with the slightly more complex "Automator" on your Mac.

My Wallpapers

Currently, I have this in my rotation:

  • Cue the Confetti (iPhone)
  • Important > Urgent (Mac)
  • Carpe. Fucking. Diem (iPhone)
  • remember your why. (Mac)
Screenshot 2020 12 18 at 17.10.30

Design courtesy by Uniqorn Branding

You can get them here:

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