How to change your desktop background on a Mac computer to any image, in 4 different ways

There are several options available for changing your background image on a Mac.

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There are several options available for changing your background image on a Mac.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • You can change your Mac desktop background to one of Apple’s preloaded options from the “System Preferences” menu.
  • You can also set one of your own images, or a folder of images, to use as your desktop background.
  • You’re also able to quickly set an image as your desktop background by right clicking it and choosing the option.
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Not in love with Apple’s customary mountain range, or night sky wallpapers? No problem! It’s quick and easy to give your Mac a customized look by changing the desktop background image to something you prefer.

You can select from a variety of other options already loaded by Apple, or use one of your own photographs. Whatever you choose, you can freshen up your look now by following the simple steps below.

How to change your background picture from Systems Preferences

You can set your desktop image to one of a variety of options that Apple has already preloaded onto your Mac:

1. Open the Apple menu and select “System Preferences.” It may also be pinned to your dock (it’s a grey gear).

Open your System Preferences.

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Open your System Preferences.
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Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

2. Click on “Desktop & Screen Saver.”

3. On the left side of the Desktop panel select the Apple drop down and click on “Desktop Pictures.”

4. You can now choose the picture you want to use as your background image. You can also have the image change at regular intervals by ticking the “Change picture” option at the bottom of your page, then set the time interval from the drop down box. The background will go through all the photos in the “Desktop Pictures” folder.

You can choose a single picture for your background, or have your Mac cycle through a selection.

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You can choose a single picture for your background, or have your Mac cycle through a selection.
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Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

If you want the order to be shuffled, then tick the “Random order” option box at the bottom of the page. Depending on your Mac OS version, you may be able to choose a “Dynamic Desktop” image. The “Dynamic Desktop” options will automatically change your desktop image based on the time of day.

You can also choose to use your own photos for the desktop background:

1. To use photos in your Photos app or Pictures folder, you can use the drop down option on the left side of the panel or you can add another folder by clicking the + in the bottom left corner.

2. Now, choose the location of the folder that contains the photo, or photos you want to use.

3. You can now select the photo you want to use from the options displayed, or select the “Change picture” option to have the background image cycle through all of the images in your selected folder. The time between changes can be set from the drop down menu and you can have the order shuffled by ticking the “Random order” box.

If you use multiple displays, you can also set a different image for each screen.

How to change your background from the Photos app

You can also set the background from the Photos app, without having to go through “System Preferences”:

1. Open the Photos app. If you’re using multiple displays, make sure that the Photos window is on the display that has the desktop you want to change.

2. Find the image you want to use and right click (or Ctrl+Click) on it.

3. Select “Share” and then “Set Desktop Picture.”

You can set a photo from the Photos app as your background by going through the Share menu.

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You can set a photo from the Photos app as your background by going through the Share menu.
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Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

How to change your background from Finder

Instead of using the Photos app, you can find the image through Finder.

1. Open Finder and locate the image you want to use.

2. Right click (or Ctrl+Click) on the image and select “Set Desktop Picture.”

You can set any picture you've saved as your desktop background.

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You can set any picture you’ve saved as your desktop background.
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Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

Note: You can also use this method on a photograph you find on the internet, as long as you save it onto your Mac first.

How to change your background by dragging and dropping an image onto your desktop

There is a fast shortcut to set any image as your desktop background.

1. Drag and drop the image onto the desktop you want to change.

2. Right click (or Ctrl+Click) on the image and select “Set Desktop Picture.”

Dragging the picture to your desktop will automatically save it so it can be set as your background.

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Dragging the picture to your desktop will automatically save it so it can be set as your background.
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Christine Kopaczewski/Business Insider

This is a great way to use an image that you’ve received through email or iMessage, or a screenshot (which will automatically save to your desktop) you’ve taken.

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