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How to Change the Wallpaper on Your Smartphone

Use your own photo or an image that comes with your iPhone or Android device

a woman's hand holding a smartphone with leaves on it

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You can’t look at that great picture of your spouse enough. Or that great picture of you and your spouse. Or that great picture of your grandkids and kids and spouse.

You probably look at your smartphone more than anything else during the day. So why not set that great picture as the wallpaper of your home screen? 

It’s easy to change the wallpaper on an iPhone or an Android device. There are tons of options baked into both flavors of phone, and they often change when the manufacturers do software updates.

steps showing how to change wallpaper on an iphone

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If you choose your own photo as your wallpaper on an iPhone, you can drag it around to get exactly the part of the image you want. You can also pinch the image to zoom in and out so that it fits your screen.

On an iPhone: stills, dynamic or live

Open Settings, tap Wallpaper and then tap Choose a New Wallpaper. (If you’d like, at this point you can turn on Dark Appearance so that your device dims your wallpaper depending on the ambient light around you.)

Touch either Stills, Dynamic, Live or one of your photo albums, then choose the image you want to use by touching it. Tap Set to finish the process or tap Cancel if you’re not happy and want to start over.

"Still" wallpapers are static; "dynamic" wallpapers have subtle animations, similar to the “live” option for photos. "Live" wallpapers have more animation. To set dynamic wallpapers in motion, simply touch and hold the screen; live wallpapers will start to move without touching the screen.


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Using live wallpapers or a “live” photo is possible on all models after iPhone 6s except for iPhone XR and the first and second generations of iPhone SE.

If you choose your own photo, you can drag it around with your finger to the part of the image you want to use as your wallpaper, pinch the image to zoom in and out so that it fits your screen. Be aware that you might not be able to do this with every image.

You can set the wallpaper as your home screen, lock screen or both. The home screen appears when your iPhone is unlocked; the lock screen appears when you wake your iPhone.

how to change the wallpaper on an android phone step by step screenshots

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Remember that the steps on Android phones can differ with manufacturers. These instructions are for a Google Pixel 6 Pro.

On an Android: steps can differ

As always, remember that the steps on Android phones can differ with manufacturers. These instructions are specifically for a Google Pixel 6 Pro.

For the home screen on your smartphone, press and hold on any open spot. A menu will appear. Tap Wallpaper & style, then tap Change wallpaper, which is toward the middle of the screen, to get an array of image themes. (That's if your phone runs on the Android 12 operating system; older versions may skip the "change wallpaper" step and go right to the themes.) 

Choose one of the themes — options include My Photos, Bloom, Living Universe, Motif, Textures and Live wallpapers — by tapping the corresponding icon. Choose the wallpaper style or photo you want and tap on it.

You’ll then see a preview of what the wallpaper will look like on your home screen. If you’re happy with the choice, tap on the check mark at the bottom right, then choose whether you want that wallpaper for your home screen, lock screen or both.

Some of the wallpaper choices in the "live" category let you do customization. For example, if you choose the live wallpaper of the earth, your phone will ask if it can use your location.

Ed Waldman is a contributing editor and writer who covers technology. He previously was an editor at the Baltimore Sun, taught journalism at the University of Maryland and launched a statewide high school sports website.

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