How to Change the Desktop Background Picture in Mac OS X

Apr 18, 2010 - 7 Comments

Making your Mac desktop background look attractive goes beyond just eye candy, it can help to improve your focus or give some inspiration. Whether you’re a minimalist and just like simple solid color or gradients wallpapers, or you want a great looking sunset, or maybe just a family picture as the background, it’s all a piece of cake. We’re going to focus on the three primary methods of changing the desktops background wallpaper of OS X.

Setting OS X Desktop Wallpaper from Safari

If you happen across an image on the web and you are using the Safari browser, you can just:

This is the easiest way to set a wallpaper using pictures found on the web. Safari has this ability built in, while other browsers will need to save the image locally and then set the wallpaper manually using one of the other tricks below. This is also what you’d want to do for using images that are already stored on your Mac desktop or within the Finder.

Change a Mac’s Desktop Background Picture with an Image File

* Right-click on the image you want to use as the Mac’s background picture
* Scroll down to the bottom of the contextual menu to ‘Set Desktop Picture’

change mac desktop picture

This is my preferred method if you have an image file in the Finder that you want to use as the wallpaper image.

You can also use the System Preferences to change the Mac background

* Go to the Apple menu and select ‘System Preferences’
* Click on the “Desktop & Screen Saver” icon
* Click the “Desktop” tab
* You can now drag & drop a picture into the little preview window and it will set automatically to that image

OS X has plenty of great looking wallpapers to choose from, this method allows you to browse through them and pick one you want.

change your mac desktop background wallpaper.JPG

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Customize, Mac OS X


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  1. WarMark says:

    I am using Mac OS X 10.5.8 .. and i do not see the “Set Desktop Picture” option after righ clicking the pic!!

  2. xsa says:

    This doesn’t work with Mac 10.6.6. There’s no option for Set Desktop Picture.

    • Manish says:

      This does work in Mac OS X 10.6.6, you have to select an image.

      If you don’t select an image and just right-click on the desktop, you will get the option to “Change Desktop Background”

      Both methods work as described.

      • Lee says:

        not anymore in 10.6.7 though. It’s kinda annoying when you’ve been using it throughout 10.6.6 and it suddenly disappears.

  3. Mark says:

    Both methods work just fine on my 10.6.7

  4. Andy says:

    For 10.6.6 and above: under ‘Label’ you should see ‘Services’ – look in there, that’s where it is on mine.

  5. […] have to manually adjust the settings opacity a bit to get things right depending on your choice of desktop background. I find the darker background pictures work fine with hiding it completely, but if you have a […]

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