Stop iOS 7 Wallpaper from Resizing & Stretching Background Images

Nov 29, 2013 - 4 Comments

Many iOS 7 users have noticed that wallpapers behave a bit differently from how they did in the past on iPhone and iPads. No, we’re not talking about how they impact the overall appearance and usability of the devices, we’re focusing on the automatic resizing of images used as wallpapers, which can lead to zoomed in, stretched out, or pixelated background images and lock screen pictures.

Stop the resizing of wallpapers in iOS 7

This is a very well documented phenomena on Apple’s Forums and we’ve received a handful of questions about the issue, and while there isn’t an official solution there are a few workarounds that can stop the wallpapers from resizing. These three tricks will give you a bit more control over how the wallpapers appear on the iOS screen, something that many users don’t even notice is an issue until they try to set the wallpaper as a portrait or face, which suddenly goes askew.

1: Disable Parallax to Stop the Wallpaper from Moving

Parallax (the live wallpaper motion thing that also makes all the icons and screens zoom around) can be the culprit for some users, because it forces a wallpaper to resize to accommodate the background movement. This basically means an image you want as the wallpaper will zoom itself out or in, depending on how the device is positioned. The simple solution is to turn off the auto-pivoting behavior:

  • Go to Settings, then to “General”, then to “Accessibility”
  • Go to “Reduce Motion” and turn the switch ON

Though it’s unrelated to the resized wallpaper and lock screen image issue, you’ll find that disabling Parallax has a few added side benefits; it makes the device feel quicker by enabling a much faster fading transition, and it also helps to cut down battery drain particularly on the iPads by turning off unnecessary eye candy throughout iOS 7.

2: Use Precisely Sized Wallpapers for the Screen Resolution

By using the exact pixel size wallpaper for the iOS devices screen, you can stop the odd automatic resizing actions. This must be done in conjunction with disabling Parallax otherwise you’ll still find it to be oversized:

  • iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPod Touch: 1136×640 pixels
  • iPad Retina: 2048×2048 pixels
  • iPhone 4, iPhone 4S: 960×640

This suggestion comes from Wired and it does work, but obviously it requires some planning ahead since it will be up to you to resize wallpapers to be the exact resolution for the device you want to use them on. If you’ve noticed that Apple’s default iOS wallpapers don’t have the overly zoomed look it’s because they too are sized according to the screen resolution by default.

If you’d prefer to preserve the movement effects and you want to accommodate for Parallax motions, add another 200 pixels or so to each side of the image. Just remember that with Parallax enabled you will never have complete control over how images appear as wallpapers on either the home screen or the lock screen.

3: Use the Screenshot-To-Wallpaper Trick

This solution is basically a variation of the aforementioned precision size trick, it works because an iOS screen shot is automatically sized to the devices screen resolution:

  • Open the image to use as the wallpaper within Photos app
  • Tap the image so the sharing buttons and photo gallery features are hidden
  • Take a screen shot of the image (tap Home button and Power button simultaneously) to resize it to the devices resolution
  • Now find that image in the Photos app to set it as the wallpaper

This was suggested by an Apple Forums user and sent to us by email a handful of times by users as a workaround. It works for the same reason that the #2 trick does, a screen shot image is always the default screen size.

The zooming behavior may be addressed in a future iOS update by Apple, or resolved by another means, though it’s not really clear that the wallpaper resizing thing is a bug, and it may turn out to be just a different way of handling wallpapers that takes some getting accustomed to.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Troubleshooting

4 Comments

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  1. Dennis says:

    Parallax is a UX disaster. All form with negative function. Hard to beeline it is enabled by default when it messes up just about everything and makes you want to vomit from motion illness. Lol iOS 7 is just so weird I am still not used to it.

  2. Samuel Onesimus says:

    There is an app to help fix wallpaper scale & resize issue, called Wallax- Scale, Resize & Make your own wallpapers for iOS 7. Works for both iPhone & iPad.

  3. Terri says:

    If you still haven’t upgraded to the newer iPad & iPhone devices, this is EXCELLENT advice. Disabling parallax makes my iPhone 4S & iPad 2 work much faster!! Also, the screenshot to wallpaper trick works fantastic. It is so much easier than trying to resize your photos. Wish I would have seen this before I tried multiple apps for resizing photos!!

  4. Russ Herald says:

    I’ve an ipad 3 (retina).

    Option two works (after removing parallax) but distorts the picture if the original wasn’t square, and you want to use the original without cropping to a square.

    Option 3 works for me if I take the screen capture in portrait mode, and then use landscape as my default orientation on the ipad. But in portrait mode, I still see a large area of black above and below the picture. If I take the screen capture in landscape mode, then the picture doesn’t resize properly as wallpaper in either landscape or portrait.

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