Use an Animated GIF as Wallpaper in Mac OS X with GIFPaper

May 21, 2016 - 11 Comments

animated-gif-wallpaper-mac

Have you ever wished the wallpaper on your Mac was animated? One common trick to achieve that effect is to set a screen saver as the desktop wallpaper in Mac OS X, which looks great but can wind up using a fair amount of processor to display the animations, but now another option is available; use an animated GIF as desktop wallpaper on the Mac instead, thanks to a little free app called GifPaper.


GIFPaper is somewhat experimental at this point, requires skipping Gatekeeper, uses about 15% of CPU to display the animation, requires manually installing a preference panel, and if you want to get rid of it, you have to force quit the associated process through Activity Monitor. Because of all that, using GifPaper is likely better used exclusively by more advanced Mac users, as it’s totally unsupported by the developer (or anyone else). If you aren’t comfortable with any of that, don’t use the GifPaper app for now. If you don’t mind those caveats, here’s how you can use GIFPaper to set an animated GIF as the desktop picture on a Mac.

How to Set Animated GIF as Desktop Wallpaper in Mac OS X

  1. Get GIFPaper from this Dropbox link*, it’s free from the developer but unsupported
  2. Install the preference panel and use the Browse option to select your animated GIF, then adjust the settings as desired
  3. animated-gif-as-wallpaper-mac

  4. The animated GIF should load as wallpaper immediately, but if it doesn’t try manually launching the Gifpaper.app to load the gif as the desktop background picture

Here’s an example of the Mac desktop with a fireplace GIF in use as the wallpaper background image:

animated-gif-wallpaper-mac

And here’s another Mac desktop example with animated GIF as wallpaper via Lifehacker:

animated-gif-mac-wallpaper-lifehacker

This can be a fun use for your Live Photos converted to GIFs, which is what I have done in this piece with a fireplace gif that was created from a Live Photo. Of course if you have Gif Brewery than you can use other masterful animated GIF creations of your own doing as well, otherwise a quick Google Image search for “animated gif (item)” or visit to a site like Giphy should find you something to meet your GIF needs.

* Download and use this app at your own discretion, currently there is no associated developer page or Github page about the GifPaper app. Generally speaking it is unwise to download and use apps or files from random web links from an unidentified developer, but this app was found by LifeHacker and it works as advertised (the creepy blinking eyes gif via 2001 (the movie) shown on page is from Lifehacker too).

Removing GIF Paper and getting the regular wallpaper back again

You can remove the GifPaper preference panel with a right-click:

gifpaper-prefs-remove

And if you want to end the animated GIF as your wallpaper, either reboot the Mac, or quit the Gif Paper process running through Activity Monitor:

quit-gif-paper-agent

Unfortunately there isn’t a Github page with source or an official site for the project, though the developer Tomasz Wojcik mentions they’d likely put it on Github eventually. If you were hoping to get a look at the source, get support for the app, or ask questions specifically about the project or how it works, you’ll have to reach out to the creator directly via the readme file attached to the download, for now anyway.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Fun, Mac OS X

11 Comments

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  1. Tex mex says:

    Hey this is pretty cool, I tried it and it works exactly as advertised.

    I hope the developer puts up a website for it and releases an updated version because it is a little buggy, I also had to kill the process to stop the GIF in testing.

    I am using a pretty basic GIF and it’s taking up about 10% CPU, like these

    https://media.giphy.com/media/RYDuYlVZiBIOs/giphy.gif

    http://49.media.tumblr.com/c53b992f6faff70ab58c59c39b855049/tumblr_nhj42i0MNh1smjk7ro1_500.gif

    https://media.giphy.com/media/qRO510UMw6fNm/giphy.gif

    Works well, thanks.

  2. Luke L. says:

    It seems to be covering desktop icons for me… Anybody else having this?

  3. Phredd says:

    Why would any sane person want to do this?

    • Kurt says:

      Phredd, I concur. Computers for most people are a tool, perhaps a source for entertainment, but why bother to goof up the innards like this?

    • Ninto says:

      Well if you wanted to set an animated GIF as your desktop picture on a Mac, this is how you would do it. Do you know of another way?

      • Phredd says:

        I acknowledge that if you wanted to have an animated gif as your background this would be the way to do it but if you did want an animated gif as your background I would question your sanity…

  4. Sam says:

    The title should read… “How to kill your CPU & GPU on older Macs”.

    • PH says:

      15% CPU use isn’t too bad, but yes it will slow down your Mac either way to use this. It’s certainly just for looks, not for anything else. It’s your typical OS eye candy with beauty at the expense of performance.

      I think it’s fun, but the tool is too buggy to rely on. I hope for an update from the dev.

  5. laila says:

    hey i have a question regarding this.

    i installed this on my mac and loved it, but it does drain my wallpaper so i wanted to uninstall it or remove it from my computer completely but it just won’t disappear!! i threw gif paper in the trash and tried to change the background, its still there!! i don’t know what else to di its ruining my laptop.. please help :(

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