I admit: I’m fascinated by Apple’s new Dynamic Desktop feature, which became widely available with the launch of macOS Mojave last week. There’s just something magical about a wallpaper that shows a fixed-point view that changes as your day goes by.
However, Apple only offers two Dynamic Desktop wallpapers by default: One a beautiful photo of the Mojave desert, and the other a somewhat bland, ever-changing color gradient.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s a solution: A couple of them, in fact.
Back in June, developer Marcin Czachurski discovered that Apple’s dynamic wallpapers are a bunch of images and a short text file describing certain properties of the image, such as altitude and azimuth (which pinpoint the position of the Sun when the image was taken).
With this knowledge, you can create a dynamic wallpaper yourself. The technical aspects of it, described here, aren’t too complicated, and Czachurski even created a small command line app that makes it easier. But taking a bunch of high-quality photographs — especially if you want to do a fixed view of the same place at different times in the day — will likely be a bit much for most people.
Luckily, some crafty folks have already created dynamic wallpapers using this method. Czachurski himself shared a beautiful Google Earth-based wallpaper — you can find it here. And people on Reddit have shared their creations or findings here.
Dynamic wallpapers aren’t simple images; they come in the form of .heic files. To install them, first set your wallpaper to any dynamic wallpaper in Mojave. Then just right click on the .heic file and choose “Set Desktop Picture.” The wallpaper should show up and continue to dynamically change as your day goes on. To make things a little easier, you can also move the .heic files to the /Library/Desktop Pictures folders, and Mojave will then list them as options when you go to Settings — Destkop & Screen Saver. Beware, though, that if the files aren’t properly constructed, things can get messy; for example, Apple might not show the correct icons for these new dynamic backgrounds.
There’s an even easier solution. An app called 24 Hour Wallpaper, available on Apple’s App Store offers a total of 58 wallpapers. Some of these have a fixed view, while some are simply a mix of different images related to the same topic, but they all look pretty good. The app is compatible with macOS Mojave but it also works on older macOS versions, down to macOS 11.11. The catch is that the app is not free; it costs $6.99.
I’ve tested the app and it has a surprising amount of options, including the ability to choose any location in the world, customize sunrise and sunset times and set a “playlist” that continuously changes your dynamic wallpaper to a different set of images at an interval of your choosing. You can set different wallpapers on different displays as well — though I haven’t found an option to set a different wallpaper for each virtual desktop.
There’s even an option to let macOS do the work, which disables most of the extra features and essentially just sets a new dynamic wallpaper while the app resides in the background as a simple wallpaper gallery.
Hopefully, someone will create a repository of dynamic wallpapers down the road and finding these will be as easy as finding a regular wallpaper. For now, though, any of the methods described above should quench your thirst for dynamic desktop goodness.