A Beginner’s Guide to Desktop Backgrounds

The desktop background is the large image that appears behind everything you do on your Mac. You can change it in System Preferences. You can select from many provided images, choose a solid color, or use any of your own photos as a desktop background. You can also have the desktop background automatically change from a selection of images on a regular basis.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Desktop Backgrounds.

Now if you're new to Mac you may want to know how to change the Desktop background. The Desktop background is this beautiful image here that appears behind everything. Behind icons, behind Windows, and it's always there on your Mac. Each version of Mac OS has a different default Desktop background. So this is the one for Mac OS Sierra. But you can change it to other ones and anything you want. Even solid colors.

The way you control it is you go to the Apple menu and you go to System Preferences. Under System Preferences click on Desktop and Screen Saver. Then there are two sections. Desktop and Screen Saver. Make sure you click on Desktop to be able to change your Desktop background.

Here you'll see the background you are currently using in this large box right here. You'll see a variety of different locations where you can find new desktop backgrounds here and then you select them from here. So you have, first, Apple desktop backgrounds. If this is closed you simply click the triangle there to open it up. You can see Desktop Pictures and it shows you all these pictures. To select another one simply click it and it changes to that background. There's a variety of different ones to choose from. You can scroll through to see more. A whole bunch of them. Some of them which were the default backgrounds for previous versions of Mac OS. The one at the top left is the default version for the current version of Mac OS.

You can also select Solid Colors and choose a solid color or click Custom Color under that to choose a custom color using a color wheel or other color selectors in this window here.

Then you'll see Photo Libraries that you have. For instance on this Mac I have an old iPhoto Library and a Photos Library. I click on the Photos Library here, open it up, and I can find things like my Albums, and I can go into each album and select a photo from My Library to make it my background. So I can click to select this and it sets this photo here as the desktop background. It's easy to select your own photo from an existing library.

In addition, you'll find one called Folders and you'll find the Pictures Folder under there and any image files you've put in your Picture Folder will then appear here and you can select them as well. So even if you're not using the Photos app or you don't want to put your Desktop backgrounds in there, you can put them in the Pictures Folder and easily find it here. You can also add other folder locations with the plus button there and add any folder you want to appear in this list.

You can also drag and drop to change your Desktop Background. So I can bring in a Finder window here with a bunch of files and I can drag an image to this box here and it will set that as the Desktop background.

You also have an option here to have the Desktop background change. So if you select a folder full of pictures here or even the desktop pictures folder you can say Change Picture and set a amount of time or every time you log in or every time you wake from Sleep and it will select a different picture from the selected folder here. It will do it in order or you can select a random order. So it will pick one at random each time.

So those are your different options. To set it back to the default just go to the Apple Desktop pictures, select your default one at the top left or anyone that you want to use and it changes it back.

You also have quick access to this by Control clicking on the Desktop. You see you've got Change Desktop Background which brings you into that same System Preferences area.