Using macOS Mojave Dynamic Desktops

The new Dynamic Desktop feature will change the image on your desktop depending on the time of day, or more accurately, the position of the sun. You can see this in action by manually adjusting your Mac's time. Apple includes two dynamic desktops with Mojave, but we may see more from Apple or third-parties at some point.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using macOS Mojave Dynamic Desktops.

One of the most talked about new features of macOS Mojave is the Dynamic Desktop. What is that exactly? Well, you can see here is the default desktop background or wallpaper image. It's a great sand dune here and it looks like a normal desktop background. But if you go into System Preferences and then you look at the Desktop & Screen Saver settings you can see one of the things you can do here is set the background to be Dynamic or choose one of the stills. So I can choose a Light or Dark version of this background and it's just a regular image.

But I can also choose Dynamic. Now in order to have that option you have to choose one of the two dynamic desktops that are available. So this is one and the other one is just a plain gradient like that. If you choose another image, like this one, you can see I don't have those options there. So it's important to choose one of these dynamic desktops and then set it to Dynamic. So then what happens?

The background will change depending upon the time of day. So let's go into Date & Time here and let's change the time and see what happens. So I'm going to turn off Set date and time automatically. Then I should be able to manipulate this clock. Let's turn back time. See I found out you can trick the Dynamic desktop into thinking it's an earlier time, of course, by changing the clock. It doesn't work perfectly because it's probably not meant to work like this. But if I go back before 6 a.m. here and I hit Save and actually just do another change, you can see it's going to change to what it would have looked like at quarter to six in the morning.

Let's move forward in time a bit to 7:15 and it's going to change again there. Take a look at the shadows closely. It changes again. You can see the changes there. I can go forward. Let's go to the middle of the day here. So you can see it's not just simply a couple of images. It really does change throughout the day. Let's take it into sunset and then even into night. You can see stars come out and everything. So it's pretty complex there. There's a lot going on to get this to change. Multiple layers of images that are overlapping each other.

So you can, of course, only have these two different versions here. What remains to be seen is if more dynamic desktops will be added in the future. Like will Apple add more than just these or maybe third party companies will come out with some that will go in and become dynamic desktops.

It's not as simple as just providing a series of images even though that's what at the heart of Dynamic Desktops. Each image isn't just time stamped for a time of day. It actually has to do with the position of the sun in the sky and your position on earth. So solar positioning. So it is possible for third party companies to provide a series of images in the correct metadata and then you go in and place those in the system in a certain place or maybe an installer does it for you. It will be interesting to see if these are something that appear in the Mac App Store or maybe they're on third party sites with more complicated installation instructions.

Comments: One Response to “Using macOS Mojave Dynamic Desktops”

    Terry Haddow
    7 months ago

    I must admit this is one feature that is interesting to look at and never use. I always set my Mac up with my own wallpapers and desktops. This reminds me of when apple introduced a similar thing to the Apple TV. A wallpaper that changed with time. Only problem is – one doesn’t sit and watch wallpapers. I wish ppl HD spent more time updating a few of the existing apps instead ( such as Notes).

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