Editor’s note: We’ve updated this guide with a new pick for enjoying rad wallpapers that comes with widgets.
Ever since the macOS became the multimedia powerhouse it is today, visuals have been a strong suit of the operating system. With the release of macOS X Mojave, Apple brought out the glorious Dynamic Wallpapers, which shifted the landscape based on the time of the day. Thanks to the unprecedented popularity same glorious dynamic wallpapers are compatible with macOS Big Sur update too. As stunning as the native wallpapers on macOS with every new version can be, you might find seeing the same aesthetic elements, as stunning as it may be, a bit boring.
By default, you are limited to the number of wallpapers available for the system to just a handful, which would make you want to find a few surreal ones of our own. But where can you find wallpapers and desktop backgrounds for your Mac computer that are good enough to rival the pieces of visual art that Apple crafts with the help of world-renowned photographers?
We bring you a comprehensive collection of some of the best wallpaper apps for macOS, personally tried and tested for the best results.
TL;DR: top wallpaper apps for Mac right now:
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Developed with the minimalist design in mind, the Wallpaper Wizard 2 app comes from MacPaw, which is already an established development studio. We enjoyed the lightweight wallpaper app, which comes with the finesse you would expect from native macOS apps, and a gargantuan collection of visually pleasing desktop backgrounds under the hood.
When you download and install the application, you’ll see a beautiful and elegant main interface. It is not cluttered with extra icons, here you’ll be approached with a simple “App Store” style catalog of numerous thumbnails of background collections.
Bringing out the best of the Retina HD display that makes the MacBook and the iMac such an eye-candy, Wallpaper Wizard 2 gives you an ever-updating catalog of all sorts of wallpapers, ranging across the spectrum of nature, space, architecture, colors, seasons, and everything in between.
Built with the philosophy to keep things simple, we enjoyed the straightforward setup of Wallpaper Wizard 2 and barely takes up any system resources. You start off with a 7-day trial to dip your toes in, and from there, the browsing experience is rich and comprehensive. We checked out the Explore tab for some of the latest collections to pick from right way, with categories listed right below for you to look into.
The Roll section is where you add wallpapers you want to add as a carousel to the desktop. With the press of a button, you can go to the next one on the list, along with a shuffle button to mix things up. Finally, there’s an entirely separate section for the Favorites you can add from the thousands of wallpapers by hitting the star icon right next to them.
If you are looking for a specific genre of wallpapers but don’t want to sift through the thousands of high-quality offerings in the Wallpaper Wizard 2 app, there’s a handy Search bar built into it. Taking inspiration from iOS with the rounder corners and masonry grid design, you will always have a window into a fantastic collection of macOS HD wallpapers, which are updated by the thousands each month.
Price: $9.95 via official website (Free Trial for 7 Days). It’s also available via Setapp, a $9.99 monthly subscription service.
The best wallpapers for Mac are not in short supply, we could not find a whole lot of wallpaper apps for macOS that offer you dynamic wallpapers Apple ships the operating system with. We found the ability to see the day pass by with the wallpaper reflecting it, quite pleasant, which is exactly what Jetson Creative strives to offer with the 24 Hour Wallpaper app.
Available as both, an app and a standalone bundle of wallpapers too, you will find the pricing model of 24 Hour Wallpaper as the only confusing part about it. We found everything else about the wallpaper app to be straightforward, with the wallpapers designed with the same craftsmanship that you come to expect only from the award-winning photographers that Apple hires for its official dynamic wallpapers.
Built in 5K HD resolution to keep your eyes fixated on the desktop for hours, the 24 Hour Wallpaper app features more than 80 different scenic spectacles to choose from. Apart from the three that are offered for free to give you a little taste of the goodness (Big Sur, Miami, and Earth from ISS), the app packs a whole lot more in 5120×2880 resolution.
Price: $9.99 or $1.29 per wallpaper. It’s also available via Setapp, a $9.99 monthly subscription service.
For rad wallpapers with widgets: Hologram Desktop
Hologram Desktop is a cool app we recently discovered in the Mac App Store.The app transforms your Mac desktop with 5 million scenic wallpapers from Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels. You get five-preloaded themes that you can instantly apply and use, then would have to download more wallpapers from built-in three top image providers above.
This software is not just about wallpapers, but more about a combination of wallpapers and widgets. Why? It allows you to blend your own creativity into it by neatly arranging the shortcuts and icons on wallpapers you fetched. The app comes over 50 widgets now, that lets you add the weather, date and time, moon phase, system information, inspirational quotes, jokes, and lots of other stuff to appear from your homescreen. You can even customize Widgets with tons of settings directly from the app.
Hologram Desktop supports Macs running macOS 10.15 Catalina or higher. It comes in Free and Pro versions. The Free version comes with 10 widgets and is limited to 5 wallpaper downloads per month, while Pro version comes with unlimited wallpaper downloads, all available widgets, 25 beautiful pre-built pro themes, and lets you save your wallpapers to your own folders. You can buy the app for $9.99 from the Mac App Store.
For 3D wallpapers: Earth 3D
Earth 3D is a cool app we recently discovered in the Mac App Store. It is a combination of 3D Screensaver and Live Wallpaper, you can launch app in a full screen and use as 3D screen saver or launch in a small window and enable Live Wallpaper mode and app periodically will generate a new wallpaper.
Earth 3D gives you live wallpapers and screensavers of the earth, with details of buildings, airplanes, and more. It shows you over 2,600 geographic objects, over 500 wonders of the world, a real=life night sky, a day/night cycle with city lights, and a whole lot more. The graphics are high-quality 3D, with HD textures for 1080p and up, and it supports Apple’s Retina displays. There’s also an interactive mode where you can click and drag to explore the planet.
Price: You can buy Earth 3D on the Mac App Store for US$2.99.
Some more wallpaper apps worth mentioning
There were a lot of other great wallpaper apps that we considered when writing this review, but none of them quite measured up to our top picks. Still, they definitely have unique features that deserve a mention.
Built for photography enthusiasts, the wallpaper app for Mac allows you to easily create dynamic wallpapers, including elements such as time and solar shifting in the background, and complete compatibility with macOS Mojave, Catalina, and the latest Big Sur version too.
The helper tools built into the Dynaper makes it easier to set the timeframe for the images, or just go with the Light/Dark wallpaper modes that automatically adapt to the appearance change. We were offered the compatibility for Retina HD display MacBook and iMac the wide-gamut colors, with better hues even for darker images, matching the quality of visual experience that macOS native wallpapers provide.
From the cool blue vibes of rippling water, to the gentle blows of the sandy beach, we were delighted by the entire catalog of awe-inspiring live desktop backgrounds for you to try out on the Live Wallpaper app.
Speaking of the interface, the general experience is simplified and selecting the best ones from the lot is made easy with the Featured section. Apart from live wallpapers, the app also comes with its own collection of built-in Live Audio, which allows you to enjoy pleasant tunes while you feast your eyes, and can be easily turned off at any time.
Fact of the matter is that there is not shortage of top-quality wallpaper service providers out there, but consolidating all of them can be difficult. Unsplash is one of the leading websites when it comes to high-quality wallpapers in the millions, and Unsplash is the app which brings to the best of it to your macOS computer.
The tiny and lightweight app is easy to get around, and allows you an automatic wallpaper times that can be set to minutes, hours, days, and weeks. The different channels allow you to shuffle through different sections such as new, featured, and others, along with auto-adjustment feature to set the color schemes in relation with the macOS theme you have installed.
Another instance where the Live Wallpaper feature from the Apple iOS has been successfully adapted into the macOS platform, Living Wallpaper HD sets the standard for beautifully crafted scenes like no other. Covering everything from the hustle and bustle of the cityscapes, to the scenic marvel of galaxies far away, Live Wallpaper HD comes with 20+ variants for you to choose from.
There is a weather and clock widget subtly integrated into the live wallpaper by itself, so the aesthetic beauty doubles up as a utility feature too. Apart from the ones provided with the app, you can also choose your very own wallpapers and customize them with the app, along with add-on features such as hot corners to activate the screensaver, and Informative Dock for a quick glance into the important stats.
Q: How to set up a Dynamic Wallpaper on macOS Big Sur
The latest version of macOS, similar to the older ones, comes with a couple of Dynamic Wallpapers built into it, and here’s how you can enable them:
- On the home screen, click the Apple icon on the top-left corner of the taskbar.
- Click on the Desktop button on the window.
- Select System Preferences and head to Desktop & Screen Saver from the menu.
- From the sidebar, you can choose to view the pictures saved as Desktop Pictures, Colors, or Photos saved on your computer.
- Under the Dynamic Desktop option, you will find the available options, so select the one you prefer and it will automatically be set as the background.
Q: Where to get more dynamic wallpapers
While there is an abundance of stunning wallpapers you can enjoy on the 5K Retina HD display of the iMac and MacBook, the number of Dynamic Wallpapers that Apple makes is fairly limited. Built for the very purpose of fulfilling the need to add more dynamic wallpapers to macOS, Dynamic Wallpaper Club is built with the finesse and style you have come to expect from Apple itself.
The crowdsourced website allows you to not only craft dynamic wallpapers of your own, but browse through a handsome catalog of wallpapers created by other users. The best part is, all of it comes to you free of cost, with the high-quality ones marked with the “5K” sticker for you to download right away.
Keep your Mac’s screen fresh everyday
Rather than limiting the potential of macOS with just a list of handpicked wallpapers, we want to give you the creative freedom to find, and even make your very own macOS desktop backgrounds. Whether you’re looking to capture the best of nature in a stunning way, set a dynamic wallpaper that transitions along with the day, or want to add a splash of animation to the desktop, we’ve got a wonderful list of best Mac wallpaper apps for you to browse through.