Four ways to make your own customized, animated iPhone backgrounds

Sick of the default iOS backgrounds, or just want to jazz up your Lock Screen with a something a bit more personal than the basic options? Here are a few ways to turn photos, live photos, and videos into custom wallpapers for your iPhone.

Basic wallpapers

If you have an older device, or don’t want a fancy animated background, you may just want to set a nice new static wallpaper.

1. How to set a static wallpaper

Changing your device wallpaper is as straightforward as it gets: open the Settings app and tap Wallpaper, followed by Choose a New Wallpaper. You can either choose one of Apple’s presets from the top, or scroll further down the page to pick something from your camera roll.

If choosing your own image, you’ll then want to swipe and pinch to adjust the exact placement and cropping of the image. Select Still for a normal, static wallpaper or Perspective if you want it to subtly tilt with the movement of the device.

Tap Set and choose whether you want to set the wallpaper for the Lock Screen, Home Screen, or both. Wasn’t that easy?


‘Set Both’ is only an option for static backgrounds

If Apple’s presets don’t float your boat, there’s a huge range of inspirational wallpaper images available from Vellum [Free]. However, it’s limited to static wallpapers – if you want to design your own, or create something that moves, read on…

Live wallpapers

By now you may be familiar with Live Photos; special images that show a few seconds of movement either side of a main photo, like a mini video clip. They’re good for capturing a little extra character in the build-up to a pose, or details like flowing water in a landscape shot. If you’ve got an iPhone with 3D Touch (6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus) you’ll have the option of setting Live wallpapers that move when you press down hard on the lock screen.


Some of the default live wallpapers

Apple include nine of these with iOS, and they’re pretty cool – but what if you wanted to make your own? Let’s get creative.

2. How to make a live wallpaper from a live photo

If you’ve already taken the Live Photo you want to use, simply follow the steps from the basic wallpapers section and make sure you pick a Live Photo from the camera roll.

Forgotten how to take Live Photos? Don’t worry – open the standard iPhone camera and tap the Live button in the top middle to activate Live mode. The icon is a series of concentric rings and it’ll turn yellow when its active. Then just take as many photos as you want as usual, and they’ll also capture a snippet of movement before and after the main shot!


You might find that your shots have a bit of wobble to them, or cut away abruptly at the end. The easiest way to remedy this is to install Google Motion Stills [Free], which can automatically stabilize your images to counteract camera shake.


Press the button in the bottom left to turn anti-shake on or off

Simply open the app, tap the Live Photo you want to bring it fullscreen, and make sure the icon in the lower left shows two uneven semi-circles. This means stabilization is on. Then press the Share button (an arrow in a circle) and press Export Live Photo. Voila – it’s back in your Camera Roll without the shake.

3. How to make a live wallpaper from a video clip

What if you have a video clip that you’d like to use as an animated background? iOS doesn’t allow you to use a video as wallpaper – not directly, at least.

We’ll need to use a third-party app to convert a small slice of video into a properly formatted Live Photo so we can use it as a wallpaper. There are a few ways to do this, but our favorite is intoLive [Free]. The app has a Pro mode that costs money, and does include ads, but for our purposes the free tier is all we need.

Open the app and select the Video tab along the top. Tap the video clip you’d like to convert, and then use the red bars on the timeline view at the top to trim the clip if it’s too long. The maximum length is five seconds, but the app helpfully shows a looping preview of the clip you’ve selected so you can be sure you’ve captured the best moment from the video.


Steam looks great in slow motion!

Then press the arrow in the top right, choose No Repeat and then Save Live Photos. It will save it straight to your Camera Roll, and from there you can set it as a live wallpaper using the instructions from earlier.

4. How to make a live wallpaper from a still image

Maybe you have a really nice still image in mind but would like to add a bit of post-production magic to make it do something exciting when you press the screen. There are countless ways to achieve this using apps like Lumyer [Free] or Fabby [Free] – most of those will save video clips, though, which can be dealt with using the advice from the previous section.

For our next trick, though, we’re going to add a cool VHS-style glitch effect using Glitché [$0.99/£0.99] for this effect. The idea is that this will create a regular background image which will distort and malfunction whenever you press hard on the lock screen, giving the impression that your iPhone is broken or infected. It’s cool, trust us!

Load up Glitché and tap Photo Editor from the main screen. Choose an image from your Camera Roll. You can then choose from dozens of glitchy effects along the bottom. Generally, tapping and dragging on the image preview will cause weird things to happen; it’s fun just to play around.

Once you’ve found an effect you like, press GIF. It will show the numbers 1 – 10 along the bottom: these are the frames of your glitchy animation. Tap each one to select it and then press on the image at the top to mess around with it. Move through each of the 10 frames, toying with the effects until all the numbers turn green. You can preview the GIF with the play button at the bottom.


Making an animated sequence of glitched out photos…

When you’re done fiddling with glitches, hit the > button in the top right, add some effects if you want to from the next screen, and then press > again. Finally, press the ^ button at the bottom and choose Save. This saves your creation to the Camera Roll, but it saves it as an Animated GIF. The final step to get this working as a wallpaper is to use intoLive [Free] again to convert the GIF to a Live Photo, and then activate it as normal via the Settings app.

Phew! If you’ve made it this far, well done – we won’t blame you if you stick to the easier wallpapers earlier in the guide, but with all these options you can more or less set anything you like as a cool wallpaper to make your iPhone really stand out. Have fun!