Create your own dynamic wallpapers for macOS

Since macOS Mojave, you have the option to set a dynamic wallpaper, which automatically adjusts to the time of day. You can use Apple's own wallpapers or download those from others, but creating dynamic wallpapers yourself is of course much more fun. Read here how that works.

Originally, creating a dynamic desktop was quite tricky. Not only do you need a nice set of photos, but you also need the right tools to create a so-called .heic file. In the meantime, it's just really fun to make such a dynamic wallpaper yourself. To use the Dynamic Wallpaper Club online tool, you must first register. Then click on the tab Create. In the left column you give the project a name and then you add tags enter the keywords that will make it easier for others (and yourself) to find this file in the gallery.

Then place the images in the main compartment. You can use the internal file browser for this, but you can also just drag and drop the files. In the example below, we have numbered the files so that they immediately appear in the correct order.

What are .heic files?

But wait, .heic files, what are they again? These special images are files in the .heic format, which stands for High Efficiency Image Coding (aka Format). Such a heic or heif file may contain one or a series of images, along with metadata describing each individual image in the file. From iOS 11, the iPhone and iPad also use this file format for photos and videos.

Meanwhile, this format is quite protected by all kinds of patents from Apple, so that not many third-party graphics programs support this format yet. When you open such a heic file with the standard Preview program, you can see all the different steps of this recording in the thumbnail bar.

Tips for best photos

That said, you get the best results with photos that you have shot with a tripod, because it is annoying if you should notice a small difference in the camera angle. Besides, you don't have to upload 24 photos for every hour of the day. In this case, we created a dynamic wallpaper from only 12 high-resolution photos. When it is pitch dark, there is usually little difference between the night photos.

This online tool relies for the time data on two possible sources. In other words, the photo contains information in its meta tags about the time the photo was taken. Photos that you shoot with a smartphone, for example, keep the recording time as standard. The photos we're merging here don't have a timestamp. In that case you can set the time manually.

Select the mode time on the left and click the button Suggest Times. You can then indicate the correct time for each snapshot. By the way, that's the time when the dynamic wallpaper will show this photo. Finally, you confirm that you yourself are the author. You can keep your project private. When you have the option Public Wallpaper checked, it will go to the gallery and anyone will be able to download the file.

Click the green button Create and wait for the heic file to be created. This may take a while as this is a very large file. Your photo will be placed in Queue in the meantime.

A good dynamic background also takes into account the position of the sun on the location. For this, the . reproduces sunmode changes the zenith settings based on the time the photo was taken. In addition, the desktop follows the seasons. In winter, the wallpaper automatically chooses a lower sun than in summer.

This Sun mode of Dynamic Wallpaper Club only works when the correct location data is embedded in the exif information of the image file. If not, you can still manually set the location and recording time using an online tool like In addition, the wallpaper file also contains two static variants (light and dark) for the user to select in the system preferences.

Or use Dynaper

A small desktop application also exists to create solar shifting heic wallpapers. Dynaper by Marek HruĆĄovský is a small program that you download from the Mac App Store. The app is free but places a watermark over the images. That way you can already try the program until you are sure that this is what you were looking for. To remove this watermark, click the button in the tool Remove Watermark and you pay 12.99 euros.

The application works much the same as the Dynamic Wallpaper Club online tool. Dynaper recognizes the timestamps in the file names or in the metadata. When you name files in the format HH_mm (where H is the hour and m is the minutes), Dynaper can handle that. The app relies on the last five characters of the file name. A photo called 'image001_16_45.jpg' will thus be interpreted by Dynaper as taken at 4:45 PM. If the file name does not show the time, Dynaper will try to find the correct recording time based on the exif information.

A third possibility is that you click on a thumbnail in the left column. Then the arrow button appears to set the time. Finally, Dynaper has a feature called Solar Wizard that can detect the coordinates of the sun in your area and set the time accordingly. When everything is in the right order, click Export HEIC, choose a location on the hard drive for this new file and click again Export.

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