How to Change Desktop Background on MacBook Pro

Your MacBook Pro is capable of displaying any image as the desktop background. But many Mac owners never change their background. They may not know that changing your Mac’s background is quick and easy. 

You can quickly change your Macbook Pro’s background in System Preferences, Finder, or the Photos application. Just find the image you want, and with a few clicks of your mouse, you’ll have a new background. 

I’m Jon, a Mac enthusiast, and owner of a 16-inch 2019 MacBook Pro. I use my Macbook for over 10 hours daily and know all the tips and tricks to customize it. So, I put together this step-by-step guide to help you change your Mac’s background. 

So, let’s get your desktop background changed!

Steps to Change the Default Background on Your MacBook Pro

Every MacBook Pro comes with a default desktop background image which varies depending on your version of macOS. 

However, whether you love the picture or despise it, you’re not stuck with it. Apple offers a wide variety of background options, but you can also choose from your own images and download new ones from the web. 

Personalizing your computer with a picture of your choice is quick and easy. Here are the steps. 

Step 1: Open The Apple Menu

Find the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen. Click on the icon to open the Apple menu

In the drop-down menu that appears, select System Preferences. In the System Preferences window, click Desktop & Screen Saver, which is typically in the top row of the options.

Alternatively, you can right-click an empty space on your desktop and select “Change Desktop Background…” 

Step 2: Click on The Desktop Tab

In the Desktop & Screen Saver window, click on the Desktop tab. This tab is near the top of the window. 

Once the Desktop tab opens, click Desktop Pictures. You’ll find this option beneath the Apple menu in the sidebar on the left side of the screen. 

Step 3: Select The Photo You Want to Use

Browse through the available desktop background images. Once you find a background image you like, click on it to set it as your background.

If you have multiple monitors (like me), you can choose a different background image for each display. It’s easy– when you open the Desktop & Screen Saver window, a “Secondary Desktop” window also opens on all extra displays. 

This window allows you to independently change the background on each display. 

Depending on your Mac, you may have Dynamic Desktop options alongside regular Desktop Pictures. Look through the options until you find a photo or dynamic option you’d like to use. 

Alternatively, you can select a solid color for your desktop if that’s what you prefer.

If your Mac runs macOS Mojave or later, you can choose a dynamic background that switches automatically from light-themed during the day to dark-themed at night– neat, right? 

How to Change The Background to Your Own Image

If you can’t find a background in Apple’s selection you like or would prefer to use your own photo, all it takes is a few steps. 

Step 1: Open Desktop And Screen Saver

If you were browsing through Apple’s background options, you should be in the right window to select your own image. If not, follow the steps above to get to the Desktop & Screen Saver window. 

Or, go to System Preferences > Desktop and Screen Saver > Desktop.

Step 2: Click The Plus Button

A plus (+) button is in the bottom left corner of the Desktop and Screen Saver window. Click on this button to change the background to your own image. 

Step 3: Choose The Folder Containing The Image

Next, choose the folder containing the image you want to use in the window that pops up. Click Choose, then select the image you want to use. If you don’t want your image deleted, make sure you put it in a safe place. 

Tip: Don’t store background images in your Downloads folder or on your Desktop (since you can easily delete them by mistake). 

Step 4: Configure The Photo

Before setting the image as your desktop, adjust the settings, so it appears correctly. You may want it to fill your screen, center, or show it in a tile pattern.  

Step 5: Select Rotation Frequency 

If you want your desktop photo to rotate automatically, you can easily set this up. Select a frequency in the drop-down menu next to Change Picture. Keep the box next to Change Picture unchecked if you want to keep the same photo constantly. 

To shuffle the order of your photos, check the box next to Random Order (underneath Change Picture).

How to Choose Your Desktop Background From the Photos App

You can also change your desktop background from the photos app. To do so, follow the steps below. 

Step 1: Open The Photos App

Start by opening the Photos app on your Mac. Browse through the images in the app until you find the one you want to set as your desktop photo. 

You can find the Photos app in your Dock or Launchpad- simply type “photos” into the search in Launchpad. Its icon looks like a multi-colored flower.

Step 2: Right-Click on The Image

Once you find the photo you want to use, right-click or control-click on the image. In the menu that appears, select Share.

Step 3: Set The Photo as Your Background

After you click Share, a menu will appear to the side of the first menu. Click on Set Desktop Picture near the bottom of the menu to set the photo as your background. 

How to Change Your Background Using Finder

Another option you can use to change your background photo is Finder. All it takes is a few quick and easy steps, which we outline below.

Step 1: Open a Finder Window

Open a Finder window by pressing Option + Command + Space. Search for the image you want to use in the Finder window.

Step 2: Control-Click The Image

Once you find the file you want to use, control-click or right-click on the file. In the shortcut menu that appears, select Set Desktop Picture

If you don’t see this option in the menu, find the sub-menu labeled Share. In the Share submenu, find the Set Desktop Picture option.


Adding a personalized touch to your MacBook Pro is quick and easy. You can change your desktop image through System Preferences, the Photos app, or Finder. 

Whether you want to use multiple photos on a random rotation or a ready-to-use dynamic background, all it takes is a few clicks to customize your Mac’s background. 

What’s your go-to desktop background on your Macbook Pro? Let us know in the comments below!

About Jonathon Jachura
Jonathon is a mechanical engineer with over ten years of experience. He is an Apple fan who currently holds a Macbook Pro (512 GB, 16GB RAM), iPad Pro 12.9", iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple Watch 3, and 4x Acer 23" monitors.

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