4 Ways to Stop Your Mac’s Wallpaper Changing After a Restart


It’s very frustrating when a Mac keeps reverting to its default wallpaper setting after every reboot.

There are several reasons why this can happen, and we will cover all of them in this article and provide effective solutions for each.

1. Disable Live Wallpaper Settings

Mac dynamic wallpapers

macOS comes with a plethora of colorful wallpapers, but they are divided into two categories: static and dynamic.

Static wallpapers are fixed, immutable images, and they do not change after a restart. But live wallpapers change due to various reasons such as location or device activity. Most live wallpapers have a light mode and dark mode variant, and change automatically depending on the time of day.

They can also change at preset intervals or based on certain device actions (like when your Mac goes into dark mode).

Related: Everything you need to know about dark mode on your Mac

If you set a dynamic default wallpaper, your Mac desktop background may change often. To resolve this issue, turn off the dynamic wallpaper setting and use a static wallpaper instead. Here’s how:

  1. To throw System Preferences from your dock or from the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  2. In the preferences, select desktop and screen saver.
  3. In the Office tab, check the top left corner. If you see three arrows in a cycle, your wallpaper is dynamic, which is why your desktop background sometimes changes.
  4. Scroll down the Desktop tab and deselect the Change picture option. The Change Image and Random Order options should be grayed out, indicating that the selected image is static.
    Dynamic wallpaper settings on Mac


2. Disconnect external displays

If you have an external display connected to your Mac, it may change the wallpaper setting, especially during reboots.

There is no definitive reason for this, but it seems to be due to the difference in screen resolution size.

The best way to solve this problem is to:

  1. Turn on your Mac and leave the lid open.
  2. Disconnect the external display from your Mac.
  3. Choose your favorite wallpaper and shut down your Mac.
  4. Restart your Mac while the external display is still disconnected.

Your wallpaper should remain unchanged and you can now connect your external monitor. This seems to be the best temporary solution until a hotfix is ​​available for this bug. All you need to do now is make sure your external display is off before restarting your Mac.

3. Delete Image Database File

If none of the above issues help, the problem may be with your wallpaper database file. This file is titled desktoppicture.dband it stores your Mac’s wallpaper configuration.

If the database file (or .db file) is corrupted, your Mac will have problems loading the wallpaper after a restart and will opt for the default wallpaper instead. To resolve this problem, try deleting the database file linked to your desktop image.

Don’t worry, it’s not a complex process and deleting it won’t harm your device. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Searcher and use the Shift + Cmd + G keyboard shortcut to open a command dialog box on your desktop screen. You can also click Go > Go to Folder to open this dialog box.
  2. Paste the following path ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/desktoppicture.db in the dialog box and click Go.
  3. This should immediately start the Finder, which will redirect you to the folder containing your wallpaper database file. Select and Ctrl-click the Desktop Picture database file.
  4. Click on Trash to delete the file.
  5. Choose a static wallpaper and restart your Mac. macOS will create a new database file for your new wallpaper.

If this fix does not fix the problem, there is one last potential problem on your system.

4. Update your software

Pop-up window showing macOS Monterey update available

If the problem persists after trying all the solutions above, you need to update your Mac. Any corrupted system files responsible for the problem will likely be replaced by the macos update.

To select System Preferences > Software Update. You should see the latest macOS update available. Click on Update now to download and install it.

To make sure you don’t lose important files and data during the update, you should back up your Mac before you begin.

Related: How to back up your Mac

Meet things as you left them

With these fixes, your wallpaper should stay put even after you restart your Mac. All of the above procedures are fairly simple to do yourself, so try them out before seeking professional help. You should find that your wallpaper stays put from now on.

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