How to Use Different iPhone Wallpapers for Light and Dark Mode

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Setting your iPhone to automatically switch between light and dark modes is a great way to take advantage of both display modes while giving your eyes a break at night. But you don’t get the full experience unless your iPhone wallpaper can automatically switch to match each theme.

You can choose a default iPhone wallpaper that does this, but that’s not your only option. The Shortcuts app opens up even more opportunities, and for the more adventurous, there’s a jailbreak tweak that combines the best of both.

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Here are three different ways to set light and dark mode wallpapers on your iPhone.

Choose from built-in light and dark mode wallpapers

Since iOS 15.5, iPhones include 23 built-in responsive wallpapers. iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models feature additional live wallpapers in light and dark mode that automatically change to match the look of your device.

These color-changing iPhone Stills wallpapers are similar to live wallpapers on the Mac, though less detailed.

How to Use iPhone’s Built-in Light and Dark Wallpapers

Although this limits you to the default options, using a built-in option is the easiest way to match your wallpaper to the look of your iPhone.


Follow these steps to set a wallpaper that changes with light and dark modes:

  1. Open the Settings app, scroll to Wallpaperand press it.
  2. Then press Choose a new wallpaper.
  3. To select an iPhone Stills wallpaper, choose Still images from the top row of options. Or, if you have a device that supports them, you can choose Live.
  4. Next, look for wallpapers with a split thumbnail to show both light and dark previews. Tap the wallpaper you want to use.
  5. In the full-screen preview, which will match the current look of your iPhone, choose whether to enable or disable perspective zoom by pressing the center button at the bottom.
  6. Then press Adjust.
  7. Finally, choose whether you want to use the wallpaper for your lock screen, home screen, or both.

Disable wallpaper dimming

If you want to enjoy the dark mode wallpaper of a vibrant iPhone without your device dimming it, you’ll need to change a setting.

Faucet Wallpaper in the Settings app and look under the images for the toggle labeled Dark Appearance Dims Wallpaper.

As the fine print explains, this setting darkens the wallpaper depending on the ambient light around you. Turning it off ensures that your iPhone’s dark mode wallpaper appears at its full brightness.

Set custom light and dark mode wallpapers with shortcuts

While the built-in wallpapers are nice, you might want to choose your own images for light and dark mode.

Using the Shortcuts app, you can set specific images from files or photos as light and dark wallpapers. Then you can use an automation to run a schedule, switching from one iPhone wallpaper for dark mode to another for light mode. You will need to be running iOS 14 or later to use this method.

Learn exactly how to set up Shortcut and Automation in our step-by-step guide to changing your iPhone wallpaper on a schedule.


Configuring automatic switching between light and dark modes

While early versions of the iOS Shortcuts app couldn’t update your iPhone’s appearance while the device was locked, this automation is possible in iOS 15 and later.

This means you have two options for programming your iPhone to switch between light and dark mode.

  • Set a schedule for light and dark modes in the Settings app (shortcuts not required). You will need to choose this option if you are using an iOS version earlier than iOS 15.
  • Use personal automations in the Shortcuts app to run the Set Appearance action at specific times. This option is not limited to two times; you can create as many personal time-based automations as you want to change your wallpaper throughout the day.

Use a Jailbreak Tweak for Custom Light and Dark Wallpapers

If you are using a jailbroken iPhone, you can try the DynaWall jailbreak tweak. This $2.79 app lets you choose two images to create a wallpaper that changes to match light and dark modes.

What makes it a jailbreak-only solution? The app installs the custom wallpaper in the Settings app as if it were a built-in wallpaper. The advantage is that the wallpaper will adapt every time your iPhone changes its appearance, without planning or automation.

Of course, this requires you to learn how to jailbreak your iPhone if you haven’t already.

Personalize your iPhone with adaptive wallpapers

Your iPhone wallpaper is usually a static image. But you can add a whole new dynamic to your iPhone by setting its wallpaper to match light and dark modes.

Choose the method that best suits your setup and make your iPhone background change along with its appearance.

If you want to create an even more dynamic wallpaper experience, try using a Live Photo as your wallpaper.

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