Since macOS Mojave was launched back in 2018, users have been able to take advantage of dynamic wallpapers (originally called dynamic desktops)—backdrop images that shift in color as the time of day changes. So as night falls outside your window, night will also fall on the wallpaper on your desktop.

It’s a neat idea, and if you load up the Wallpaper section of System Settings in macOS today, you’ll find no fewer than 31 different dynamic wallpapers to choose from, courtesy of Apple—everything from landscape shots of nature to abstract pattern designs, enough to last you more than a year if you swap over to a new one every fortnight.

What you can’t do natively in macOS is set up your own dynamic wallpapers. For this job, you need a third-party application, and there are a couple of really good ones you can check out: Equinox and Dynaper. There’s also the Dynamic Wallpaper Club website, which features a gallery of many high-quality dynamic wallpapers, plus a tool for making your own through the web interface.

To get started, you need at least two images to make a dynamic wallpaper, and what they show and how you make them is up to you: They can represent the same place at different times, but they don’t have to.

Creating dynamic wallpapers with Equinox

You can download Equinox for free from the Mac App Store, and once you’ve got it running, you need to choose how your new dynamic wallpaper will work: Solar (images change based on sunrise and sunset times in your region), Time (images change based on any other specific timings), or Appearance (images change based on whether macOS is in light or dark mode).

On the next screen, you need to add one or more pictures to form your dynamic wallpaper (if you add one that you later want to remove, right-click on it and choose Delete image). You can drag and drop images into the program window, or click Browse to pick them manually. For the Appearance option you just need two images, but there’s no limit to how many you can use for the other modes (click and drag images to change their order once they’ve been imported).

Equinox can create dynamic wallpapers quickly for you.
Credit: Lifehacker

In the Solar mode, you need to supply altitude and azimuth information, the position of the sun in the sky when the photo was taken. Use the Calculator button to work these out based on the time of day and your region, if you’re not sure. In the Time mode, you simply need to supply times for each image to appear—Equinox will add some timings automatically, but you can change them if needed.

Click Create, and after a few moments of calculation, your new dynamic wallpaper is created. Equinox gives you plenty of options on the next dialog: You can save the new image to disk, share it to another app, or set the dynamic wallpaper directly inside Equinox. If you want to start again with a fresh batch of images, click New.

Finding and setting dynamic wallpapers

You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to creating dynamic wallpapers on macOS. You can go out into the real world with a camera and a tripod—maybe even setting up a time-lapse photo that you can pick out a few frames. Alternatively, if you only have one image, you can use your favorite image editor to manipulate the lighting and colors so you’ve got several versions.

If you’d rather use dynamic wallpapers made by someone else, check out the galleries available through the Dynamic Wallpaper Club website and the 24 Hour Wallpaper macOS app. The latter requires payments—$1.29 per wallpaper or $69.99 for all 125 images—but they’re all of an impressive quality. No matter what your tastes are in terms of backdrops for your Mac, you should be able to find something you like.

MacOS recognizes files saved as dynamic wallpapers.
Credit: Lifehacker

On the Dynamic Wallpaper Club website, you do have the option of building your own dynamic wallpapers, though you will need to sign up for a free account. Through the web interface you can choose your images and pick your timings. It’s not quite as slick as Equinox, but it’s there if you need it (make sure you uncheck the Public wallpaper box if you don’t want to share your creation with the Dynamic Wallpaper Club community).

Actually setting a dynamic wallpaper is straightforward: Open the Apple menu, then System Settings, then select Wallpaper. Click Add Photo and Choose, then point macOS towards the dynamic wallpaper that you’ve made. You’ll see that the picture type is set as Dynamic in the top right corner, and the pictures will be cycled through automatically, based on the timings you’ve provided.