Apple's 2018/2019 version of the MacOS Mojave introduced a new kind of desktop wallpaper, one that transitions throughout the day, so that it is bright and well lit in the middle of the day, then goes through a twilight phase, and finally shows a night-time view. 

So far Apple has provided two different Dynamic Desktop images, one of a Mojave sanddune and one which shows solar gradiants. Both of these desktop pictures should change through the day based on your location - so you will need to have location services switched on (we'll run through how to do that below). 

Apple's Dynamic Desktop images are HEIC files with some additional metadata - within the single file are 16 separate pictures which represent a different time of day. We anticipate that soon there will be other Dynamic Desktop options available to download from other sources.

How to use Dynamic Desktop in Mojave

While there are ways to create the Dynamic Desktop effect in older versions of macOS (find out how to get Mojave wallpaper without Mojave here), ideally you will install Mojave on your Mac

After your Mac starts up following the Mojave installation, it is likely to show the new Mojave desert wallpaper by default.

  1. Right-click on your desktop.
  2. Choose Change Desktop Background.
  3. Depending on how many screens you are using, you will see one or more window with the various wallpaper options. Click on the one for your primary desktop if you have more than one. Dynamic Desktop Mojave
  4. You can choose between Mojave and Solar Gradients.
  5. The wallpaper will change in the background and you'll see a thumbnail of the image at the top of the window. If you have chosen the Mojave image, beside this thumbnail you should see a drop down menu with the options: Dynamic, Light or Dark. This allows you to choose for it to always be dark, which you might prefer if you are using Dark Mode on your Mac.  Choose Dynamic if you want the image to change throughout the day though.
  6. Now, to make sure that the image does change in time with the day where you are - so that it's dark when it's dark outside, and light when the sun is shining, go to System Preferences (if you keep the Desktop & Screen Saver window open just click on the button of dots next to the arrows) and choose the Security & Privacy option.
  7. Click on the Privacy tab and then Location Services. Location Services On Mac
  8. Make sure that the box beside Enable Location Services is ticked.

You can drill down further into Location Services if you click on the Details tab beside System Services (at the bottom of the list)

How to just see the dark Mojave wallpaper

If you are using Dark Mode and don't want to see a bright backdrop you can choose just to see the Dark version of the Mojave sanddune.

  • Right-click on your desktop.
  • Choose Change Desktop Background.
  • Select the Mojave option in the Dynamic Desktop section. 
  • The wallpaper will change in the background and you'll see a thumbnail of the image at the top of the window. Beside the thumbnail you should see a drop down menu with the options: Dynamic, Light or Dark. Choose Dark.
  • Now you will only see the dark version of the Mojave image.

Dark Mojave image

For more tips about organising your desktop read: How to organise your Mac desktop.