How to Make Animated Wallpaper

Updated April 17, 2017

A computer monitor can be, in itself, extremely dull-looking. This is why computer companies began including "wallpaper" backgrounds as far back as the mid-70s. These days Microsoft includes a large number of wallpapers, or "desktop backgrounds," in its operating system. They are easy to apply, but you might have the same look as millions of other users. If you want your own desktop wallpaper, you will have to make your own and can include an animated element. If you have access to Photoshop CS3 or better you can create this yourself in a short time. You also can use the freeware program GIMP.

Decide the look of your animated wallpaper. You could use photos that you have loaded onto your computer for the wallpaper, but many people already have screensavers based on their "My Pictures" folder. Another approach would be to use the shape tools in Photoshop to create animated objects that move across the screen.

Right-click on your desktop and from the options select "Properties." In the dialogue box that opens click on the "Settings" tab. Near the bottom you will see the resolution settings for your particular screen. Note these and close the dialogue.

Open Photoshop. Select "File" and click "New." In the new document dialogue that appears enter the size you want for the document (it should be the same as the size of your screen). Click "OK."

Select the "Paint Bucket" tool from the toolbar and use it to fill the canvas with the colour of your choice. Alternatively you could use the "Gradient" tool to apply a gradient across the canvas.

Click on the "New Layer" icon at the under the "Layers" panel. Select the new layer.

Select the "Custom Shape"" tool from the toolbar. Set the options at the top to "Fill" and choose a shape from the presets. For example, you might want to have snowflakes falling from the top. In this case you would change the foreground colour you are using to white. Then use the tool to draw a series of snowflakes on the canvas.

Select "Windows" at the top and click on "Animation." A timeline will appear at the bottom. Click on the "Duplicate" icon under the timeline. You will now have two frames. Select the first frame and use the "Move" tool to move the snowflakes up out of sight. Then select the second frame and move the snowflakes down out of sight.

Click on the "Tweening" icon under the timeline. In the dialogue, select the number of frames you want for the animation. The more you have the more smoothly it will move, but this will also use more computer memory.

Select "File" and click "Save for Web or Devices." In the dialogue that opens select GIF as the file type and click "Save." Name your file and click "Save."

Right-click on your desktop and chose "Properties." In the dialogue, select the "Desktop" tab and click on the "Browse" button. Browse to the GIF animation you saved and open it. Then click "Apply" and "OK." Your new animated wallpaper has been applied.

Things You'll Need

  • Photoshop CS3 or GIMP
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About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.