Set the background image for the session and for the lock screen.


  • Set the session and lock screen background using:
    • An attractive set of built-in images (including dynamic ones that change depending on the time of day)
    • Photos from personal library
  • Easily browse and preview wallpapers
  • Easily revert back to the previous wallpaper
  • Just Work - don't require fiddling with settings to make an image look good/correct as the background

Non Goals

  • Set a default background for all users on a multiuser system
  • Background slideshows (as in defining individual images to be part of a slideshow)
  • Set a different background per display
  • Combine an RGBA image with color or gradient background.
  • Set lock screen wallpaper separately

Relevant Art


The current design features two separate menus for setting the lock screen and session wallpapers. This means that in order to change the wallpaper there is always an extra click to open one of the dialogs, which is especially bad because the only way to preview a wallpaper is by actually setting it. This means trying out multiple wallpapers is very inefficient because it requires lots of back-and-forth.

The separation between session and lock screen wallpapers introduces addtional complexity with little benefit. Having two separate wallpapers means a more complicated interface and twice the work when changing both wallpapers to a new one. Since the wallpaper is often visible to other people while users are using the computer, privacy concerns with using the same wallpaper for both should be minimal -- if something is truly supposed to be private, using it as a wallpaper is probably a bad idea.


Android screenshot

Allows setting from a small set of built-in images or from your photos. A separate official Wallpapers app can be installed, which is linked from the main wallpaper settings view. This allows:

  • Setting images from 8 categories
  • Showing a daily image from each of the categories
  • Setting a flat color from a predefined palette


ios 11 wallpaper chooser


mac os wallpaper chooser


windows 10 wallpaper chooser

Windows spotlight automatically changes the background on the lock screen. It also allows users to indicate when they like an image, in order to determine which images should be shown in the future.

elementary OS

elementary OS


Tentative Design

We've had various concepts for the design at various points, including:

  1. Recent section with links to photos and nautilus. Additional variations and background to this design can be found here.

  2. Category-based browsing of a larger image set

  3. Simple concept which allows setting the background and lock screen simultaneously

At the time of writing, we're aiming to start with the third approach, with the idea of building out from there.

See Also


Design/SystemSettings/Background (last edited 2019-05-17 11:08:12 by AllanDay)