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How to Make a Wallpaper Slideshow in iPhoto

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 9/21/2011

Tired of the same desktop background? This tutorial shows you how to use iPhoto and your Mac to rotate through as many photo wallpapers as you want, as often as you want. Put some variety onto your desktop!

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    The basic Apple desktop background — those distinctive, blue swooshes — is attractive, but a bit impersonal. You probably already know you aren’t stuck with it and can set your own wallpaper. However, and even better, you can tell your Mac to rotate through a series of your favorite photos. I’m going to show you how to do it using iPhoto.

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    How to use iPhoto to set your Mac to display several desktop backgrounds

    1. Open iPhoto and select the pictures you want to use in your desktop wallpaper rotation.

    Command-click to select several photos at once that aren’t contiguous.

    here i've selected 5 photos to use in my rotation 

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    2. Click “Desktop" from the bottom menu in iPhoto.

    This opens “Desktop & Screen Saver" in System Preferences. Your desktop is automatically set to the first picture you selected, in this case the lovely photo of a tree fallen on my house.

    yes! click 'desktop'! i never asked for a tree to fall on my house 

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    3. Decide how often to change pictures and in what order.

    At the bottom of the preference pane is the “Change picture" option. Since you’ve selected several photos in iPhoto, this option is already checked. Click the dropdown menu to select a rotation frequency from every 5 seconds to every day, or when you log in or put your Mac to sleep. You may also choose whether to have the system rotate your photos randomly or in the order they are listed.

    i don't want to look at the destruction 24/7. sometimes you need rainbows and sweet corn. 

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    4. Which presentation option should you choose?

    If you have a widescreen monitor, chances are your photos aren’t in the same proportion as your screen. Here’s what the four options Apple provides mean:

    • Fill screen: Centers your photo, cropping either a bit from top and bottom or left and right, depending on the relation of your photo’s proportions to your display’s proportions.
    • Stretch to fill screen: Stretches or squishes your photo to fit all its information on the display. Usually this results in undesirable anamorphic scaling.
    • Center: Centers your photo and nothing more. If its dimensions are smaller than your display, you’ll see a background color surrounding your photo. If its dimensions are larger than your display, the image will appear cropped.
    • Tile: Repeats your photo to fill the screen, beginning in the upper left. If your photo is larger than the display, you’ll see everything that will fit on the display, from the upper left corner outward.

    fillscreen stretchtofill center tile 

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    And that’s it. Now you know how to take your favorite pictures from iPhoto and turn them into a gallery of changing desktop wallpaper!

    I love designing and helping people with their Macs. If you have any questions you’d like to see answered, please click my name up top and then “send a message" or e-mail me at


  • Author's professional experience.
  • All images produced by the author.

iPhoto and your Mac desktop: Tutorials

Use iPhoto to resize your photos for your desktop with this tutorial, and learn how to use several photos in a constantly-changing desktop background gallery.
  1. How to Make Images Bigger or Smaller with iPhoto
  2. How to Make a Wallpaper Slideshow in iPhoto