I’ve had several enquiries from people interested in making their own wallpaper for the iPad/iPhone recently. While this is simple enough to do once you know how it’s a topic that could certainly benefit from a quick demonstration.

Wallpaper creation for iPhone is easier in one specific way: the wallpaper does not rotate as the screen is rotated, on the iPad it does.

So for the iPhone it’s a simple matter of using your image editor of choice and creating an image of the correct dimensions. These are as follows:

  • iPhone 1/3G/3GS – 320 x 480 at 163 ppi
  • iPhone 4 (Retina Display) – 640 x 960 at 326 ppi

However, for the iPad a few tricks are needed. When held vertically the iPad’s screen dimensions are 768 pixels wide and 1024 pixels tall. This is reversed when held horizontally to 1024 wide and 768 tall. When the screen is changed from one orientation to the other the wallpaper is automatically rotated as required to match. The problem is that the rotation is all that happens, the wallpaper is not resized or re-scaled to correctly fit the new dimensions. In some respects this is a good thing as it would serve to distort the image but it does make creating workable wallpaper a little more difficult.

So how’s it done?

  • The best way to proceed is by creating an image sized 1024 x 1024 pixels but first there are several gotchas to bear in mind!
  • The only part of the image always displayed is what is contained within the centre 768 x 768 area, displayed in green in the guide image below.
  • A square of 128 x 128 pixels in each corner will never be displayed, these areas are shown in red.
  • A strip 128 pixels high and 768 pixels wide at the centre of both the top and bottom will only be displayed when the iPad is in a vertical orientation, these areas are shown in yellow.
  • A strip 768 pixels high and 128 pixels wide in the middle of both the left and right will only be displayed when the iPad is in a horizontal orientation, these areas are shown in blue.

Guide to wallpaper safe areas

What this means in terms of good wallpaper creation is: keep the important elements central and using a template is the best way to ensure you comply with the guidelines. I’ve created a template in several different formats for you to experiment with – download here.

This is the full version of a wallpaper I created for MacBites showing the areas outlined in the rules.

MacBites iPad Wallpaper showing the safe areas

(You can download the MacBites wallpaper from the Gear section of MacBites website.)

Your wallpapers can be transferred to your iPad via the standard iTunes sync or, as I tend to prefer, e-mailed to yourself and saved to the Photos on your iPad. A custom background can be set for both the Lock Screen and the Home Screen via the Settings > Brightness & Wallpaper option.

Open the Settings app:

Settings icon in iOS

Select the Brightness & Settings option:

Configuring the Brightness & Settings options

Select the required image and specify whether to use the image for the Lock Screen, the Home Screen or both screens.

Setting the Wallpaper options

Enjoy! Don’t forget to leave me a comment with a link to your own creations 😉