Desktop images, backgrounds, wallpapers – call them what you will. I have a ton stored on my MacBook. I’ve been collecting desktop images for years now, and I’ve been wanting to use some of them on my iPod touch. The trouble is, I have no idea where most of them came from, and searching for a “subtle blue gradient with cloudy impressions” seldom returns anything useful. Instead of loading a bunch to my Camera Roll and adjusting them in iOS, I’ve used Keynote and iPhoto to create what I feel is a better solution.
First, create a new Keynote presentation, and use the Inspector to adjust the slide dimensions to match the screen resolution of your iOS device. iPhone and iPod wallpapers can match the dimensions exactly; iPad wallpapers should be square, so the image fits the screen in either portrait or landscape orientations.
- Non-Retina iPods and iPhones have a screen resolution of 320 x 480.
- 4th Gen iPods, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S have a screen resolution of 640 x 960.
- 5th gen iPods and the iPhone 5 have a screen resolution of 640 x 1136
- For Non-Retina iPads and the iPad mini, your image should be 1024 x 1024.
- For Retina iPads, your image should be 2048 x 2048.
Then orient the image how you would like. I recommend against stretching images to make them fit. Pick images whose vertical measurements are equal to or greater than the vertical resolution of the device your working with.
Once you’re done, export the backgrounds using Keynote’s Share menu. I export mine as PNG files, but JPG will save more space on your device as long as you don’t mind the reduced image quality.
Finally, create an album or an event for your new images in iPhoto.
Once you sync that album or event to your iOS device, it will appear in your Brightness & Wallpaper Settings. This keeps your cameral roll from becoming cluttered with saved backgrounds, but it does require you to occasionally sync through iTunes. While I think the tradeoff is worth it, your mileage may vary. What I haven’t tried yet is sharing the images via a shared Photo Stream, which might bypass the slow iTunes process.
Then voilà! You have your very own, nicely organized, custom iOS background that fits your device just right.
Remember, though: the images you create this way are not original to you, so do not go posting them to your site or distribute them in any way. And please do not take credit for creating the image. They’re for your own use. With that out of the way, I hope you find this useful and that you are able to give some of your old wallpapers and images new life on your iOS devices*.
*This method should really work with any mobile device, but you’ll have to go investigate your screen resolution yourself.