iPhone 6s: how to make your own custom Live Photo wallpaper from a video or GIF animation

There are many things to like about the iPhone 6s, and one of them is its new Live Photos feature. The latter is a fancy name for the animated versions of your images, taken automatically as you shoot. They do a good job at bringing your images to life when you view them in your gallery. They make good wallpapers as well – animations that make your lock screen more fun. And in this post, we'll show you how to make custom ones, from videos or GIF animations.

Before we proceed further, we must point out that you'll need an iPhone 6s or an iPhone 6s Plus to pull off this hack. That's because Live Photos go hand in hand with 3D Touch, and older iPhones lack the latter. Also, you'll need a computer, PC or Mac, with access to the internet. Alright, now let's make our own, custom animated wallpaper!

The Lazy Way

As Bill Gates once said, if you give a hard job to a lazy guy, they'll eventually find an easy way to do it. In our case, the lazy way of making a custom animated wallpaper is by taking a Live Photo of a computer's display. Yes, seriously. 

Let's say that you've found a cool video online and you wish to set a portion of it as your animated wallpaper. To take a Live Photo of it, set the brightness of your computer's screen high, preferably to the maximum setting if you're on a laptop. Now play the video full screen at the highest quality and point your iPhone's camera at it. Try to keep your hands as steady as possible. Also, keep in mind that Live photos are captured over 3 seconds – 1.5 seconds before and 1.5 seconds after you press the shutter. That's why you should snap the photo about 1.5 seconds after the action begins. 

Here is an example where we use a Live Photo we took using this method. By the way, that's Maru – one of the cutest and most popular kitties on the web.

The "right" way

The lazy way of making a custom wallpaper from a Live Photo does work, but the quality of the image it produces isn't exactly great. That's why we'll go over this alternative method, which is more complicated and time-consuming, but may yield better results. 

It all boils down to the following: when the iPhone 6s takes a Live Photo, it saves a still, high-quality version of it as a standard JPEG image, along with an animation in MOV format. If you replace the two with a custom JPEG and MOV file pair, you'll be able to set that as your wallpaper.  

How do you make these JPEG and MOV files? Well, the latter is the trickier of the two. Basically, a MOV file is a video, and teaching you how to edit videos goes beyond the scope of this tutorial. We can, however, show you how to make a MOV video out of a GIF animation in a few steps. 

  1. Start by finding a GIF you like, preferably one that's of good quality and that would look nice in portrait orientation. 
  2. Head over to CloudConvert.com, choose that you want to convert a GIF to MOV, and upload the GIF for conversion. Download the MOV file when it is ready.
  3. Save a JPEG copy of the GIF animation as well. For this task, use any graphics editor that you're familiar with. Even Paint will do just fine.

Okay, now it is time to transfer the JPEG and MOV files you just made to your iPhone. But there's a catch. To set a Live Photo as wallpaper, the image has to be inside your Camera Roll, and you can't just copy and paste files into your iPhone's Camera Roll folder. Instead, you really need to access your iPhone's file system using a special tool – a file manager. We'll be using iMazing for this tutorial, as it is compatible with the iOS 9.1 update. 

While iMazing is downloading and installing, take a Live Photo. It doesn't have to be of anything in particular. We just need to create JPEG and MOV files that will serve as placeholders. They'll be replaced by the JPEG and MOV files you made earlier. Now let's get those files moving.

This how-to guide was inspired by Rlamb2 and his tutorial on Reddit

Related phones

iPhone 6s
  • Display 4.7 inches
    1334 x 750 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera)
    5 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A9 APL0898, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1715 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
iPhone 6s Plus
  • Display 5.5 inches
    1920 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Single camera)
    5 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A9, 2GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2750 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x



19. matrixreal31

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 12, 2017

try themeboss free it's new on appstore

18. neoanomaly6

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 09, 2009

Well now there is an "App for that" called Intolive. Works great!!

17. neoanomaly6

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 09, 2009


4. Wulfgardr

Posts: 73; Member since: Oct 29, 2014


16. discharge unregistered

Exactly Sammy!!!

3. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Wow Apple, just 7 years behind jailbreak

9. 8ozchickenbreast unregistered

Most of the industry is behind jailbreak. These main features like PiP and split view were on the OG iPhone. Aside the facts.... Funny when I see people shout "I had blablabla first! ME ME ME ME! NO ONE ELSE! ME FIRST MOMMY ME FIRST!"

10. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Have to agree, jailbreak is probably the biggest source of innovations in mobile industry

12. 8ozchickenbreast unregistered

Sad that most Android users have no ideal and only think jailbreak is for theming icons lol.

13. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Jailbreak is awesome but there should be some middle ground, and also Apple shouldn't forbid it so badly... it should push innovation. I like when I see Sony or other manufacturers giving out tools for easy unlocking bootloader and such.... they help developers unlock the true potential instead of slowing it down because of greedy reasons.

15. discharge unregistered

Apples Ben greedy since day one, that's why I don't use them no longer, you pay a overrated cost but Apple blocks than a jailbreak voids warranty, try android no jb no blocks androids have had for years apples newest features Apple will never match android only a higher price!! Paying more don't bring the best

1. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

S7 gonna have something like this.

2. Fire5

Posts: 315; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

HTC has for years friend.

5. Ninetysix

Posts: 2967; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Please tell us something that we don't already know. S-Touch and S-LivePic will be added.

7. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Until you realize that S4 already had Animated Photo feature. "Unlike any other way of taking a photo" Phil Schiller

11. Ninetysix

Posts: 2967; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Dude.. it's not even the same. You take a pic/video and you select a part that you want to animate. I know since my S4 is here collecting dust.

6. buccob

Posts: 2981; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

The funny thing is that 5 years ago I had a BlackBerry Storm2, and that phone was able to have animated wallpapers GIF-Like.... This is absolutely pathetic, specially if you have to do it this way.

8. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Dude, my Nokia 6230 could do this

14. discharge unregistered

Samsung not 5 or edge s6 plus I use both and got all that animated wallpapers... That's Apple for ya, nickel n dime you!!

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