iOS 13 Shortcuts can automatically download new wallpaper

In iOS 13, the shortcuts have obtained new pretty wild powers. You can run shortcuts automatically, in the background, for example, depending on the time of day or your location. You can touch your iPhone with an RFID tag and a shortcut will be activated. You can have your iPhone transfer a podcast from your AirPods to an AirPlay speaker when you get home.

And, as we'll see today, you can have your iPhone or iPad download and upload a new wallpaper automatically, so you can see a fresh background every morning.

Automatic background shortcut

This direct access comes from the user of Reddit Dizzyfalcon. Take a new Unsplash wallpaper and use the new Set wallpaper actions in the iOS 13 Shortcuts application to assign it as a blocking wallpaper. You can go to r / Shortcuts subreddit to take the version of Dizzyfalcon, or you can go ahead and build yours.

  You can automate any shortcut in iOS 13.
You can automate any shortcut in iOS 13. [19659007] Photo: Mac Worship

This shortcut has two actions. First, take a random background image of Unsplash, using a URL like this:

That particular URL is for a portrait-oriented image that it fits the 2018 iPad Pro. You should replace the screen resolution of your own device here.

The following action is new for iOS 13. Set the wallpaper on any image that you pass. And that's it.

Execute the direct access of the wallpaper

My first attempt with this shortcut was to execute it automatically. The shortcuts can execute a shortcut at a certain time, when an alarm sounds, and when an alarm stops (among many other new automation activators).

  The new action Set wallpaper in iOS 13 Shortcuts.
The new Wallpaper Set action in iOS 13 shortcuts.
Photo: Cult of Mac

I tried this, creating a new automation and adding the above actions. It did not work When I slept the test alarm, the wallpaper stayed the same. Next, I created an abbreviated manual activation method and then told my automation that would execute that method . In that case, it worked. I slept an alarm, and the wallpaper changed. It was pretty magical! Subsequent tests were unpredictable, but that should change in the final version.

Like everything else in the current betas of iOS 13 and iPadOS, the automations of shortcuts are quite unstable. But sometimes they work. And if you prefer, you can add the manual shortcut to the new widgets panel on the home screen, and just touch the shortcut to run it whenever you want a new wallpaper.


You may not want to use a wallpaper made by strangers, and uploaded to the internet. In my first test, for example, I got a corny picture of a couple who got very horny in a "romantic" scene by candlelight. It was safe for work (to be honest, anything is safe for work in my home office), but aesthetically more embarrassing than commercial copulation.

If you prefer, you can modify the shortcut to choose an image from your own photo library. – Maybe of your favorites. Or you can make it fire every hour, changing the scene to match the time of day (or night), like the dynamic Wallpapers of macOS Mojave. Or you can add a step to save the image on the camera roll, in case you like it and want to use it again.

There are many possibilities, which is the beauty of shortcuts. I think the new skills of Shortcuts and the desktop class Safari will be the true stars of iPadOS this fall.

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