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How to Automatically Change your Wallpaper with Focus Modes [Video Tutorial]

28th September 2021

Jacob Woolcock


With Focus modes on iOS 15 you can customise the notifications you receive and when you see them. But you can take it to another level by also customising the very way your phone looks and the apps it has on the Home Screen! This tutorial will show you, in easy-to-follow steps, how to change your devices wallpaper based on whichever Focus Mode is active. That means a different wallpaper for Home, Work, the Gym – in fact anywhere you use Focus modes! Here’s how it works…

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Here’s another #QuickTip to help you make the most out of Focus on iOS 15. This is a quick guide to how you can set your Wallpaper to change automatically when your Focus mode goes on or off. Right, so there are two parts to this tutorial – the first half is going to be in the Photos App where we’re going to choose the pictures we want to use as our Wallpaper, then we’re going to jump into Shortcuts and create some automations to make those Wallpapers change when our Focus mode changes. Don’t be scared by Shortcuts, it’s really simple and I’ll guide you through it step-by-step.

So first of all, let’s go into the Photos App and here you’ll see I’ve got a few different images that I want to use as my Wallpapers. You can probably see that I’ve got the iPhone 13 Wallpapers here, but you can use any images you want – Photos from your camera roll or Wallpapers you found online. When you’ve chosen the first Wallpaper you want to use for a particular Focus mode you need to press the Share button and then press Add To Album to create a new album. Here you give it a name that you can find easily later, so for me with my Gym Wallpaper, I’m calling the album Gym Focus. When you’ve done this go onto the next Wallpaper you want to use and again you’re going to press Share, Add To Album and create a New Album. You may have Work Focus, or Personal Focus, or Driving Focus – whatever album name you want to use, create all the albums you need now so when we get into Shortcuts they’re ready to use. I’m going to have three for now: Work, Personal, and Gym.

And now let’s have a look at making those Wallpapers change automatically. All right, I’m going to open up the Shortcuts App on my iPhone and then we’ll go to the bottom to where it says Automation on that tab bar. Now at this point, a little cheeky reminder that if you haven’t Subscribed to my Channel already maybe you might consider doing that to help me out. I really want to grow and share my #QuickTips with as large an audience as possible so your Subscribe or your Like on this video could make all the difference.

Right, enough of that! Let’s press the Plus button in the top corner to create a new Automation. At this point, we want to make a Personal Automation which means that that Automation will be triggered by something happening on your device. In fact, those triggers come up on the next screen, and if we scroll right down to the bottom you should see all of your different Focus modes are listed there as different triggers. I’ll go onto the Gym one first. When I’ve chosen that Gym Focus mode in Shortcuts, I then have the option of enabling my Automation to run when the Focus mode is turned on or when the Focus mode is turned off. With this, you can add loads of customization but to make it simple I’m going to go for when Gym is turned on.

Then on the next screen, we can add the Actions we want to apply when Gym mode is enabled. With Shortcuts, you can add thousands of different actions here and your phone can do some really clever things as soon as you enable that Focus mode. Let’s keep it simple for today and we’re going to find the photo that we saved in that album earlier. So the first action you want is called Find Photos. Type that in and then tap on it to add to your Shortcut. From here you have a few different options, so we want to tap onto Add Filter and then rather than choosing all of our Photos in the Recents category, we’re going to tap on there and we’re going to choose the album that we created earlier. I’ve got lots of albums so I can search at the top for Gym Focus and then when I’ve selected that album Shortcuts will look for pictures in that album for me to use. There’s only one there so it’s obvious what the Wallpaper choice will be. Next up is our second and final action for this particular Shortcut. Tap on the Add Action button and this time you’re looking for Set Wallpaper. Now Set Wallpaper will automatically take the picture that you found in the action above and then we have a few options on how we’re going to display it as our Wallpaper. For example, I’m going to turn the Preview off so it won’t come up on the screen and I’m going to turn Perspective Zoom on to give it that slight depth effect. I would definitely suggest you turn Show Preview off as well but Perspective Zoom is really up to your taste. When you’ve added that Action press Next in the top corner.

On this screen, you get a summary of your Shortcut and you’ll notice at the bottom there’s a new switch that says Ask Before Running. Now if you have this on you’ll get a little banner notification each time you change Focus mode asking if you want to run

this Shortcut. I don’t want that – I want it to happen in the background seamlessly so I’ll turn that off and then I’ll confirm that choice. Then when I press Done my Shortcut is saved and active. We can check this immediately by returning to the Home Screen and then pulling down from the top right corner to Control Centre and turning on my Gym Focus. And you’ll see even on the Control Centre that that Wallpaper has now changed to that yellow-y orange image. But we haven’t set up Personal and Work yet! So I’ll jump back into Shortcuts, go back onto the Automation tab, remind you once more to Subscribe, and then we’re going to create a New Action in the top corner. Once again I’m going to create a Personal Automation that runs on the device, and as I scroll down my list of triggers and get the Focus modes I can choose Personal Focus. From here again I can choose to have the trigger enabled when Focus is turned on or off and just like before I’ll make sure my Personal Focus is turned on. This Shortcut will run our first action just like before – the one called Find Photos. You’re going to tap onto Add Filter and you’re going to find the album for whatever Focus group you want next. For me this is the Personal Focus, and that’s going to be the teal-blue Wallpaper. Then when I’ve selected that picture I’m going to go to add a New Action and I’m going to choose Set Wallpaper. Just like before I’ll turn off Show Preview and as per my taste I’ll turn on Perspective Zoom. Then tap Next in the top corner and once more you want to turn off Ask Before Running. When you press Done that automation will be saved and you’ll see it on the Automation screen.

And then guess what – we’re doing it a third time! I won’t show you the process again (you can easily go back and re-watch the video if you need to) but what I will show you now is if I go up to the Home Screen by swiping up from the bottom and then pulling down Control Centre, every time I change my Focus Mode between Work, Personal, and Gym the Wallpaper on my iPhone changes seamlessly, automatically in the background. No notifications, no pop-ups, no confirmation – it just works! And whilst I’m changing my Focus mode using Control Centre this will of course work just as well if you’re using a location-based trigger or a time-based trigger or however else you switch between your Focus modes. Your Wallpaper will change when you’re in that mode no questions asked.

Okay, and that’s it for today’s #QuickTip! I really hope you found this video helpful – there are dozens and dozens more iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 videos on my YouTube channel down below so please head there now check them out and maybe Subscribe too. I’ll see you next time.

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