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How to Change the Lock Screen on a Mac

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Last updated: October 24, 2023

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TL;DR

To change the lock screen on a Mac, prepare your image using the macOS Preview app, then replace the default lockscreen.png file in the Desktop Pictures directory.

You can also personalize your Mac’s user avatar, change the desktop background, and add custom text to the lock screen for a more tailored experience.

Key Points

  • Mac supports only .PNG and .HEIC file formats for lock screen wallpapers. Ensure your image is in the correct format and size.
  • Use the macOS Preview app to resize and convert your image, then rename it to lockscreen.png.
  • To set your custom image, navigate to the Desktop Pictures directory, replace the default lockscreen.png, and restart your Mac.
  • Remember, updating your Mac desktop wallpaper will also change your lock screen image.

Ever glanced at your Mac’s lock screen and thought it could use a dash of personality? Whether it’s a snapshot of a cherished memory, an inspiring landscape, or a quirky design, your lock screen can be a reflection of you.

Dive into this guide to learn how to change the lock screen on a Mac in just a few steps and transform that mundane lock screen into a delightful masterpiece. Let’s get started!

How to Prepare Your Mac Lock Screen Image

Before changing your Mac’s lock screen image, you need an image in the correct format and size.

Mac only supports .PNG and .HEIC file formats for lock screen wallpapers. If your image is in .JPEG format, you’ll need to convert it to .PNG or .HEIC. Similarly, you need to resize the image to match your Mac’s screen resolution.

While various photo editors can assist, the built-in macOS Preview app is sufficient for this task. Follow these steps to prepare your lock screen wallpaper using Preview:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Displays in the left sidebar.
click displays in system settings
  1. You’ll see your Mac’s default screen resolution in the right pane.
mac s default screen resolution
  1. Launch the Preview app and open the desired image for resizing.
  2. In the Preview app, click Tools in the menu bar and select Adjust Size.
click tools and select adjust size
  1. A new window will appear. Modify the image’s resolution to align with your Mac’s display dimensions and confirm with OK.
change the image resolution and click ok
  1. To save your changes, click File in the menu bar and choose Save.
click file and select save
  1. If your image isn’t in PNG format, you’ll need to create a new version. Navigate to File and select Export.
click file and select export
  1. In the new window, choose PNG from the Format dropdown button as the desired format.
select png from the format dropdown button
  1. Click Save to save your image.
click the save button to save png image
  1. Lastly, rename your image file to lockscreen.png.
rename your image file to lockscreen

How to Change the Lock Screen on a Mac

Now that you have created your lock screen image, you can move on to changing the lock screen on your Mac. Below, I’ve shared the steps to change the lock screen on a Mac to your desired image:

  1. Launch Finder on your Mac.
click finder in your dock
  1. Navigate to Go > Go to Folder via the menu bar.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Type the following path into the address bar and hit Enter:
/Library/Caches/Desktop Pictures
type library caches desktop pictures
  1. Within the Desktop Pictures directory, you’ll find one or multiple folders labeled with user UUIDs. Access the folder corresponding to your user, and you should spot a file named lockscreen.png.
lockscreen png in uuid folder in desktop pictures directory
  1. Swap this file with your personalized image, ensuring it’s named lockscreen.png.
  2. Click Replace on the warning prompt.
click replace on the warning prompt
  1. You should see your custom image in the folder.
custom lockscreen image in uuid folder
  1. Restart your Mac to view the updated login wallpaper.
custom lock screen on mac

Keep in mind: If you update your Mac desktop wallpaper later on, it will also change your lock screen image.

How to Change Your Mac’s User Avatar

Each user on your Mac has a unique icon or avatar. While macOS provides a variety of default options, you can personalize it with your own image, like a selfie. Plus, you can capture and use an image directly from your webcam.

Here’s how to change your Mac’s user icon:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click your Apple ID in the upper left corner.
click the apple logo system settings apple id
  1. Hover over the profile image and select Edit when it pops up.
click edit on the profile image
  1. A new window will appear, allowing you to choose an image source or opt for the Camera to snap a photo with your Mac’s webcam. There’s also an option to set a Memoji as your avatar.
different options for profile icon
  1. Select a profile icon and click Save.
select a profile icon and click save

When connected to your Apple account, this profile picture will be consistent across all devices linked to that Apple ID. Updating your Apple ID image on your iPhone or iPad will also modify your Mac’s user profile picture.

How to Change the Mac Desktop Background Image

Changing the desktop background image on your Mac is a simple process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to change your Mac’s background image:

  1. Right-click your desktop.
  2. From the context menu, select Change Wallpaper.
right click your desktop and select change wallpaper
  1. Alternatively, click the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Wallpaper in the left sidebar.
click wallpaper in the left sidebar
  1. In the right pane, you’ll see different wallpapers. Select an image from the right pane to set it as your desktop background.

If you want to use a custom image not listed in the default folders:

  1. Click the Add Folder button at the bottom of the right pane.
click the add folder button at the bottom of the right pane
  1. Navigate to the location of your desired image on your Mac.
  2. Select the image and click Choose.
  3. Your custom image will now be added to the list, and you can select it to set as your desktop background.
  4. Once you’ve selected your desired image, you can close the window. Your Mac’s desktop background should now be updated to the image you’ve chosen.

How to Add Custom Text to Lock Screen on Mac

You can write a custom message on your Mac’s lock screen via System Settings. This message will appear on your Mac’s lock and login screens. You can add a motivational quote, a warm greeting, a reminder, or your contact details that can be helpful if you lose your Mac.

Here’s how to add custom text to your Mac’s lock screen:

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Lock Screen in the left sidebar.
select lock screen from left menu bar
  1. Toggle on the Show message when locked switch.
toggle on the show message when locked switch
  1. Click the Set button next to this switch.
click the set button next to message switch
  1. A new window will appear. Type your message in the box and click OK to save it.
type your message in the box and click ok
  1. It will appear on your Mac’s login and lock screen.
custom text appearing on mac lock screen

Why Change the Lock Screen on a Mac?

While the lock screen might seem like a small detail, it plays a significant role in your user experience, offering functional and emotional benefits.

Some reasons why you might want to change your Mac’s lock screen are as follows:

  1. 🖼️ Personalization: One of the primary reasons people change their lock screen is to personalize their device. It allows you to add a touch of individuality, making your Mac feel more yours.
  2. 🌅 Mood Enhancement: A favorite photo, calming scenery, or an inspiring quote can set a positive tone for your computing sessions. Whenever you open your Mac, you’re greeted with an image that uplifts or motivates you.
  3. 💼 Professionalism: For those using their Macs in professional settings, a clean, branded, or neutral lock screen can convey a sense of professionalism and organization.
  4. 🔒 Privacy: By using a generic or abstract image, you can avoid revealing personal or sensitive information that might be present in personal photos.
  5. 📅 Functional Reminders: Some users set wallpapers with calendars, to-do lists, or important notes as a quick reference tool.
  6. 🌸 Seasonal Updates: Celebrate different seasons, holidays, or events by updating the lock screen to match the occasion.

Customize Your Mac’s Lock Screen Like a Pro

Changing the lock screen on a Mac allows you to personalize your computer’s appearance and security. Whether you prefer a scenic photo, a favorite image, or a simple background, macOS offers customization options to make your lock screen uniquely yours.

Here are some more tips to explore to enhance your Mac experience:

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. How do I lock the screen on my Mac?

    To lock the screen on your Mac, you can use a keyboard shortcut or use the Apple menu. The Mac keyboard shortcut to lock your screen is Control ^ + Command ⌘ + Q. Alternatively, go to the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and choose Lock Screen.

  2. How do I disable the Mac lock screen?

    To disable the Mac lock screen, go to System Settings and select Lock Screen. Look for an option that says Require password after screen saver begins or display is turned off. Click the dropdown button next to this option and select Never. This will prevent the lock screen from appearing when your Mac is idle.

  3. Are all images compatible to set as a lock screen on a Mac?

    No, not all images are compatible to set as a lock screen on a Mac. Mac only supports .PNG and .HEIC file formats for lock screen wallpapers. If your image is in one of these formats but doesn’t show up on the lock screen, contact Apple Support.

  4. Is it possible to keep multiple images on the lock screen of one Mac?

    No, it isn’t possible to keep multiple images on the lock screen of one Mac. macOS does not natively support rotating multiple images on the lock screen. You can only set a single image as the lock screen wallpaper. However, third-party applications and scripts might provide a workaround to achieve this.

  5. Can multiple users have the same lock screen on Mac?

    macOS does not have a built-in feature that allows multiple users to have the same lock screen image simultaneously. Each user account on a Mac can have its own custom lock screen wallpaper. If you want to have the same lock screen image for multiple users, you would need to manually set the same image for each user individually.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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