How to change login screen wallpaper on macOS Catalina [off-topic]

Just the other day I finally managed to solve something that had been bugging me for quite a while on my iMac.

I then started thinking of how and where to share what I had just discovered, and while I was assessing the most appropriate forum(s) to post that information to, the following realisation crossed my mind:

Hold on a second…I’ve got a blog!!

Sure, this blog is primarily intended for self-improvement and increasing success with women, but the original reason I decided to create this blog, instead of posting my material on some forum, was to have full control over my own material. And since I’ve just decided to follow the very same approach also with content that has nothing to do with getting women, I welcome you to the newly-created “Off-topic” category.

There will be some more “off-topic” posts coming along in the future, and they will be blended within the “core” posts related to daygame.

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As long I had High Sierra on the iMac, it was pretty straightforward to change both the desktop wallpaper and the login wallpaper.

I skipped the Mojave update, so I can’t comment on that, but when I installed Catalina, I realised to my disappointment that changing the login wallpaper was not so simple anymore. I was not impressed by that choice by Apple, since I found it patronising (but then again, I have just bought my very first iPhone, and that concept of Apple being patronising with its design choices has taken on a whole new meaning).

I mean, the default Catalina login wallpaper is not bad, but the 5K wallpapers which I spent a good amount of time selecting are of a completely different level.

Initially I gave up on my quest for getting rid of the default login wallpaper, since I couldn’t find a straightforward way to do it and online there were different opinions on whether that was even possible or not.

Then last week, the default login wallpaper changed without me having run any updates, and it became a different photo of the very same spot in Catalina Island. The photo was showing the island by day this time around, and it was actually a bit better than the previous photo by night, by still…

I decided to have another go at getting rid of the default login wallpaper, and in the end I managed to do so by pure chance.

Yes, you read it right, by pure chance. Since while just being curious and playing around, I unintentionally managed to change the login wallpaper without knowing to have done so until the following day, when I turned on the iMac again and I was welcomed by a much better picture than the one selected by Apple.

There must be a little bug in MacOS that made it possible, and even if I don’t know the exact steps which triggered the change, I’m going to list everything I’ve done during that few minutes while I was playing around last Saturday.

Considering all that, I cannot guarantee that these instructions will do the trick, because there may be something else which I did but can’t remember right now. But still, if like me you too cannot be bothered of dealing with HEIC files, System Integrity Protection, killall Finder, etc, just give those reverse-engineered steps a go.

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Let’s go down to business now. And by the way, the following “procedure” was executed on MacOS Catalina 10.15.2.


Step 1: Create a folder somewhere with the wallpapers you want to use.


I decided to create that folder in Documents, and initially it was called “Wallpapers 5K” (the name will need to change later on).

!!! In the folder you have just created with your favourite wallpapers, make sure that the one you want to use as the login wallpaper is alphabetically the first one of the list.

Step 2: Right click somewhere on the empty part of the desktop and select Change Desktop Background…


Step 3: Select the folder you have created.


(note: the above picture was taken after I had renamed the folder at Step 8).

Step 4: Make backup using Time Machine.

Fact is, even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to revert the change I unintentionally applied, apart from either restoring a backup or updating to a new MacOS version.

Reverse-engineering of what I did last Saturday

Step 5: Click on Finder.


Step 6: Hit Command + Shift + G to bring up the “Go to the folder:” window.


Step 7: Enter the following path /Library/Desktop Pictures and click Go.

Step 8: Go back to Documents or wherever you put the folder created at Step 1, and rename it with the name of your preference (this will be the final name, not going to change again).

Step 9: Since what you did at Step 3 does not work anymore, considering that you have just renamed the target folder you selected there, wait for the 15 minutes to elapse and for the desktop wallpaper to revert back to one of the default images.

Step 10: Then, repeat Step 2 and Step 3 to select once again the newly-renamed folder.


Step 11: Now select Desktop Pictures.


Step 12: Play with the images in Dynamic Desktops and Desktop Pictures, clicking on a few of them as you please.


Step 13: Select once again the folder with your own wallpapers (Step 10).

Step 14: Close the Desktop & Screen Saver window.

Step 15: Close the Library folder you opened at Step 7.

Step 16: Call it a day.

This is the recollection of what I did last Saturday. Initially I thought not to have achieved what I was after, since the steps listed above are not supposed to change the login wallpaper. Then, on Sunday morning I turned on the iMac once again, I noticed to my surprise that the Catalina login wallpaper had gone, and that the first image from my custom wallpaper folder was being displayed instead!!

Note: the screenshot tool dims the image when used on a locked screen, and as such the real-life picture is much brighter than that

It has been almost a week now, and every time I turn on the iMac the login wallpaper is always the image shown above. Excellent!

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