My Mac wallpaper keeps resetting. How do I stop it?

Mac wallpaper
New look: get the wallpaper you want (Image by Firmbee from Pixabay)

You’ve found a Mac wallpaper – or desktop background – that you L-O-V-E, but the Mac’s having none of it. Every time you switch the Mac back on after powering down, the wallpaper has gone back to the default setting. If your Mac wallpaper keeps resetting, here’s how to make it stop.

This problem seems to afflict Mac users who are using an external display with a MacBook. The solution, which I found on one of the Apple support forums, requires some jiggery-pokery (technical term) with the display cable. Here goes.

How to stop the Mac wallpaper from resetting

  1. Make sure you’ve got the laptop and external screen switched on, with the laptop lid open and screen on
  2. Physically disconnect the external display by pulling its cable out of the Mac
  3. Reselect your chosen wallpaper from System Preferences
  4. Shut down the Mac
  5. Restart the Mac without the external screen connected
  6. Once you’ve logged in and reached the desktop, re-connect the external display

The next time you restart the Mac, your chosen wallpaper should remain in place.

If this works for you (as it did for me), let us know on the comments below.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at


Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This works ONLY when I disconnect the external monitor everytime before turning MacBook back on. Meaning, when MacBook is restarted WITH the monitor connected, it erases the settings and goes back to default wallpaper, for some reason. The only way to go around this trouble is to turn off MacBook and disconnect the monitor, and reconnect it when the computer is fully on. VERY ANNOYING. I mean, it’s Apple and MacBook. How can something so simple turn out to be such a mess? WHY CAN’T I JUST SET THE WALLPAPERS FOR BOTH SCREENS AND LEAVE IT AT THAT? I want to set my wallpapers for both screens only for once and just leave the monitor connected, turn off and on without this stupid problem. If someone have a solution for this, please please let me know.

  • I had the same issue, but I found a fix that worked for me! Maybe it’ll help you out too.
    I was keeping my wallpaper in a file path within my iCloud folders. I think whenever I downloaded a new file to iCloud, the wallpaper settings would lose the file path and revert to default. Moving the wallpaper image to my native downloads folder outside of my iCloud folders fixed it for me! Haven’t had the wallpaper settings revert since