Enable hidden iMac wallpapers on any Mac or MacBook

There are hidden desktop wallpapers in macOS that are only visible if you have Apple’s new 24in M1-powered iMac. Here is how to enable both light and dark wallpapers and use them on any Mac.

To make the new iMac launched in 2021 stand out from the previous iMacs and Mac mini and MacBooks, Apple decided to include unique desktop wallpaper images. The new iMac hardware has smart new colors and so did the desktop. You could even match the desktop wallpaper color to the color of the iMac, which is great!

What you may not realize is that these unique iMac wallpapers are actually on everyone’s Mac. Well, everyone that has the latest version of macOS. There is a collection of iMac wallpaper images all beginning with the ‘hello…’ that is hidden on other Macs. However, it is an easy task to find and use these wallpaper images on any Mac, MacBook, M1 or Intel powered.

There are actually more images than at first appears and these new wallpaper files contain both light and dark versions. The light wallpaper image is used by default, but there is an easy way to use the dark version if you prefer. Let’s see how to do it.

Choose desktop wallpaper

Selecting desktop wallpaper in System Preferences in macOS on the Apple Mac
System Preferences Desktop & Screen Saver

Open System Preferences on the Mac and then click the Desktop & Screen Saver icon. Expand Apple on the left and select Desktop Pictures below it if it is not already selected. You can see thumbnail images of all the desktop wallpaper files on the Mac, or can you? No, this is not all the wallpaper that is available and what you cannot see are the hidden iMac ones.

What you may not realize is that you can double click the Desktop Pictures folder. Try it and see.

Browse wallpaper files in Finder

Browsing the Mac disk with Finder
Desktop Pictures is a Library folder

Double click the Desktop Pictures folder in System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver and a Finder window opens with the Desktop Pictures folder selected. Double click it to open it.

Browsing desktop wallpaper files with Finder on the Apple Mac
Wallpaper files on the Mac disk

Scroll down the list of files until you come to a series of images beginning with “hello…” These are the desktop wallpaper files that are used on the M1-powered iMac. You can see the colors they are based on in the filenames.

View and apply wallpaper

Use an image as desktop wallpaper on the Apple Mac
Set an image as desktop wallpaper

Here I changed the Finder view to icons so the desktop wallpaper files show as thumbnails. Ctrl+click any file you want, move the mouse down to the Services sub-menu and click Set Desktop Picture. The exclusive iMac image is applied to the desktop, no matter which Mac you have, which is brilliant!

This is a general way to set the desktop wallpaper to any image on the disk. Ctrl+click an image and select Services > Set Desktop Picture. Remember it, we will use it again when we have extracted the dark image.

Grab the dark wallpaper in Preview

View desktop wallpaper files in Preview
Preview desktop wallpaper

Double click any of these desktop wallpaper images in the Finder window and they open automatically in the Preview app. Show the thumbnails sidebar and you will see that there are actually two images in the file, light and dark ones. When the image is set as the desktop, only the light image is seen and there does not appear to be a way to select the dark image.

Here is how to do it. Click the dark thumbnail in the Preview app’s sidebar and press Cmd+C to copy the image. Go to the File menu and select New From Clipboard. You now have a copy of the dark wallpaper in a new Preview window to do as we want. What we want is to resize it to the desktop and save it.

Resize the dark desktop wallpaper

Resize an image in Preview
Resize images in Preview

The desktop wallpaper image is very large and unless you have an equally large monitor, you should resize it to the desktop resolution. Go to Tools > Adjust Size and set the width and height to that of your screen. The wallpaper seems to be tall and narrow, so click the padlock to the right of Width and Height so they can be adjusted individually.

I am using an old MacBook Air for this and my screen resolution is 1440 x 900. Don’t copy me, use whatever resolution the screen on your Mac uses.

Save and apply the dark wallpaper

Save an image in the Preview app on the Apple Mac
Save the wallpaper image

Go to File > Export and save the image from Preview. A good place to save it is the Pictures folder as a .png image. This wallpaper is the dark version of Hello Blue, so I called it Hello Blue Dark.png.

You can then go to Finder, open the Pictures folder, Ctrl+click the image and select Services > Set Desktop Picture as before. You now have the dark version of the hidden iMac wallpaper on your desktop.

The Apple Mac desktop with dark wallpaper image
Dark iMac wallpaper on the desktop

To sum up, open the Desktop Pictures folder in Finder, Ctrl+click the “hello…” images and select Services > Set Desktop Picture to set the light version of the wallpaper. Open the wallpaper file in Preview, copy the dark image and save it as a new file, then set it as the desktop image to use the dark version.

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