Dynamic Desktop Not Working on Mac, Fix

Several users have said that the Dynamic Desktop feature is not working as expected. Basically, Dynamic desktops are wallpapers that automatically change throughout the day based on your current location or time zone. A lot of users prefer a dynamic desktop instead of a static picture. You can turn on this feature by going to the Desktop pane of the Desktop & Screen Saver settings in System Preferences. It is basically when you set this up, you will notice that the color of the desktop picture you selected would shift with the time of day. If it is not changing, then this article is for you.

Users have said that they are having the following issues:

  1. The Mac is displaying the wrong image.
  2. The wallpaper is not changing automatically and gradually.
  3. Dynamic Desktop is not functioning when Dark Mode is enabled.
Dynamic Desktop

This article explains what you can do if you are having similar issues with Dynamic Desktop on your Mac. Follow the steps below:

Dynamic Desktop

1. Try another dynamic desktop picture. There may be something with the image you wanted to use, especially if you are using a wallpaper that was downloaded from the web. Simply open System Preferences and choose Desktop & Screensaver. Select another wallpaper from the “Dynamic Desktop” section.

2. Update your Mac. Ensure that you are running the latest version of macOS. Go to System Preferences > Software Update and check for updates. If there is an update available, click Update and then follow the onscreen instructions.

macOS Update

3. Check your location and time zone settings. Please check the following settings:

  • Ensure that Location Services is turned on. You can check this by going to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy. Then click the Privacy tab and select Location Services. Ensure that the “Enable Location Services” box is selected. You may have to click the Lock icon and enter your admin password to unlock this section. Please note that enabling Location Services is not required, if this is disabled, your Mac will change Dynamic Desktop wallpapers based on your time zone.
Mac Location Services
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Date & Time. And make sure that the settings are correct. You may have to click the Lock icon to unlock the section. You may have to enter your admin password. In the Date & Time pane, turn on Set Automatically by selecting ”Set date and time automatically”. Then click the Time Zone pane and ensure that ”Set time zone automatically using current location” is selected.
Mac Date and Time
  • On your Mac, click the Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Language & Region. Ensure that your region is correctly selected.
Mac Region

4. Boot into Safe Mode. Use Safe Mode and then test your issue in Safe Mode and then leave Safe Mode and then test again. First, determine your Mac type: Apple silicon or Intel. You can check this by going to the Apple menu > About This Mac.

Mac Apple silicon or Intel

Follow the appropriate steps:

Apple silicon:

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Wait for your Mac to fully turn off.
  • Press and hold the power button until the startup options window appear.
  • Select your startup disk.
  • Press and hold the shift key and click “Continue in Safe Mode.”
  • And login to your Mac.


  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key until you see the login screen.
  • Then log in to your Mac.

As stated above, test your issue in Safe Mode. Then leave Safe Mode (simply restart your computer) and check your problem again.

5. Reset NVRAM. If your computer is an Intel-based Mac, try resetting NVRAM (also called PRAM). Doing so will reset some of your desktop settings, and that may fix your problem. Here is how:

  • Turn off your Mac.
  • Wait for your Mac to turn off.
  • Locate these four keys: Option, Command, P, and R. Do not press them yet.
  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold these four keys: Option, Command, P, and R.
  • Keep holding these keys for 20 seconds.
  • Then release them.
  • Your Mac will appear restarting.
NVRAM keys

If resetting NVRAM does not fix the Dynamic Desktop problem, try resetting the SMC.

See also:

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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1 thought on “Dynamic Desktop Not Working on Mac, Fix”

  1. Make sure the Dynamic picture you are wanting is downloaded from the cloud. You will see a cloud pic to download image first than it will apply to your desktop. Give it a full minute.


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