You can set a GIF as your iPhone’s lock screen wallpaper, but it won’t animate like it does when viewing the image in the Photos app. It’s an annoying limitation on iOS, but one that’s easily bypassed with a little work.
If you want to have an animated wallpaper on your lock screen in iOS 15.6 or older, the easiest way is to go to Settings -> Wallpaper -> Choose a new wallpaper and then select one of Apple’s available “live” wallpapers. Live options vary by iPhone model and software version, but there should always be a few to choose from. Still, there’s a whole world of GIFs out there, so why limit yourself to one or two Apple live wallpapers?
Because the background editor converts GIFs into still images, you’ll need to convert the GIF you want to use as your lock screen wallpaper into a Live Photo, a format that animates each time you press the screen.
Normally I would turn to the Shortcuts app to create and use a custom shortcut to perform image conversions. Finally, there are actions that help convert files into different formats. Even so, Apple never included an action to convert anything into a Live Photo — even with all the new actions included in iOS 16.
Compatibility with iOS 16
Before proceeding, it’s important to note that iOS 16, which is still in beta testing, no longer supports live wallpapers on the lock screen. There are a ton of new lock screen features for the iPhone, including the new lock screen toggle, which takes on the long-press gesture required to animate live wallpapers. Dynamic wallpapers are still supported and there are new weather and astronomy wallpapers that update in real time, but live wallpapers no longer work.
How to convert GIFs to live wallpapers
Since there are no shortcuts worth looking for to convert GIF to Live Photos, we have to turn to the App Store for a solution. Below are some apps that you can use to convert a GIF to a Live Photo.
- Pixact: Includes a watermark on saved Live Photos unless you pay $2.99 for Pro features.
- inLive: Free with ads. If you upgrade to the $4.99 ad-free version, you can choose how many loops to insert to lengthen the animation.
- TurnLive: Free but limited to GIFs less than three seconds long and no repeat, but you can flip the results. To choose how many times it repeats and not have to trim before converting each time, you have to pay $2.99 weekly, which is quite a high price.
- VideoToLive: Free but with lots of ads and a clunky interface. You can purchase the ad-free version for $3.99.
- imgLive: Free, even with lots of ads. It’s limited to GIFs under five seconds long, although you can make them longer with repeat options. You are often bugged to upgrade to Pro version for $23.99 or expensive subscription.
In order not to feel like you have to pay to fully use any of the above apps, it is worth using an app that costs nothing at all, such as Giphy. You can easily convert any GIF available on Giphy into a Live Photo, which you can then set as your lock screen live wallpaper.
The downside of Giphy is that it won’t convert GIFs in your photo library unless you upload them to Giphy as either public or private GIFs. To do this, simply open the share sheet for the GIF and select Giphy, upload it, and then convert it to Live Photo like you would any other GIF on Giphy.
To convert a GIF to a Live Photo on Giphy, tap the ellipse icon when viewing. Select “Convert to Live Photo” when the actions appear, then choose between “Save as Live Photo (Full Screen)” and “Save as Live Photo (Fit Screen)”. Giphy saves the Live Photo to your Photos app once you make your selection.
To set your new live wallpaper, either open the share sheet from Live Photo in Photos and select “Set as wallpaper” or go to Settings -> Wallpaper -> Choose a new wallpaper. Just make sure you don’t turn off the Live Photo feature or it will appear as a still image on your lock screen.
Again, iOS 16 ditches live wallpapers in favor of its new lock screen toggle. If you love live wallpapers on your lock screen, you might want to wait to update to iOS 16 until you are ready to let live wallpapers go.
Keep your connection secure with no monthly bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase at the new Gadget Hacks Shop and watch Hulu or Netflix with no regional restrictions, increase security when browsing public networks, and much more.
Buy Now (80% off) >
Other worthwhile offers to try: