I though of a random python program to take a URL and download the photo, then making it the Desktop background. People have had success with this before, but as of the macOS Sierra update I've been unable to do this. I've tried multiple ways, including those listed in this thread to no avail.

Does anyone know what Apple has changed their Desktop picture system to now? It's a tad frustrating when that's the only thing you set out to achieve and it's no longer the method people use.

2 Answers 2


How about if you setup your preferences to use a photo from a folder. Then your script can just drop the picture into that folder and the system will pick it up.

If you set your preferences to switch every 5 seconds, then you can change out that image whenever you script wants, and it'll be picked up within 5 seconds.

Just did a quick test moving images in and out and it works.

  • I mean in a remote computer sort of situation when you only have access to a command line environment. It may sound sketchy, but it isn't all as bad as it sounds.
    – jammehcow
    Dec 13, 2016 at 7:15
  • "Not as bad as it sounds" - hitting a high bar there. Well, you'd have to pre-configure the preferences, but could easily control the images themselves through ssh/scp, etc.
    – Alex
    Dec 14, 2016 at 3:15

Looks like it's stored in a sqlite database ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/desktoppicture.db.

Check this out: https://www.jamf.com/jamf-nation/discussions/10418/mavericks-wallpaper-the-bash-version

  • You're sure this still works in Sierra and later?
    – nohillside
    Mar 15, 2018 at 19:47

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