I have a photo set as my current iPhone wallpaper, which I would like to save. I have forgotten where I stored this file on my computer originally, so I can't easily go back to place it back on my phone. It has since been deleted from my camera roll.

Is there any way to export the photo that is currently set as the wallpaper, so that I can change the wallpaper to something else, but save the other one?

  • 1
    Does anyone have an update to this? I've tried Geoff's recommendation above but am not having much luck. Wonder if there have been changes to iOS recently which renders this previous solution obsolete.
    – BBo
    Nov 22, 2020 at 19:53

20 Answers 20


You cannot export the wallpaper, depending on the pattern (if it were repetitive) it would be possible to take screen shots and after emailing these to your self you could edit in Photoshop (other editing software is available)

You would need to take one shot of a page in iOS with only one app, and then if it is a repeatable patern you can edit out or clone out the app on the screen and the apps at the bottom.

Alternatively you can or tap and hold an app to get to wiggle mode, and go to the far right to get a "clean" page, then screenshot this.

Not great but that is the only way, I'm afraid.


As an expansion to Macjack's answer, here's the process I just followed to retrieve the lock screen wallpaper on my phone.

Looking in the /Users/<youruser>/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backups folder is effective but very time consuming, especially if you have a lot of files/images in your backup (my phone a 16GB iPhone 5 that is pretty full had nearly 7000 files in there). However, the majority of them were not photos for me.

So I wrote a small script to extract the photos and rename them so they have the proper file extension. This makes it possible to use the image carousel preview for reviewing the images quickly.

Get the script here. (right click and 'Save link as' and save into your Downloads folder)

Now, open Terminal (type 'terminal' into spotlight). Then copy and paste this into the terminal window:

cd ~/Library/'Application Support'/MobileSync/Backups ~/iPhone-Backup-Copy
BACKUP=$(ls -t . | head -n1)
cp -rv "$BACKUP" ~/iPhone-Backup-Copy
cd ~/iPhone-Backup-Copy
chmod +x ~/Downloads/img-separator.sh
~/Downloads/img-separator.sh "$BACKUP"

What those six lines do, for non-programmers:

  1. "moves" you into the Backup directory
  2. Gets the name of the newest backup
  3. Copies the newest backup directory into a place with looser permissions
  4. "moves" you into that new backup copy
  5. Makes the script I wrote above "executable" (able to be run)
  6. Runs my script, telling it the name of the backup to process

And here is a description of what the script does.

  • I love this solution but I haven't gotten it to work yet. I've hit a snag in the script: mv: rename image-search-yD0wt/png/* to image-search-yD0wt/png/*.png: No such file or directory. Any ideas?
    – hairboat
    Jul 10, 2015 at 22:20
  • @abbyhairboat I think the issue is that there are no png files found, and the script is unprepared for that eventuality :) I'll take a look at fixing it.
    – Zefira
    Jul 11, 2015 at 6:09
  • @abbyhairboat okay, it should work now. I've updated the link, so you should redownload the script and then follow the instructions in the answer again.
    – Zefira
    Jul 11, 2015 at 6:21
  • Script works for me now, but it's not finding any images. Oh, and btw the directory is just Backup for me, singular.
    – hairboat
    Jul 13, 2015 at 15:03
  • 2
    Thanks for the script, it simplified searching through my images a lot! One thing to note though: at least on Big Sur, the backup folder permissions are more restrictive and I had to copy the backup contents to another folder. I ran the script on that copy and it worked just fine.
    – Form
    Sep 29, 2021 at 16:24

This is the best solution for non jailbroken phones with wallpaper on the lockscreen so far.

Put your phone to charge so it will take almost all the UI down for a sec and print the screen. This will get you the image with the battery UI only, then you print another picture from the lock screen after you scrolled everything up or down. compose on photoshop.


  • The second step is not available in iOS 15, but it's possible to clean all the notification and then drag the clock and the "No notifications" tip beyond the upper screen border by using two hands.
    – Ivan Mir
    Jul 16 at 1:02

You may find the photo in the iPhone backup on your computer.

On a Mac press Alt and select Go to in the menu bar. There open Library. Assure that you are in column view in the new window. Got to UserName/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup.

There you will find strangely named folders with all the backed up files. Go through the one, that seems to be one that is the latest backup for your iPhone. You may want to check on which date you have created the latest backup for your iPhone in iTunes first. Some of the backed up files will have the same date.

In the right column you will see a preview of any selected file. Many files will be blank though.

Copy the right one to another location on your computer and add .tiff or .jpg to the file name. Open in Preview other any appropriate program.

With that procedure I was able to recover the background that I had carried over from my first iPhone. I had to go through a lot of files though. The desired one was about number 800 of 4.500 files.

  • You can at least narrow down this extremely long list of files with the command ls | xargs file | sort -k2 | grep image > /tmp/images.
    – Jim L.
    Mar 23, 2016 at 3:50

If your device is jailbroken, you can access the current wallpaper which is stored in:


Try this: http://www.tineye.com/

I had the same problem, so I took a screenshot, uploaded it on that website and it found my image!

  • 2
    Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – Daniel
    Sep 6, 2012 at 17:11
  • 2
    Very interesting; sadly, it won't work for my wallpaper which was a family photo :)
    – Nicole
    Sep 6, 2012 at 17:21

One way that may require the help of an octopus is to go to Wallpaper settings click on wallpaper preview that is not the lock screen and pinch the image so it shrinks in the screen - this will get the "Cancel/Set" buttons out of the image. If you let go of the pinch, it'll bounce back, so the trick is to pinch and screen grab at the same time. Then you can crop out the wallpaper setting details in newly captured image in Photos. I was able to do this with four fingers on two hands (no feet required :)) on an iPhone 4s, not sure how dexterous you need to be on an iPhone 6 or 6 plus.

  • Very tricky. I like it.
    – hairboat
    Jul 10, 2015 at 22:22
  • Additional, you may take multiple and Photoshop the uncovered area from one to the covered area of the other. and visa versa. For the screenshot, it may help to have another person press the buttons while you pinch.
    – yesennes
    May 20, 2016 at 3:20
  • You don't need the hands of octopus. You just need to turn on Accessibility settings, turn on floating button, add screenshot button to the floating button. Then you can pinch the image so it shrink. Using other hand, tap on the floating button, select screenshot, and voila! May 31, 2019 at 3:10

If your home screen wallpaper happens to be the same as your lock screen wallpaper then it is possible to extract the image with a screen grab.

With iOS 7 installed on my iPhone 5 and while viewing my lock screen I plugged a power cable into my phone. For a split second all the text overlays disappeared from my lock screen then a battery power status icon appeared. If you are quick you can take a screen grab of the clean wallpaper.

I had spent a couple hours trying to figure out how to recover my lock screen image since the pic had been deleted from my camera roll long ago. Just as I was giving up and was laying down to bed, I plugged my phone into it's charging cable. That's when I noticed the clear image. It was a life saver. I hope this helps.

Important to note
Before doing this, go to Settings->Wallpaper and make sure "Perspective Zoom" is turned off. Otherwise when setting this newly captured image as a wallpaper it is automatically scaled up so you will lose some information around the edges.


Just did on a PC successfully. Do a backup of the iPhone. (don't encrypt it!)

the backup goes to: %Appdata%\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\79e16f33a9886b760edc45268168255ee431973c (that random string of numbers is different for every backup. look at the folder modified date to find the right one) (Press Winkey + R, type in %Appdata% to launch the folder)

Open a Command Prompt Window (Winkey + R, type in 'CMD')

type in:

cd C:\Users\'yourusernamehere'\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\'yourcrazynumberstringhere'

type in:

ren *.* *.jpg

(this changes all the files extensions to JPG's)

You can then sift through them and find the picture. Sorting the folder by file size will help narrow it down.

  • Didn't work for me. For as long as I can remember that backup folder is filled with nothing but subfolders and REN isn't recursive that I'm aware of. So you'll have to drag every file out of the subfolders. Easy enough to search for . then move. Then rename everything. I had over 30,000 files so no way I'm going to search all that. I took a screen cap of my wallpaper then used a program called Duplicate Cleaner Pro. It found my screen cap and a horribly compressed version of my wallpaper. Never found the original source. I'm guessing system files are NOT in the backup. Nov 6, 2020 at 19:20

To screen grab purist version of home screen: scroll left to the widgets page/screen. Edit to have no widgets present. You will be left with the time and date that you cannot get rid of, as well as the "edit" button, and the search bar at the top. Place phone on flat surface, touch and slide the time/date and edit buttons upward and out of view. Hold them out of view and the execute the screen grab. The only thing stuck on the pic is the search bar and the voice command button to the right of the search bar.


Easy( if lock screen wallpaper) just go to settings wallpaper the selet the lock screen one and pinch the wallpaper with fingers and bring it in the middle may take a few tries and thats when you screenshot. Crop later.


I would Imagine, if you jailbreak, you can find where the file is stored on the iPhone's file-system.

This would involve jailbreaking, and then installing a package like Samba. All you would have to do then is mount the iPhone from your desktop, and find the image.

Alternatively, there are a number of pieces of software that allow you to browse the iPhone filesystem over USB, again assuming the iPhone is jailbroken (DiskAid is an example).

Last, there are local file managers for the iPhone, that would possible allow you to find the file and copy it directly on the iPhone.

However, I do not think there is really any way to do this without jailbreaking.


As you have set a photo as wallpaper the photo should still be listed under photos on your iPhone. You can email that photo yourself.

  • 5
    That is actually not true, since I have synced and removed photos since I set the wallpaper.
    – Nicole
    Jan 15, 2012 at 22:18
  • Sorry, I did not think that a photo can be deleted as long as it is in use.
    – Martin
    Jan 16, 2012 at 12:39

I have the same issue. Best thing I found was to take a screen shot (press the Home and Sleep buttons simultaneously. The screen will flash white, a camera shutter "click" will sound, and the picture will be saved to the Camera Roll folder in your Photos). Not ideal as you have the date header and footer but at least you get to keep the original shot. Hope this helps?


Tap and hold an app to make all your apps shake (how you delete apps), move all 4 of your apps on the bottom bar (the one that is at the bottom of every app page) to a page with other apps on it so it is blank. Slide over to a completely blank page (you can do this while app delete is activated), then take your screen shot. You will only have a small grey bar across the bottom of your image. If the image you want is on your lock screen instead of your home screen this will not help you.


Go to wallpaper preview, turn perspective zoom off, and take a screenshot, then save with perspective zoom off


Turn wiggle mode on, go to a new page and take a screenshot


Double click, remove all apps from recently used, take another screenshot, then edit the 2 photos together, and if done properly, you'll be able to salvage a new version of the background in it's entirety.

This should work for me, hopefully it will work for others, I'm not sure if it will work if the photo was greatly zoomed in initially


Always upload your pictures to Google Photos. I found my wallpaper photo from 5 years ago of my daughters by searching on my Google Photos list by my daughter's name. Google photos will index all your photos. Just assign a name to a person in one of your photos, and Google will find all matching photos and assign that name to them. Even group photos will be found under multiple names.


I just took screen shot (simultaneously press wake/on and home buttons) of wallpaper photo on old iphone 5. I will crop out the bottom homepage icons. Before taking screen shot, to get a clear wallpaper photo without icons, I moved all icons off the last page of homepage except one icon which I transferred to bottom icon bar. When I initially moved all the icons off last homepage, the last page disappeared so I moved last icon to bottom icon bar in order to get clear wallpaper photo for screen shot.


Just take a screenshot of all the default screenshot choices in settings where you change wallpapers. Then take the saved image and zoom up on the one you like and crop it. It's indistinguishable from the full-size image.

  1. Backup your device (e.g. use iMazing, iTunes or idevicebackup2).
  2. Browse the backup and go to folder HomeDomain/Library/SpringBoard/. There you should find HomeBackground.cpbitmap, OriginalHomeBackground.cpbitmap, LockBackground.cpbitmap and OriginalLockBackground.cpbitmap.
  3. Use https://cpbitmap.github.io/ to convert the cpbitmap files to PNG.

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