I have performed an upgrade to the latest Snow Leopard and now to Mountain Lion (10.8.1). Post upgrade my desktop background isn't no longer changing. The background will not change when I try and select a different background via system preferences. Even if I reset it to the default background the same behavior persists. My system has exhibited this problem for almost 7 months now, I have this ugly plain blue background I cannot look at any more. Can anyone offer a solution that might resolve this?

  • This won't fix the problem, but try this to see if it works. Save a picture to your desktop and then either two-finger tap it or right-click it (whichever fits your input mechanism) and select "Set Desktop Picture" to see if that will at least give you a new image to look at.
    – Zrb0529
    Aug 27, 2012 at 23:18
  • Also try to use Repair disk permissions on your boot hard drive using Disk Utility. Aug 16, 2013 at 14:54

6 Answers 6


Try deleting /Users/username/Library/Preferences/com.apple.desktop.plist

Then, empty your trash and reboot. This file stores the preferences for desktop wallpaper and deleting it will give you a clean slate. Your system should default to the standard Mountain Lion wallpaper.


Open Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and paste this command

rm ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Desktop.plist

press 'return' on the keyboard.

Log out, log back in again. Change the wallpaper to what you want. Log out, log back in once more to test.

Any improvement?

  • This may well solve the issue the poster is having - but can you write a bit about the solution you suggest?
    – Scot
    Aug 16, 2013 at 16:22

My steps (on El Capitan 10.11.2):

  • Deleted com.apple.desktop.plist- problem persisted
  • Replaced /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg (req. disabling System Integrity Protection here) - problem persisted
  • Repaired permission for /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg as detailed here - problem SOLVED (can choose new desktop image via Sys Pref. as normal)

Note that you have to delete the com.apple.desktop.plist file as another user. Otherwise, the original settings will be restored from cache.


By any chance have you performed a repair permissions using disk utility lately? Perhaps there is a problem with the OS accessing the files it needs.


The easiest fix for this is to just go into your desktop and screen saver settings, under the system preferences tab, and click on the "change picture" button. Then it should allow you to set the background to what you want again.

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