Apple Watch showing Fireworks GIF as wallpaper
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

A wallpaper is a great way to spruce up your Apple Watch. But what’s better than a still image? How about your favorite GIF that comes alive every time you lift your wrist?

If you’re a regular Apple Watch user, you might be aware of the Photos watch face, which allows you to cycle between up to 24 photos. And if you use a Live Photo, it actually animates every time you use your Apple Watch.

Combine this with the fact that you can convert any GIF into a Live Photo, and you’ve now got an amazing selection of media to use as your Apple Watch wallpaper. And yes, you can do this for your iPhone wallpaper as well.

RELATED: How to Set a GIF as a Live Wallpaper on Your iPhone

The process is quite simple. Use an app like GIPHY to search for a GIF, convert it to a Live Photo, and then use the Watch app to add that photo to your watch face. Here’s how it works.

First, download and open the GIPHY app. Next, tap on the “Search” bar to search for a GIF. You can also explore GIFs based on categories, hashtags, and trending searches.

Tap to search for a GIF on GIPHY

When you find a GIF that you like, tap on it to view it.

Select a GIF from the list

Here, tap on the “Menu” button.

tap on the three dots (the menu button)

Now tap on the “Convert to Live Photo” option.

Tap on Convert to Live Photo

The app will ask you if you want to save the GIF in a full-screen format or if you want it to fit to the screen (of your iPhone). If the GIF is in widescreen format, choose the “Fit to Screen” option. It would be best if you find a GIF that’s in square format. You can also crop the Live Photo in a step below.

Tap on fit to Screen

Now the Live Photo will be saved to your Camera Roll. We’ll need to get it ready for the Apple Watch.

Open the Live Photo and tap on the “Edit” button.

Tap on Edit button in Photos app

First, you might want to switch to the “Crop” option to resize the GIF to be a perfect square.

Tap on the Crop button

When you’re in the crop view, tap on the “Aspect Ratio” button from the top toolbar (in iOS 13 and above).

Select the Aspect Ratio option

Then choose the “Square” option from below.

Switch to Square ratio and then crop the Live Photo

Next, tap on the “Live” button from the bottom toolbar.

Tap on the Live button to edit the Live Photo

Tap on the last frame and then select “Make Key Photo.” This ensures that, once the animation is over, the wallpaper becomes the last frame instead of jumping to a frame in the middle of the GIF.

Tap on Make Key Photo

Now, you should trim down the Live Photo to around one second of footage. If you use a GIF without editing the length, it might not work. Only Live Photos less than 42 frames work as animated wallpapers on the Apple Watch.

Grab the two handles and reduce the Live Photo length by about half. After, tap on the “Done” button to save the Live Photo. Now we’re ready to move on to the next step.

Trim the Live Photo and then tap on Done

Open the Watch app and go to the “Face Gallery” section.

Switch to the Face Gallery tab

Here, swipe down until you see the “Photos” watch face. Tap on it.

Select the Photos face

From this screen, go to the “Content” section and tap on “Photos.” This will allow you to choose a specific photo (or photos) for the watch face.

Tap on Photos from the Content section

From the photo picker, select the Live Photo we just edited and then tap on the “Done” button.

Select the photos and tap on Done

Now from the watch face page, tap on the “Add” button.

Tap on Add button

The new Photos watch face will be added at the end of the watch faces list on your Apple Watch. Just lift up your wrist, and you should now see the GIF animation as your Apple Watch comes alive.

If you’re seeing only a static image or a black screen, this means your GIF is still too long. Go back to the editing screen and trim down the GIF. After you do that, it should work fine.

RELATED: What Is a GIF, and How Do You Use Them?

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Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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