iOS & Mac how-tos

How to stop custom wallpapers ‘zooming in’ in iOS 7

The new parallax scrolling in iOS 7 has the side effect of slightly ‘zooming in’ on custom wallpapers, and boy do some people have a problem with that! Well, here’s how to turn it off.

UPDATE: If you’re having problems adjusting to iOS 7 check out my updated post – ‘How to ‘fix’ iOS 7′, which includes the following wallpaper zooming tip and many others including clearer text, swipe-to-delete and battery issues.

ORIGINAL POST: So iOS 7 is out, and boy oh boy is it ruining some people’s lives. Bit melodramatic perhaps, but you should see the whining about it on Twitter…

Personally I really like it – sure, there’s a couple of icons that don’t make sense (Game Center) or look clunky (Newsstand) and occasionally small system text lacks legibility (which is fixable with a setting tweak) but overall I think the clean layer-based system is just lovely and a great basis for the future.

However, it’s also fair to say a lot of things have changed just enough to leave casual users a little lost or confused and one of the biggest gripes seems to be that custom photos are being zoomed in when selected as wallpapers.

I thought I’d do my Community Help bit for the day and post some solutions to wallpaper-zooming right here. There are two issues to deal with: parallax scrolling, and none-native aspect ratio images (not the same shape as your screen). It’s very easy to fix: read on!

Solution One – parallax scrolling

The first solution deals with the slight zoom caused by the parallax effect. This is when you tilt your phone and the wallpaper and icons shift to give the impression they’re on different layers. The wallpaper needs to be zoomed a bit to create a margin offscreen so that when it moves you don’t see off the edge.

Here’s how to disable it:

  1. Open Settings from your Home screen
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Accessibility
  4. Scroll down and tap ‘Reduce Motion: Off’
  5. Activate the ‘Reduce Motion’ feature by tapping the switch so it turns green.

Parallax scrolling is now disabled and wallpapers should not be zoomed for it. However, you may still have wallpaper zoom issues, in which case:

Solution Two – zoom to fit

If the shape of your photo does not match the shape of your screen then it will be zoomed to fit so that there is no black space around the sides. For example, if you’re using a square Instagram shot or a 4×3 photo on the long screen of the 5, 5S or 5C you’ll be seeing a lot of zoom.

There’s an easy workaround: just use a screenshot!

  1. Open the photo you want to use in the Photos app
  2. Tap the screen to make sure you’re seeing just the photo and none of the on-screen controls
  3. Take a screenshot by holding the Sleep and Home buttons at the same time – the screen will flash and the resulting screenshot will be saved to your Camera Roll.
  4. Select the new screenshot as a wallpaper.

Hope this helps! Remember folks: it’s just a phone… 😉

By myglasseye

I'm a Glasgow-born stills photographer and camera operator living and working in London, UK. As well as cameras I'm into writing, gaming, general geekery and beers by Brew Dog.

10 replies on “How to stop custom wallpapers ‘zooming in’ in iOS 7”

The screenshot solution doesn’t work on iPhone 5… The screenshot still ‘zooms in’ a bit when setting it as wallpaper; I can pinch it to expose more of the screenshot and it just zooms straight back in after I let go.

I figured out its because the parallax effect needs to use some of the image for ‘room to move’ =(

Hi Dylan. In the article above I post two solutions:

1) turn off the parallax effect.

Then if that doesn’t work, and you’re using non-native aspect ratios for your wallpapers:

2) use a screenshot.

Looks like you skipped 1) and started with 2), then figured 1) out for yourself. If only you’d followed tradition and started with 1) then progressed to 2)! 😉

Glad you sorted it though!

Reducing motion doesn’t actually stop zooming entirely; it just makes the zoom less intense. But it still happens (at least on the iPad).

It should be mentioned that the screenshot needs to be taken when you can see the white border (ie. when the image is SMALLER than it should be). On the iPhone you should screencap while in landscape mode, and in portrait orientation on the iPad.

Yeah I’ve noticed it’s not so helpful on the iPad. Ah well, never mind.

Afraid I don’t understand your screenshot-in-landscape tip. The point is to take the screenshot while it fills the iPhone screen – portrait mode, not landscape mode, no? If you take it when it’s smaller than it should be, you’d need to zoom it in to fill the screen, and as we all know, you can’t manually zoom images. In my case at least, this only worked when I took the screenshot full screen.

Oh, for some reason I’d glossed over the part where you mentioned non-standard size wallpaper.

The idea behind including the white bars for screenshots is to counter the force zooming of the parallax. This advice helps for the iPad, but I have no clue about the phones.

One of the most annoying things users report about iOS 7 is the way it handles the placement and positioning of wallpapers. No matter how hard you try to pinch and drag your picture, which you were able to do in iOS 6 (the way you were able to do in iOS 6), iOS 7 zooms back out and creates often dissatisfying backgrounds.
When I switched to iOS 7 I could not longer use my favorite pictures as my wallpaper. I was very disapointed about that and decided to create a little app to fix my problem. I saw that this is a problem many users are running into, so I chose to make my little helper called Wallpaper Fix  public.
Wallpaper Fix lets you freely resize, rotate and position your picture in order to use it as your custom iOS 7 wallpaper..
iOS 7 needs wallpapers to be of specific dimensions in order to work properly with the parallax effect, just position your picture the way you want it and Wallpaper fix does the rest automatically for you.


Let me know what you think, and please help me spread the word.

best regards

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