If you have yet to jump on the TikTok train, maybe this will convince you: you can use one of the platform’s millions of videos as a live wallpaper for your phone’s home and lock screens. That means that instead of a motionless image, you’ll have a video running behind all your app icons.
If you’ve recently upgraded to Android 12, you’ll find this among the system’s wallpaper options. If you’re an iPhone user, the process is not as intuitive, but it’s even simpler.
Keep in mind that not all videos on the platform can become live wallpapers—their availability will depend on whether the creator allows other users to download them. Also, having a video playing in the background will drain your battery much faster than a photo, so remember that when you have to plug in your device before the end of the day.
Still, worth it.
How to set a TikTok video as a live wallpaper on an Android phone
Setting a TikTok video as a live wallpaper on an Android phone is easy but requires a lot of steps. Just open TikTok, find a video you like, tap the three dots on the right side of the screen, and hit the Set as wallpaper option. The app will then prompt you to download the wallpaper plugin from Google Play.
Open the plugin app and tap on Open TikTok to set wallpaper. When you do, a full-screen preview of the video will play, and if it looks good to you, you can tap Set as wallpaper, followed by Set wallpaper at the bottom of your screen. Android will then ask you to choose whether you want to set the video as your home screen background, or if you also want it on your lock screen.
This last setting is important. Your phone will remember your pick and use it every time you choose a new live wallpaper. If you want to change it, you won’t be able to do so easily: you’ll need to go to Wallpaper & style (long press on an empty space on your home screen), set an image as your background, and then open the TikTok app to repeat the live wallpaper process. Another limitation is that you can’t have a live wallpaper only on your lock screen—it’s either your home screen alone or both.
Your live wallpapers will be saved in a gallery inside the TikTok plugin. To open it, tap the icon, then Open TikTok to set wallpaper. From there, you can also adjust the background’s settings: tap the cog icon in the upper right corner of your screen and use the slider to change the volume, or tap the toggle switch next to Double-tap to pause video to gain the ability to do just that. To delete a file, open the plugin, tap the three dots in the upper right corner and choose Delete.
You can also access your live wallpaper gallery through the Android 12 interface. Just long press on any empty space on your home screen, choose Wallpaper & style, and then go to Change wallpaper. There, scroll down to find the videos under the TikTok logo. You can’t change the wallpaper settings here, and you’ll notice the app’s integration with Google’s latest operating system update is not seamless, as you won’t be able to see a preview of a video until you tap on it. Before you do that, you’re stuck with TikTok icons that give you absolutely no clue to which file is which.
How to set a TikTok video as your lock screen on an iPhone
On iPhones, there’s no TikTok-based path that makes it easy to set videos as a wallpaper. Still, because you have fewer options, the process might be even simpler than it is on Android.
When you find the video you want on TikTok, tap the Share button (the curved arrow) and select Live photo. This is basically the iOS version of a live wallpaper, but because it’s considered an image, the operating system will automatically save it to a new folder (conveniently called Live photos) within the Photos app.
To set it as a background, follow the same path you would use with a regular picture: go to Settings, Wallpaper, and Choose a wallpaper. There, scroll to the right folder, select the file you want, tap Set, and select where you want to use it.
There are two caveats when it comes to live photos on iOS. The first is that they only animate as lock screen backgrounds. If you choose to set a video for both home and lock screens, you’ll be stuck with the first frame as your home screen background. If you try to start it up with a long press on your home screen, your iPhone will think you’re trying to edit your apps. The second drawback is that unlike Android, the live wallpaper will not play automatically on your lock screen—you’ll have to press and hold for playback to begin.
Still, having a live wallpaper is a great idea if you want something fun to look at whenever you check your notifications or simply want to blow the uninitiated minds of those who have only ever seen static backgrounds.