We’re staring at our screens more than ever these days. Between virtual work, doomscrolling the news, Zooming with friends and staying connected on social media, we spend a lot of time looking at our phones and computers.
And if we’ve got to be looking at them, we might as well enjoy what we’re seeing.
Enter, cool wallpaper. Personalizing phones and laptops with fun backgrounds can make the screen time a little less daunting (or at the very least, give you a boost of happiness when you turn it on). And did you know that what you choose as your background can even help with productivity and creativity? Media psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge her best tips for finding the best wallpaper in TMRW’s ultimate guide to decking out your phone or computer.
Laptop wallpapers to help you stay more productive at work
The first thing to consider when choosing a computer wallpaper is how many folders you have on your desktop. “Pick a wallpaper that provides good contrast to your folders and labels,” Rutledge said. “The more folders you keep on your desktop, the more uniform the image should be.”
She also suggests playing around with the colors and images to see which ones are the most pleasing and enhance usability. “Bad usability means you start any task with a little frustration already built in,” she explained.
And if you really need some organization, Rutledge also suggested using wallpapers like these that have visible areas marked out for types of folders and files.
Color can also affect your mood and therefore your creativity and productivity, she added. If you want to feel calmer and less stressed, for example, go with blue. Red is a good color for demanding jobs. Orange can give you more energy, focus and concentration (but if it’s too bright, it can just be distracting, Rutledge warned). Yellow is great for entrepreneurs because it triggers creativity and innovation. And green can give you balance and harmony, which is good if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
“Solid colors aren’t necessary,” she said. “Monochromatic images, green forests, blue hills and sky, and a field of yellow flowers all achieve the same effect.”
Cute phone wallpapers to make you feel happy
Want to smile every time you turn on your phone? Rutledge says your choice of image can contribute to your happiness.
Her advice? “Pick your cat or dog, your child as a baby, you as a baby or something that you can feel that really brings you joy, like flowers, sunsets or a steaming cup of coffee,” she said. “Best is something that delivers both a physical and emotional sensation, gives you a momentary pause and makes you want to go ‘awwww' or 'ahhhhh.’”
Another good tip for phone wallpaper choices: Use the photo as your lock screen wallpaper, and go with something simple and clean for the image behind all of your apps — otherwise it might be hard to find what you’re looking for (and you won't really be able to see the image that well anyway).
And feel free to experiment with brighter colors on your phone. “What might be overwhelming on a large monitor might be fun and energizing on a phone,” Rutledge said.
Funny laptop wallpapers to put a smile on your face
Want to have a little chuckle at your desk? Funny wallpapers can make that happen. “Jokes are fine, but what’s funny once is not likely to do the same thing again,” Rutledge said. Instead, you might consider displaying a picture of a funny event you care about so that you are reliving the experience and not repeating a punchline, she suggested.
“When an image triggers a memory, we are more likely to have it activate all the sensory memory associated with it,” she explained. “By revisiting, we are savoring the experience. It becomes more meaningful — eudaimonic happiness rather than the fleeting hedonic happiness of laughing to a joke — and increases our appreciation and enjoyment of it.”
Phone and laptop wallpapers to keep you motivated
Whether you want to stay motivated at work, achieve a goal or just want a boost of inspiration each time you look at your screen, there are wallpapers that can help you do that.
You can find many inspirational quote wallpapers to download, and they can certainly inspire, but Rutledge has one tip to make them really hit home: You actually have to read the quote to be inspired. “If you find affirmations as a fixed wallpaper helpful, set a reminder to reread it on a regular basis, otherwise your brain will just turn it into a pattern,” she said.
Images speak to the brain more directly, she added, so you might want to pick an image that you associate with inspirational meaning or your future goals (i.e, a picture of someone you aspire to be like or a place you want to visit one day).
“Create a gallery that rotates images, so you are not sensitized to a single message and lose impact,” Rutledge suggested.
Since everyone is different when it comes to what they want and need in a phone or laptop wallpaper Rutledge said the most important thing is to experiment and find out what works best for you. "Don’t let Apple, Android or your best friend choose for you," she said.