How to Make Proper iPad and iPad2 Wallpapers (1024 x 1024 pixels)

The iPad has a 1024 x 768 pixel screen, and so does the iPad2.

However, it can be used horizontally as well as vertically. So what happens to your wallpaper when you turn the iPad’s orientation since it reverses the vertical and horizontal dimensions? That is, it goes from 1024 pixels wide to 768 pixels wide, and 768 pixels high to 1024 pixels high.

When you turn iPad from the horizontal to vertical orientation, or vice-versa, it automatically rotates its wallpaper to match. But that’s all it does, in rotating your wallpaper. It does not resize it to fit the new dimension. Good thing, too, cause pictures of you and your friends would be rather ugly in one orientation or another… even if skinny ugly and not just fat ugly.  See Figures 1 and 2 below that shows no resizing in iPad wallpapers with rotation of orientation (please click to enlarge).

What that means is you need a square wallpaper that is 1024 pixels in each dimension. What it also means is that some parts of your wallpaper will never be seen, and some parts will only be seen. See Figure 3 for visual of descriptions below.

A square of 128 x 128 pixels in each corner will never be seen (black areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A strip 128 pixels high and 768 pixels wide at the top and bottom center will only be seen in the vertical orientation (red areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A strip 768 pixels high and 128 pixels wide at the left and right center will only be seen in the horizontal orientation (green areas).

Do not put anything important here if you want your wallpaper to look nice in both orientations of usage.

A square 768 pixels on each side, appearing at the center of the image, will always be seen (white area).

Make sure everything critical to your image is in this area.

So how do you make sure you have something that works?

Well, it’d be a real pain to have to measure out everything all the time. The easiest sure way I can think of is to take the image in Figure 3 to place over your image and make it half see-through (or 50% opacity), so see if anything important in your image is in the covered area.

That’s still a pain, though, I know. “Eyeballing” the “covered patches” in Figure 3 is the only quick way of doing things. It’s not perfect, but it could be effective. You’re basically looking at cutting out 1/8 of your picture from each side (for the covered areas).

The easiest, but not necessarily fail safe, way to do it is to find your favourite 1280 x 1024 wallpapers and crop out a square the height of the full picture. Hold down the Shift key when you crop usually gives you a square. Then stretch it to the full height of the picture. Then move your square around so the 1/8 strips around the edges don’t seem to take up any important parts of your picture. Then crop and there you have it! The nicest thing about this method is that the 1280 x 1024 monitors are very popular and there are tens, of not hundreds, of millions of wallpapers already existing for them from which you can turn into iPad wallpapers.

I “eyeballed” things to create the wallpaper in Figure 4 (which is an image from the movie Avatar), and did OK.

In case you liked my “eyeballing sample” in Figure 4, I’ve included the real wallpaper for your use in Figure 5.

If you use it, Figure 6 shows how it will appear on your iPad in the horizontal orientation.

Figure 7 shows how it will appear on your iPad in the vertical orientation.

If you have any experience with Photoshop Actions (and have Photoshop at your disposal), you can always record an Action where you place the guides down. I find zooming to 400% helps accurately placing guides at 128 pixels in (and at 896 pixels from the far edge of 1024). Then you create another Action to remove those guides using the Clear Guides command under the View menu (in CS3). I have these set up so after I’ve cropped an image, I click on an Action to see the guides showing my cut-offs. If I am satisfied, I click on the next Action to clear them and Save. If not, I just Undo a few steps and crop again and test it again.

If you’ve got better methods, please do share! Thanks!

Please click here to see the iPad wallpapers I have created
(using Photoshop actions to verify their suitability).


Flesch-Kincaid grade reading level: 7.4

44 thoughts on “How to Make Proper iPad and iPad2 Wallpapers (1024 x 1024 pixels)

    • Thanks for that link, IMAC. That’s a nice explanation, too.

      I didn’t see the option to test the wallpaper. Still, that would be a bit of a bummer to finish something, save it, and upload it to test it, only to find out it’s not quite right. Better testing while creating.

      On another note, some of the wallpapers there have more than should be cut off.

      p.s. That’s a really colourful and cool user icon you’ve got!

  1. Thanks Digital Citizen, this is exactly what I was looking for, as we are just gearing up to publish our first wallpapers for iPad (Germany still waiting for the big launch ;-))

    Figure 3 – very helpful!

  2. Why not just use the crop tool in Photoshop, set it for 1024×1024. Crop real loose in anticipation of the dead zones. I made a template from your diagram with the pencil tool on a new layer, to drag it onto prospective images. Gunther

    • Hi Gunther. Thanks for the suggestion. It’s a good idea, but I didn’t want to leave much to chance with the “crop real loose in anticipation of the dead zones”. Problem is if you “miss”, it’s frustrating to have to undo a bunch of steps to try again. Or if you don’t check, it’s an uneasy feeling for me, at least, to put out stuff I am not sure “works”.

      I also like some of my wallpapers big and bold, if you haven’t seen the Twilight ones I have for the iPad.🙂

      Your suggestion is a good strategy for those willing to try and do things more quickly, though. Thank you for sharing!

    • Very nice indeed. Thanks for sharing! The iPad has also only arrived in Canada, a month late. Word was that Apple redirected our shipment to the US where they were having big back orders and knew they could sell them quickly. Money sure makes the world go round, doesn’t it?🙂

  3. It seems that every time I make one when I send it over to the ipad it very low res. I had the document in PS set at 350. Whats causing this?

    • Hi Joey, I’m not sure what you are doing without being there to see. However, I’ll just run through a few of these points in case you missed something.
      – The wallpaper you need is 1024×1024 pixels so you should check that first.
      – If you’re downloading something from here, please make sure it’s at the full size before you download. It might not be if you view on a small monitor where your browser might offer a small version that fits fully into the screen first.
      – I’m not sure what you mean by the 350. There’s nothing I can recall about 350 being important in the process.

      Hope that’s of some help, but I’m really trying to help while blind here, so to speak, not being able to see what you are doing to understand what you mean.

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  5. Thank you very much for teaching us how to make the proper iPad wallpaper. Some still doesn’t get the size of 1024×1024 and only based it on the iPad’s resolution which is 1024×768.

    • You’re very welcome, Pat. Glad I could help and yes, I hope more people will learn how to make iPad wallpapers correctly cause putting up stuff that doesn’t work properly, and have them found and used by others, just gets others frustrated and disappointed.

    • These should still look good on the new iPad, though, because it’s not a bigger screen. Just more pixels per inch. So these may not be as super sharp as the new wallpapers, but they should still be nice like on the iPad and iPad2.

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