Apple made some significant updates to the default Safari web browser for the iPhone in iOS 15, including tab groups and a movable address bar. But one of the most interesting updates is the ability to set a custom background for new browser tabs. Not only does it add a much-needed visual update, but it’s easy to configure, and you can change it as often as you like.
The all-new browser aims to make it easier to use with one hand and offers more customizability. As for setting a custom iPhone Safari background, it’s a quick and easy change, and you can use any of your own images or the newly included background wallpapers from Apple.
When you open Safari on the iPhone, the start page has a simple white background. In dark mode, it turns black. And that’s about it. However, with iOS 15 you can choose a colorful wallpaper as the Safari background picture instead.
If you want something personal, you can even use a picture from your iPhone Photos app as the Safari start page background.
Now let’s get to it, and follow along on setting a custom iPhone Safari background on your iPhone/iPad.
How to Add a Custom Background to Safari on iPhone
These steps show you how to personalize the background of the Safari screen. If you want to use a custom image, make sure you have it saved in the Photos app and not elsewhere, like the Files app, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
You’ll need to configure your Safari browser settings to add a custom background. The good part is, that this is a fairly simple process, and the steps should work the same for iPhone and iPad users.
You will need to make sure you’re running version 15 or later of iOS or iPadOS to do this.
To add a custom background in Safari on mobile:
- Launch Safari on your iPhone.
- Open a new page by tapping the double square icon in the bottom-right corner.
- You’ll see thumbnails of the pages currently open in Safari—tap the plus (+) icon in the lower left to open a new tab.
- In the Customize Start Page menu, scroll down to the bottom and tap the Edit button.
- At the bottom, you’ll see the Background Image section—toggle the slider to activate it.
- To add a background, select one of the preset Apple backgrounds, or tap the plus (+) icon to add your own.
- If you decided to add your own photo, you’d be taken to the Photos app—select a photo on your device to apply it as your new Safari background.
How to Add a Custom Background to Safari on an iPad
- Launch the Safari browser on your iPad.
- Go to Start Page or Open a New Tab in the browser.
- Scroll to the bottom and tap on the Edit button.
- It shall open the Customize Start Page screen.
- Enable the Background Image toggle if turned off.
- Select the desired background image from the available.
- Tap the large plus (+) button to browse your photo gallery, and select your own preference.
- That’s it; the image will now act as the new background for your Safari on iPad.
- You can always revert to a preset image in the list or turn off the background image from the Customize Start page.
To customize Safari on iPad:
- Launch Safari on your iPad.
- Make sure you’re in a new tab, so you can be on the start page.
- Scroll down to the bottom and tap Edit.
- Tap the toggle for Background Image to ON (green).
- Select one of the preset images by tapping on it.
- If you prefer to use your own, tap the large plus (+) button.
Use the images in the previous section for guidance, the steps are more similar to the iPhone, maybe with a slight variation.
Viewing a Custom Safari Background
If you choose an Apple background image to display as your background image in Safari, return to the main Safari screen to see the results.
An example of a preset Apple background applied to Safari is visible in the screenshot below.
If you add your own photo, it’ll appear alongside the preset Apple backgrounds in the Customize Stage Page > Background Image section. An example of a custom image (a tree) as a Safari background appears below.
If you want to change the background image at any point, follow the steps above to switch to another image. Alternatively, tap the Background Image slider to disable it entirely.
Adding Personalization to Safari
While adding a background to Safari on your iPhone or iPad isn’t the most significant change in the browser world, it’s enough to add some personalization to your web browsing experience. It’s a subtle change, but a welcome one for the popular mobile browser.
Syncing Your Safari Start Page Across iPhone/iPad
With “Use Start Page on All Devices” toggled on, Safari will synchronize all your start page settings — including the background image — across your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Just make sure you:
- Are signed in with the same Apple ID.
- Are running the latest software (the iOS 15 or later, iPadOS 15 or later).
- Make sure the two-factor authentication is turned on for iCloud.
- Have the Safari toggled on in your iCloud settings.
Choosing a Good Safari Start Page Background
Only specific types of images look best on your iPhone. If you want to synchronize your start page background image across your devices — like your iPad or Mac — opt for a landscape-oriented rectangular one. Safari on iOS will display the middle third of the picture. Also, when syncing your background image, use a high-quality image, so it can display well on your other devices.
Disabling Your Safari Start Page Background
To disable the background image and return to the default dark gray background, go back to the “Background Image” section in your start page settings. From there, tap on the X in the corner of the custom or Apple-created wallpaper.
Automating Your Safari Start Page Background
At this time, you cannot automate your background with the stock Shortcuts app. However, you can install third-party Safari extensions that give you a completely new start page. While they don’t modify Apple’s default start page, opening a new tab will send you directly to the extension’s custom start page with its own custom settings.
Some popular examples include:
- Mindful Tab
- Sky Light
One of the notable changes with iOS 15 is a totally redesigned Safari. If you’re running iOS/iPadOS 15 or later, you can now personalize Safari’s background to your tastes.
This won’t have an impact on the pages you load, but it will allow you to see the background in new tabs before you load a page. You can add your own photos or use custom images as your Safari background, but make sure the images are the right size—otherwise, they might appear stretched.
Changing your default Safari background on iPhone or iPad is pretty easy courtesy of the wide variety of custom backgrounds you can choose from.
The default background image for the Safari browser on your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS devices can quickly become tedious. It’s true! The default setting is for a white background, but if you would like to change it to something else, it is just very easy to do it.
Both iPhone and iPad devices support different customizations to change the device’s overall appearance, and this is one such customization, is the making of the Safari browser look different from other apps on your device.
This helps you differentiate between apps with exactly the same purpose. So, if you are one of those people who like to place stickers on their iPad or iPhone, then you might be interested in getting the background image of your choice.
Now, you know how to change the plain white or black Safari background to something colorful, fun, and personal. If you ever want to go back to minimalist design, just turn off the toggle for the Background Image.