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Exporting and Converting iPhone (iOS 9) Wallpaper Files

I found myself needing to export and convert iPhone (iOS 9) wallpaper files from an old iPhone, and the source photos for these files no longer exist. As with most things Apple this turned out to be a horrendous pain but I was determined not to let Apple win. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, "If I'm gonna get busted,  it is not gonna be by a company like that."

Although getting here was pretty time-consuming, the end result is simple. I did this on Windows but it should work on a Mac as well, provided you can install Pillow and run some Python.

  1. Connect the iPhone to your computer
  2. Backup the iPhone using iTunes
  3. Grab iExplorer and run it, allowing it to connect to the iPhone
  4. In the Backup Explorer, navigate to HomeDomain -> Library -> Springboard
  5. In that directory you'll see HomeBackground.cpbitmap and LockBackground.cpbitmap files, along with .jpg thumbnails of the files. Export these files from iExplorer to your computer.
  6. The .cpbitmap files are worthless (except to the iPhone) on their own, so finally you need to run a Python script to convert the .cpbitmap files to a usable image file.
I had to mess with some of the various Python scripts I found online to get it working properly (this one came closest), so if you're reading this at a future date or using a different version of iOS, I won't be surprised if it needs further tweaking.

Hope that helps others retrieve their wallpaper files!

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