Animating the Desktop

Reader Mark Feil would like a more active Desktop. He writes:

Our Genius Bar at the local Apple Store pointed me toward a piece of shareware that allows me to use a QuickTime movie as a screen saver. Unfortunately, I don’t remember its name. However, I wondered if there’s any way one can use a QuickTime movie as a Desktop background so there’s always a movie playing beneath all the icons and applications. Can you help?

Sure. Download a copy of MonkeyBread Software’s free Desktop Movie Player X. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can just drag a movie of your choosing on top of its application icon (or launch it and choose File -> Open Movie File) and the movie will play as your Desktop background. Choose Movie -> Loop and the movie will repeat until you quit the application. You can also play a folder full of movies by either dragging a folder on top of the application icon or choosing File -> Open Folder. (You can easily have Desktop Movie Player X play the contents of your Movies folder by choosing File -> Open Movie Folder.)

This is pretty slick, but perhaps you’d like something that's both slick and relaxing. You’ll find that in Amuse Inc’s $35 My Living Desktop. My Living Desktop not only allows you to import your own movies for display on the Desktop but also comes with over three dozen high-definition, animated scenes from beautiful locations around the world. If you like, you can set up a schedule so that these serene scenes kick in at certain intervals (every hour, for example) or at particular times of the day. You can have My Living Desktop play just one scene or ask that it cycle through the different scenes at an interval of your choosing.

One other option is to forgo your own movies and use the Mac's built-in screen saver as an animated Desktop background instead. To do that download and run a copy of Nil Thacker’s free Wallsaver or open Terminal and enter:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &

To stop the animated screen saver, return to Terminal and enter:

killall ScreenSaverEngine
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