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Screen savers? Yes, screen savers! While they may not serve the utilitarian purpose—saving your screen—they once did, screen savers can still be captivating and fun. I've taken a look at hundreds of screen savers over the past couple years, with the intent of doing a Mac Gems article on the topic, but the truth is, screen savers are better suited to video. So in this week's video, I show you 13 of my favorite modules. Here in the show notes, I also include a number of other good screen savers that didn't make it into the video.

If you see one you like and decide to download it, you can install it by dropping the [screen savername].saver file into either /Library/Screen Savers (to make it available to all users of your Mac) or ~/Library/Screen Savers (to keep it all to yourself).

Download Macworld Video #85

  • Format: MPEG-4/H.264
  • Resolution: 480 x 320 (iPhone & iPod compatible)
  • Size: 11.7 MB
  • Length: 6 minutes, 14 seconds

Show Notes

Below are links to the Web sites for the screen savers mentioned in the video. All screen savers work on Intel Macs; I haven't tested compatibility with PowerPC Macs.

Here are a few good screen savers that didn't make it into the video:

  • 3D Desktop Aquarium ($13): an alternative to Marine Aquarium.
  • Collage Screen Saver (donations accepted): creates a moving collage out of a folder of photos of your choosing.
  • Electric Sheep (free): difficult to describe, this module connects your computer with others on the 'net to create, in the words of the developer, "morphing abstract animations known as 'sheep.'" You can rate each creation as it's displayed, and higher-rated animations "live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience." Make sense? Even if it doesn't, Electric Sheep is worth checking out. The downside is that new "sheep offspring" are hefty downloads.
  • Flying Toasters Screen Saver (donations accepted): another option for lovers of flying toasters.
  • Helios (free): a beautiful module involving colorful blobs of matter that produce and absorb tiny particles.
  • Hills (free): a realistic flyover of computer-generated grassy hills. Tip: In the settings screen, set the slider values to 8.63, 50, 5.39, 1.31, 256, 0.011, and choose your favorite blue as the Fog Color to give the illusion of a blue sky. (Thanks to a commenter on the linked site for the inspiration for those settings.)
  • Red Baron (free): a fun screen saver that follows the Red Baron's biplane as it flies over a grassy landscape. Caveat: If you don't have a Mac Pro or the latest MacBook Pro, move along.
  • Serene Saver 2 HD ($50): includes over a dozen high-definition videos of calm, relaxing environments to help you relax during your Mac's downtime; these videos can also be used as full-motion Desktop backgrounds. The program can also be used to force work breaks, and it smartly disables itself when running off battery power. Pricey, but attractive, soothing, and—yes—useful.
  • Snowfall (free): creates complex and beautiful snowflakes that fall down your screen. You can choose either a colored background or your favorite image—it's quite odd to see it snowing over a sunny Kauai panorama.
  • SurveillanceSaver (free): displays a random feed from over 1000 Web-based surveillance cameras around the world. It's like on-demand cable, but with security cameras.

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