How to set your macOS screensaver to show a Photos album

The screensaver can rotate through an album of your photos, but only while you’re logged in.

imac sunset
Apple (iMac); Pixabay (Sierra sunset)

When your Mac isn’t being used, you can turn its screen into a digital picture frame by using a screensaver that shows photos. If you store photos in Apple’s Photos app, setting up the photo screensaver is very straightforward.

Here’s how to set your Mac to use your Photos Library as a screensaver.

1. Open System Preferences and click Desktop & Screen Saver.

2. Select any of the photo-based screen savers in the scroll list at left. The ones that let you select images all show a ladybird beetle.

macos mojave screensaver photo 01 IDG

3. Click the Source drop-down menu and choose Photo Library. (If you don’t have any images in Photos, the Photo Library option will not appear.)

macos mojave screensaver photo 02 IDG

4. It may take a moment if you have a lot of images, but the media list at left will populate with all your Moments, Collections, Albums, and more. (You’ll also see an entry for iPhoto if that’s still installed.)

macos mojave screensaver photo 03 IDG

5. Select any item or category.

6. Click Choose.

You can click Preview to see how the screensaver will work when activated, too.

MacOS also has a screensaver that appears when the login screen is idle. However, there’s no graphical user interface to update it unless your Mac is in a workgroup. Apple has instructions on a support page it no longer maintains that explains the Terminal commands necessary to set a screensaver.

You can’t use photo-based ones, however, because without being logged in, the Photos library and other photo sources are unavailable. You can pick among several screensavers located in /System/Library/Screen Savers, such as Arabesque and Flurry by following the instructions in that support document.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Shannon.

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