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How to Set Up and Change Screen Savers in OS X



Screen Savers were first created to prevent screen burn on older monitors by keeping the pixels in those monitors moving. But nowadays they are a fun way for computers to show off picture feeds, words of the day, and other bits of information. In this quick tip, I will show you how to set up and manage screen savers in OS X.

The Setup

Launch System Preferences and click on Desktop & Screen Saver. The top 14 screen saver options are various ways to display a picture feed. The remaining seven are completely different visual effects that don't require any pictures.

Choosing your screen saver and the picture feed if needed
Choosing your screen saver and the picture feed, if needed

If you choose one of the screen savers that require pictures, use the Source drop down to choose the folder the pictures will pull from. You may choose anything from a default collection, like National Geographic, to your own iPhoto library.

Use the Start after drop down to choose the length of time the computers must sit idle before the screen saver turns on.

You may also use the Hot Corners menu to choose a hot corner on your monitor. When you move your mouse cursor to that corner, the screen saver will instantly turn on. Choose your favorite Hot Corner and add Start Screen Saver to that corner.

Using Hot Corners to turn on your screensaver
Using Hot Corners to turn on your screensaver

A Bit of Security

Now that the hot corners are set, you can combine it with a simple password requirement. Whenever the Mac comes out of screen saver mode you can make it require the user password. This is a great way to protect your Mac from prying eyes or jokester coworkers while you are away.

Go back to System Preferences and choose Security and Privacy. From the General tab check the box that enables Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. Also make sure immediately is chosen from the drop down within that sentence.

Going forward, anytime you are about to step away from your Mac, move the cursor into your chosen hot corner. This will activate the screen saver. If someone were to access the Mac while you are away, the screen saver will turn off and they will be immediately prompted for the user password. 

Your Mac is now a bit more secure.


Screen savers may not serve the purpose they once did, but they are still a beautiful way to have your Mac doing something while not in use. 

Combine that with a simple trick to password protect your Mac, and there is literally no doubt about the value in setting up your screen saver in OS X. Enjoy!

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