Lloyd's screensavers

Macintosh users may also be interested in my index to Kaleidoscope schemes.

First things... second.

The screensaver is dead. This is why. As a result, this page is not actively maintained. If you really think something needs adding or changing, you could contact me. Now macscreensavers.com is up and running, it should all be their problem, as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, they're concentrating on screensavers made with their MacSourcery software...

If you're tired of manually surfing the web for interesting pictures to look at, let the first Web screensaver I'm aware of do it for you. Or let jwz's webcollage do it better. Technology makes yet another pointless leap forward.

This material is mostly for the Macintosh, simply because I own a Mac. However, I no longer use a Mac, preferring real computers with real operating systems. So I can't tell you about Mac OS X screensavers. There are some cross-platform musical screensavers, and some pointers to Windows screensavers here, too.

A small programming-orientated screensavers archive (ftp access) is still available, with material for the Mac and for X. Speaking of...

X screensavers

Get xxlock. xscreensaver and xlockmore (with hypercubes) have cornered the market and now even Solaris has sorted out Energy Star support, screensaving under X is pretty much a solved problem.

Macintosh screensavers

I've wasted a lot of time playing with Macintosh screensavers, and my distilled wisdom on this esoteric topic is available for your perusal in my Mac screensaver FAQ. That FAQ hasn't been updated since 1994, and a small list of updates is available. to be read in conjunction with the FAQ. For other FAQs, here's a useful FAQ archive.

If you want to download hard-to-get Mac screensaver programming information, updaters, etc, this is the place to look. If you want to write a Mac screensaver that utilises Energy Star, Technote 1086: Power Management & The Energy Saver API is the place to start.

I've found a number of places on the web related to Mac screensavers, so here's an alphabetical list of them.

Inclusion here does not constitute an endorsement - as far as I'm concerned these days, you get Sleeper or play with Underware or Darkside of the Mac. Nevertheless, here's that information, grouped in alphabetical order according to saver name.

After Dark
Berkeley Systems produced the After Dark packages, and their site had lots of support information for you. It appears that Berkeley Systems is pretty much dead, having been bought by CUC, who also own Sierra. Here's a lament of the history of it all. Search Sierra's Customer Help for After Dark, or try Begany's After Dark pages.

It appears that Infinisys' After Dark X revives After Dark for OS X. No word on module compatibility.

After Dark Online 2.0 included internet-enabled screensavers pulling in pseudo-multicast news. Ugh - and, like Pointcast and other push technologies, it failed. Still, After Dark was free to download while it lasted.

Since After Dark 3.0 and later include the Monitor Energy Saver code licensed from Apple, After Dark can be tolerated as a screensaver. The whole point of After Dark is the many modules you can run, both included and third-party. It set a standard, and many screensavers are compatible with it; you can download Darkside of the Mac or Underware to play third-party After Dark modules. Here's a small After Dark archive. As After Dark is popular with third-party programmers writing shareware and freeware modules, we have a small archive of programming material and modules available, in addition to BSI's free modules.

Here is some basic After Dark 2.0 programming information to get you started. The After Dark 3.0 programming manual is also available online and for download. See also another programming archive.

You can always find After Dark-related software, including loads of modules, in the Info-Mac directory devoted to screensavers, or in Rat Loaf's index.

These modules by Simon Fraser are very cool. Buzzz! is strongly recommended. Robert Geisler's Clouds module is also good.

Stephen's modules are good enough to win contests. Cynosure has been rolled into xscreensaver as a module. I was running Cynosure in beta, way back when.

Barney Blaster was, in its time, possibly the most overhyped screensaver module in existence.

Ishi's modules cover a wide range of interests.

Here's VCD.

Oh, and if you like Fish!, you will probably enjoy the fishcam.

Black Watch
A simple screensaver with a password function.

Bliss Saver
from Imaja. If you're familiar with After Dark, I can say that Bliss Saver is the Satori module gone wild. The images can be very good. CJ Silverio has rather more to say about Bliss than I do, and you'll get a good idea of what Bliss Saver is from looking at what she's created.

Bliss Saver is weak on multi-monitor support (isn't everything?) and will only look good when running in 256 colours and setting a palette that makes everything else look odd. It eats a lot of memory, and I had to give it extra to stop it from falling over. Technically speaking, it's not quite my cup of tea.

Make Macromedia Director-based screensavers for the Macintosh. Yawn. What does this offer over AutoLaunch?

Darkside of the Mac
Although Tom Dowdy's freeware After-Dark-compatible screensaver won't run the commercial After Dark 3.0 modules, it will run the many After Dark 2.0 modules as well as the forty or so modules it comes with. It's localised for a host of different languages, too. No wonder my FAQ recommends it almost as strongly as it recommends taking up Energy Star and forgetting about unnecessary animated screensavers altogether. If you want to see what third-party After Dark modules look like, download Darkside to play them.

Desktop Screen Saver
makes your desktop picture your screen saver picture, but needs JPEGView and Applescript to do so.

from Ambrosia Software. It includes Energy Star features. However, it's playing catchup with Sleeper.

Haven't tried this; Energy Star does a perfectly good job of saving the screen from phosphor burn in.

Flowfazer is apparently a legendary trip-out-to-these-psychedelic-patterns screensaver dating from its last incarnation in 1991 (v1.1). The rights to it are owned by Grokware, who currently make money from selling the images produced by the software, rather than the software itself. However, they are considering a commercial release of a new version.

Apparently Bliss Saver and After Dark's Satori module are similar enough to satisfy the stoned.

Focus Comatose
A similar feature set to Sleeper, with some extra frills, but Focus Comatose is an application rather than a control panel. Focus Comatose is worth looking at as one of the alternatives to the Monitor Energy Saver, but being an application means that it takes more memory, and it has a very ugly non-Mac user interface. Personally, I prefer Sleeper.

Intermission was later bought by Delrina, who used it as the engine for Berkeley Breathed and Dilbert screensavers. Symantec later acquired it; updates were available from Symantec's ftp server.

This used to be just a freeware dimmer. Then they added support for graphical modules. Then they added an After Dark module launcher. MacDim modules are available.

Monitor Energy Saver
Look, the Monitor Energy Saver can cause more problems than it's worth, even if it is Apple's own Energy Star saver - just look at the size of Apple's TIL article on it. You might try taking a look at Sleeper instead.

Apple didn't ship the Monitor Energy Saver with System software for quite a long time. From October 1995, Energy Star regulations were tightened to force equipment to be immediately capable of Energy Star, rather than having Energy Star as an option the user had to figure out how to use by installing software for it.

Apple began including the new Energy Saver 2.0 with new PCI Macs and with the 7.5.3 upgrade, but version 2.0 was not backwardly compatible with older Macs. To find out the current status of the Energy Saver, go to Apple's Tech Info Library and search for Energy Saver and Energy Star.

This doesn't do Energy Star, but it does do some cute graphics with multi-monitor support.

Pyro!, the original Macintosh fireworks screensaver, is dead, dead, dead, despite what Symantec might say. Here's their support for it, by ftp, which is also dead, dead, dead.

Setting Sun
High-end 3D animation requiring Quicktime and OpenGL. Interesting; there's an SDK, so you can develop your own screensaver plugins.

Screen Gear
This plays movies and shows pictures in a slide show - but prefers 2600K to do so.

from St. Clair Software. This can replace Apple's Monitor Energy Saver, and gives you more control over sleep and energy-saver times, installs the SAVR gestalt so that applications know that a screensaver is running, and can spin down your desktop Mac's noisy hard disks, too, saving even more energy, just like a portable Mac.

Apple's new Energy Saver 2.0 spins down the hard disks on the new PCI Macs. Until the new Energy Saver is made backwardly-compatible with older Macs, Sleeper is probably your best bet for the same functionality across a wider range of Macs and drives.

See the Sleeper FAQ.

from Bit Jugglers (a rather dead website there), is an After-Dark compatible whose engine plays screensavers on your desktop while you work. This is very neat, and has to be seen to be believed. A 'normal' screensaver feature which blanks the screen after a while (but not, alas, with Energy Star) and a desktop wallpaper installer are also included.

A demonstration copy of Underware 2.0, which includes a fully-functional engine capable of playing all third-party After Dark modules, and two example Underware modules, can be downloaded. (Download by ftp.)

In that, the cursor has a tendency to vanish when desktop animations are active under System 7.5.2 and up; this is fixed in Underware 2.0.1, so you'll need to download the 2.0.1 updater too. (Download by ftp.)

Unfortunately, I'm told Bit Jugglers have been bought out and have left the Mac market to concentrate on Windows; these files are the only way to obtain the while-you-work engine. Strongly recommended.

And that's the list, as far as I know.

Windows/PC screensavers

I happen to prefer Macs. Macs are at the cutting edge of screensaver technology. PCs aren't. Macs have more screensavers with more modules and a slightly more standard Energy Star capability than PCs. Handling screensaving in both DOS and Windows sessions is inelegant. And Windows includes a fairly poor screensaver as standard anyway.

Having said that, here are some pointers to Windows screensavers.

and some large index sites:


It's interesting to find out just which music groups are on the cutting edge of screensaver technology. Producing a video may not be enough anymore. Still, keeping track is too much like hard work.

And where are the rest?

I really have no idea, but I'm working on the theory that the web has made the screensaver obsolete, since browsing is what you do when you're not using your computer to do anything useful. And since you're browsing, if you find them let me know.

And just in case you missed it, let me mention my screensaver FAQ one more time, okay?

Doctor Fun does screensavers. And again. And again.

Lloyd Wood
last updated 12 September 2002