Mac Basics: Display a screen saver when you're not using your Mac

When you're not using your Mac, you can set it to display a screen saver or to turn off your display.

Choose a screen saver

OS X comes with several screen savers that display photos, messages, artwork from your iTunes library or photo library, and more.

Desktop and Screen saver preferences
To set your preferred screen saver:

  1. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  2. From the View menu, choose Desktop & Screen Saver.
  3. Click the Screen Saver tab. Available screen savers appear in the left side of the window and a preview of the selected screen saver appears on the right.
  4. Select one of the screen savers in the left pane. To see a full-screen preview, move your cursor over the right pane and click the Preview button.

To create a slideshow screen saver, do one of the following:

  1. In the preferences window, select a slideshow choice like Floating, Reflections, Origami, or Shifting Tiles. 
  2. Change the source for your slideshow. OS X comes with collections like as National Geographic, Aerial, Cosmos, and Nature Patterns. You can also choose a folder of images on your computer, or an event from your photo library. 

Set your preferences

You can tell OS X when to activate the screen saver by choosing an idle time from the "Start after:" menu at the bottom of the preferences window. For example, if you don't touch your mouse, keyboard or trackpad for 20 minutes, the screen saver activates. 

 options appear at the bottom of the preferences window

Clicking the Hot Corners button gives you options to activate or disable the screen saver when you move your pointer to one of the corners of the screen. Choose an option from the pop-up menu that corresponds to a specific corner.

use hot corners to activate or prevent your screen saver

Lock your screen

If you want to require a password to unlock your screen after the screen saver activates, you can set this option from Security & Privacy preferences.

set your lock screen from Security & Privacy preferences

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Security & Privacy icon in the System Preferences window.
  3. Click the General tab.
  4. Choose an option from the menu "Require a password after sleep or screen saver begins."

Save energy

Your Mac uses its processor, graphics chip, and display when it shows a screen saver. To save energy, you can tell your Mac to put the display to sleep when it's left idle instead.

set your screen to automatically turn off from Energy Saver preferences

  1. Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Click the Energy Saver icon in the System Preferences window.
  3. Move the slider named "Turn display off after" or "Display Sleep" to power down the display after the idle time you set.

If your screen saver is set to come on after the display is powered down, the screen saver you selected isn't shown. Instead, your computer conserves energy. If you're using a notebook computer like a MacBook Pro, you can set different values for when you are using battery power or a power adapter.

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified:
Helpful?
68% of people found this helpful.

Additional Product Support Information

Start a Discussion

in Apple Support Communities
See all questions on this article See all questions I have asked
United States (English)