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Mac Basics: Using Screen Saver when your screen is idle

Learn how to set Screen Saver to lock your screen or display your own slideshow creation.

Setting your screen saver

OS X contains several preinstalled screen savers that display photos, messages, artwork from your iTunes or iPhoto 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 to display the Screen Saver setting. Screen Savers appear in the left pane. The right pane displays a preview of the selected screen saver.
  4. Select one of the Screen Savers in the left pane. To see a full-screen preview, hover 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 Screen Saver preferences window, select one of the slideshow choices, such as Floating, Reflections, Origami, or Shifting Tiles. 
  2. Change the source for your slideshow.
    • OS X comes with pre-installed collections such as National Geographic, Aerial, Cosmos, and Nature Patterns.
    • If you have iPhoto installed, you can choose a recent iPhoto Event or your photo library.
    • You can also choose a folder of images on your computer to use for your slideshow.

          Desktop and Screen saver preferences 

Setting preferences

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

 bottom of 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.

hot corners options

Locking 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.

security 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."

Saving Energy

Your computer utilizes the computer's CPU, graphics chip and display to present a screen saver. To save energy, you can set OS X to put the display to sleep when it's left idle instead.

  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" 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 Mac portable, you can set different values for when you are using battery power, and when using 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: Aug 25, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Aug 25, 2014
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