OS X: Configuring a screen saver to display at the login window

Learn how to configure a screen saver to display at the login window using OS X v10.6 and later.

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Specifying a screen saver for the login window

You can use any one of the methods below to enable and configure this feature.

Using OS X Server Profile Manager

  1. In Profile Manager, select the Device or Device Group you wish to manage.
  2. Click the Settings tab.
  3. Click the Edit button to edit the profile.
  4. Select the Login Window payload under the OS X section.
  5. If you have not configured settings for this payload, click the Configure button.
  6. Click the Options tab.
  7. Enable the checkbox next to the "Start screen saver after: X minutes" option.
  8. Enable the checkbox next to the "Use screen saver module at path:" and enter a path to a screen saver module.
  9. Click OK to dismiss the edit view.
  10. Click Save to save the changes.

Using OS X Server Workgroup Manager 

  1. In Workgroup Manager, select the Computer or Computer Group record you wish to manage.
  2. Click Preferences in the top toolbar.
  3. Click the Overview tab.
  4. Click Login.
  5. Click the Options tab.
  6. Choose to manage the settings "Always".
  7. Enable the checkbox next to the "Start screen saver after: X minutes" option.
  8. Click the ellipsis button (…) to select a screen saver.
  9. Click Apply Now.

Configure locally using the Terminal

  1. Open Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities).
  2. The following two Terminal commands set the idle time to 5 minutes (300 seconds), and specify the Arabesque screen saver module. You can change the time period by adjusting the number, which is 300 seconds below. You can change "Arabesque.qtz" to a different screen saver if desired.

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver loginWindowIdleTime 300 

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver loginWindowModulePath "/System/Library/Screen Savers/Arabesque.qtz"

Screen savers that can be displayed at the login window

For security reasons, there are restrictions on which screen savers can be used from the Login window. Screen savers that work at the Login window include:

  • Apple screen saver modules; third-party or custom screen savers are not supported at the Login window
  • Among Quartz Composer screen savers, only Arabesque, Shell, and Spectrum can be used
  • .slideSaver bundles are allowed

These types of screen savers are not allowed at the Login window:

  • Third-party or custom screen savers
  • RSS feeds
  • iPhoto/Aperture albums
  • random and shuffle screen savers
  • iTunes Artwork screen saver

If an unsupported screen saver module is selected, the Flurry screen saver module displays instead.

For information about how to display a custom message using the screen saver at the login window, see Managed Client: How to customize the Computer Name screen saver message for the Login Window.

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