One of the things that we’ve always covered well here at MakeUseOf is screensavers. It seems like there’s no shortage of really cool ways to make use of your computer when you’re not using it and it’s idle.
A few years ago, I wrote about all of the distributed computing projects you could donate your CPU time to – and most of those offered some pretty cool screensavers to boot. But even if you don’t want to give up your CPU time to some outside cause, there’s an endless choice of great free screensavers that’ll have people turning their heads to check out your screen every time your computer goes idle.
Not too long ago, Saikat wrote about 10 cool ways that you can make use of screensavers, and he also wrote about 5 ways to make your own screensavers. Around the same time, I covered 5 cool tech screensavers that I had fallen in love with.
It’s been a little while since we’ve covered the topic, and after a quick search I realized that there are a few really cool ways that you can make your computer useful even when you’re not sitting right at the keyboard. These days, a computer monitor isn’t just an active workstation, it’s a display where everyone can see it, so why not make that display provide useful information even when you’re not using the computer?
5 Screensavers to Display Useful Information
Why display some boring landscape or swirly animation all over the screen when you can actually make some practical use of that screen real estate during the time of day when you’re not sitting right there at the desk? This is especially useful if the computer is centrally located in your house. It would be nice to be able to glance at the computer screen and quickly check out the time, the weather, or the latest news, wouldn’t it?
Darn right it would. Let’s get it started.
Follow The World Of Twitter With Twingly
We’ve mentioned it before, and it’s time to mention it again. Twingly is without doubt the coolest screensaver around to get the latest information from the Twittersphere.
Why is everyone so ga-ga over Twingly? Just run it and you’ll see why. The graphics are wicked cool, and the way it spins out the most twitter updates along the side of the screen, showing you where in the world those Tweets are being made from – it’s just awesome. Easily one of the most well-made and most useful screensavers out there yet.
If you download the application and notice that it only seems to run as a desktop app, have no fear. All you have to do is rename the exe as .scr, then right-click on the application and choose “Install“. This will let you install it as one of your screensaver choices.
See Useful Computer Information With UsefulSaver
Of course, if tweets aren’t your thing, and information about your computer system feels more useful to you, then you’re in luck. Introducing the aptly named UsefulSaver screensaver.
This screensaver is sort of like an active dashboard of your computer status information. It displays the current date and time in the center of the screen, and along the sides and bottom of the screen it’ll give you the current CPU and memory usage, available hard drive space, and the top 5 processes currently running on your computer.
When you first launch the screensaver, all of the quotes are biblical quotes. If that’s your thing, you can leave it as is. If you want to create your own random quotes, just click the screensaver settings button in your Screen Saver Settings tool, and click to open the quotes text file. You can paste your own custom quotes in there.
Personally, I think UsefulSaver is one of the better screensavers out there, because a lot of time can go by before I bother checking available drive space or how high my CPU is running. This screen lets you see everything at a quick glance.
The Only Clock Screensaver You Need
Of course, if time is more your thing, there are many, many, many clock screensavers out there. I personally don’t really have much use for them because it seems like a waste to use a huge computer screen as just a clock. What a waste of space! That was, until I discovered World Clocks.
This is a whole different story. For anyone that has friends or colleagues all around the world, this screensaver can really come in handy more than you might realize. Do you have to meet someone at 7PM London time? Sick of trying to calculate time zones and remember when that is in India or on the East Coast of the U.S.? Install this one and all you have to do is glance at the right time zone on the computer monitor. You’ll never miss another international online meeting again!
Follow Your Favorite Blogs With RSSMore
If you’re a regular reader of MakeUseOf, then the odds are that you like blogs and probably subscribe to one or two RSS feeds (hopefully including ours…)
Anyway, if you want a fast and easy way to follow those RSS feeds, why not have your screensaver display them when you’re not at your computer using a RSS feed screensaver called RSSMore.
This app will basically overlay the last 10 or so feed updates – or updates from your multiple feeds – on one page transparently, with a nice photo of your choosing in the background. The background images can be customized by changing the image directory, and of course the RSS feeds can be updated to include as many of your favorite feeds as you like.
Why is this useful? Well, consider what happens when you get up to make an sandwich for lunch, and when you come back your screensaver is on. Now, you don’t even have to bother to unlock the screen and browse to your favorite sites, just skim the RSS feed updates listed right on the screen while you’re eating.
Get the Cool Windows 8 Lock Screen for Windows 7
Okay, so I definitely saved the best for last on this one. I’m not really that excited about switching to Windows 8 yet, to be honest. I’ve never really been one to jump on the bandwagon right off the bat. I like to see how things gel. Remember Windows Vista?
Of course, while I’m waiting to see how Windows 8 pans out, I couldn’t help but noticing that ultra-cool lock screen that Windows 8 users get to have. It looks a lot like the screen on my smartphone! Well, now you can have that same lockscreen on Windows 7 by running.
Isn’t that sweet? And while the built-in imagery is pretty good, you can pretty much choose any images that you want from your own collection. Yes, it’s another Date/Time screensaver, but it also has some pretty cool features, like the ability to leave a note open on the screen when you get up and walk away from your computer.
Which can be pretty handy when the boss comes by and wonders where the heck you are. You can jot down a note letting her know that you are, in fact, diligently working on that project across the building, not hamming it up with your buddies at the water cooler.
And yes, it actually serves as a real lock screen, so when you move your mouse you’ll need to remember the password you set up when you installed it.
So, there you have it – 5 screensavers that can put that screen real estate to good use when you aren’t right there in front of the screen. Why not make better use of your computer monitor during your computer “downtime”, right?
Do you use any informational and useful screensavers? Do you think you might use any of these? Share your own resources or offer some thoughts about these in the comments section below.
Image credit: hand reaching images via Shutterstock