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Screensavers were meant to be protective shields that kicked in when a computer stood idle. It’s not true anymore because screen technology has hopped ahead. We don’t actually need them  to shield our screens from phosphor burn-ins.

Screensavers today may be as useful as a brick from the Berlin Wall. But just like that plain old brick’s value as a memorabilia; screensavers also have managed to retain their charm.

The protective use of screensavers has given way to their use as fun tools. Then there is its Hyde-like face, when a Trojan hiding inside a screensaver file wrecks havoc on an unsuspecting computer.


But we like the good. So let’s not focus on evil cousins like spywares and malwares. Instead let’s look at ways how to use screensavers not only entertainment tools but also as utilitarian ones.

Screensavers make a fleeting appearance, as long as a computer stands idle. Even for those blink and its gone seconds, a screensaver can be put to a lot of creative uses. Let’s see how far the creative side of screensavers is being stretched.

A Temporary Shield To Secure Your Files

Walking away from your desk for some water-cooler chat? Secure your computer with a password protected screensaver. The password protection applies only if you use a log-on password.

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Read the Microsoft Help post to know the simple 3 steps to protect your files by using a screensaver password.

Make Your Own Desktop Art Gallery

Last year’s post on 5 Ways to Make Your Own Screensavers 5 Ways to Make Your Own Screensavers (Windows) 5 Ways to Make Your Own Screensavers (Windows) Read More took a look at some easy and quick ways to create your own screensavers. Once you know the How-to on screensavers, creating personalized screensavers is easy. There is no lack of ideas.

How about a family photo album? Or a chronological series of your child’s growing up photographs? One of the best uses I have seen is a screensaver being used to display a child’s artwork. In short, if you think of ways to use a photo, you can put it on a screensaver.

You can set up photo feeds using Photo Feeds for Google Photos Screensaver. Photo feeds are streams of images from sites that support photo feeds and viewable in Google Photos Screensaver.

Loopy is a Flickr based screensaver that displays the newest photos that gets uploaded on Flickr. You can click on the photos and directly go to their Flickr photostream.

Jog Your Memory With A Reminder

While putting together this article, I came across a mention of how an elderly person used a screensaver as a pill reminder tool. Neat!

creative screensavers

When we can have to-do pop ups from task management apps, why not use a screensaver for the same? If you know how to put together some text in MS Paint or even PowerPoint, you can use the simple graphic files as a reminder screensaver.

Five Seconds Of Motivation

The same technique applies to piling up a bunch of motivational posters and using them as screensavers. The previous link on how to make a screensaver shows the Picasa way to set it up with Google Photos Screensaver.

creative screensavers

Alternatively, you can set up a word cloud with a bunch of motivation triggering life goals and put it as a screensaver.

Get Digg-ing

Why not put a screensaver to do the Digg-ing for you? Digg Labs has five real time Digg tools which can be downloaded as screensavers for both Windows and Mac. The [NO LONGER WORKS] five tools are ““Arcs, BigSpy, Pics, Stack, and Swarm. All of them let you visualize real time Digg information on the screensaver. You need to have an internet connection and Adobe Flash 9 installed to enjoy them.

creative screensavers

Your Own Blogosphere Telescope

Just like the Digg real time visualization tools, the blogosphere also has some of its own screensaver help. Twingly is a blog search engine, but it’s the cool Twingly screensaver that takes the eyeballs. Here’s a review Twingly: Revised Blog Search + Awesome Screensaver Twingly: Revised Blog Search + Awesome Screensaver Read More which talks about the 24X7 blog feed streaming feature of the screensaver. You get to see what’s getting updated in blogs around the world with the visual help of an interactive 3D globe. You can rotate the globe and see blog postings in different corners of the world.

The 2.09MB download is Windows only.

The Same For RSS Feeds & Twitter

Screensavers are also available for free download which can enhance your desktop by giving you real time updates of RSS feeds and Tweets.

Screensavers & RSS feeds

RSSMore is a free screensaver that works like a feed reader by letting you subscribe to RSS/XML feeds. You can keep the background blank or set it up to display photos from picture albums. RSSMore cycles through the feeds and displays the feeds in boxes framed against the background. You can also click on any link and go to the source, directly from the screensaver.

MappedUp displays a world map of green dots. RSS news is tracked and displayed as interchanging red and yellow location dots on the map. Red dots are for updated feeds while yellow is a bit more passive feed. By rolling your mouse over the dots, you can read the titles of all new articles. By clicking a title, you jump to the author’s website to read the entire article.

RSS Saver is another screensaver with RSS preview and visualization features. It displays RSS feeds one at a time.

Screensavers & Tweets

Geocodearth (now in public beta) combines Twitter, Flickr and FFFFound to bring you location wise Tweets and images.

Twitsaver is another cool photo screensaver you can try out that takes in photos from Twitter’s public timeline.

Some Random Wikipedia Browsing

The Wikipedia screensaver loads random pages from the online encyclopedia. The time delay between each page load can be set by the user. The Wikipedia screensaver can also be configured to disable any process running in the background, like IE and Firefox.

It is a small 123KB download, but it requires .NET 1.1 or later to run. It is tested on Windows XP and Vista (only for admin account).

As Your Desktop Weatherman

When you read about the really cool weather app called YoWindow YoWIndow - A Really Cool Weather App With Virtual Weather Display YoWIndow - A Really Cool Weather App With Virtual Weather Display Read More , you can miss the mention of its use as a screensaver. YoWindow gives you a virtual glimpse of the weather outside by taking in the data from the METAR stations network. It displays an image of a landscape with the kind of weather you may be having.

I came across a screensaver download from Inrumor.com which also is a very good example of how to package your website’s branding into the utility of a screensaver. Inrumor is a site that talks about lifestyle, celebrities, auto industry, Hollywood, artists, politicians, and technology.

The screensaver in jet black gave me the local weather and a 2 day forecast. Following the theme of the website, it presented a scrollable stream of news feed on what it calls – rumors. A calendar and an analog clock rounded off the features.

Screensaver & Learning

Even the brief spell of a screensaver can be used to drill some bytes of learning. Check out a few examples at the links below.

SOHO Screensaver from the European Space Agency lets you watch spectacular, almost real-time images of our Sun. The images come from ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The screensaver comes in Windows and Mac OS X versions.

Screen-o-mania has some great screensavers. The Cities of the Earth 3D Screensaver finds popular mention. The screensaver shows highlighted cities with information about its population and country names. And you can add your own city.

Check out this simple screensaver which tries to promote hand hygiene using a screensaver.

And let me end with a brief mention of National Geographic Custom Screensavers which inspire care for the ecosystem. It’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Have you put screensavers to out of the ordinary uses lately? Let us pick up some more ideas.

Image Credit: mr.gibbs and newtype2011

  1. Tamal
    April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Great article Saikat. Nifty uses for something I thought was just eye-candy.

  2. Mauricio
    April 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    SOHO es increíble, gracias

  3. Mauricio
    April 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    SOHO es increíble, gracias

  4. Moviedownloads
    April 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I'm surprised there isn't a windows screensaver that mimics the 'Leave Message' function that Gnome has. It means that when you're away from your pc, visitors can type in a message which will show on the desktop next time you unlock the screen. Genius idea.

    • Saikat Basu
      April 30, 2010 at 11:14 am

      That's definitely a cool idea. Didn't know about that. It's like those notepads that are found hanging outside doors, and you can leave a message.

  5. lakridserne
    April 25, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I use BOINC on my computer, which have it's own screensaver that show the progress of the different projects - one project at a time.

  6. andrew
    April 25, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    mappedup is no longer working. results are from 200+ days ago, and do not update.

  7. Slundy99
    April 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    You can use: http://www.wordle.net/ to create the word cloud screensaver. Very nice for those of use that need motivation... Nice list!

  8. Anonymous
    April 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    You can use: http://www.wordle.net/ to create the word cloud screensaver. Very nice for those of use that need motivation... Nice list!

  9. drklassen
    April 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    How about contributing to science? http://boinc.berkeley.edu/inde...

  10. drklassen
    April 25, 2010 at 11:33 am

    How about contributing to science? http://boinc.berkeley.edu/index.php

  11. Dilbert
    April 25, 2010 at 4:40 am

    The Berlin wall has/had no bricks, it was poured concrete.

  12. Electronic Cigarette Girl
    April 24, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    yeap, inrumors is definitely nice. Thats the one ive been using for years. Heres the direct link to the downloads page: http://www.inrumor.com/inrumor...

    -Bella

  13. Chris Chippendale
    April 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Great article Saikat - love the SOHO Sun images one. Cheers!

  14. synapticspam
    April 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Great article! However, it seems that Digg's screensavers do not work on many Mac computers - mine included. Apparently, there are problems with the underlying code they have licensed which have not yet been resolved. The good news? You can easily work-around this problem using websaver, a great screensaver in it's own right! Websaver lets you display rotating websites, complete with movies and Flash. Just install, add the Digg page's URL, and you are ready to go.

    http://www.sandwichlab.net/web...

    Also, Tintent reminded me of another great clock screensaver, PolarClock. It's available for PC, MAC and iPhone.

    http://blog.pixelbreaker.com/p...

  15. Anon
    April 24, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    http://www.worldcommunitygrid.... This should be in the list

  16. Anon
    April 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ This should be in the list

  17. Angrypeanut
    April 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I used to use Mappedup but since all the news items are 290days old now and the author hasnt updated the site since 2006 I would give it a miss. Shame as I really liked it

  18. Anonymous
    April 24, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Great article! However, it seems that Digg's screensavers do not work on many Mac computers - mine included. Apparently, there are problems with the underlying code they have licensed which have not yet been resolved. The good news? You can easily work-around this problem using websaver, a great screensaver in it's own right! Websaver lets you display rotating websites, complete with movies and Flash. Just install, add the Digg page's URL, and you are ready to go.

    http://www.sandwichlab.net/websaver/#

    Also, Tintent reminded me of another great clock screensaver, PolarClock. It's available for PC, MAC and iPhone.

    http://blog.pixelbreaker.com/polarclock

  19. Tintent
    April 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    If you like clocks with a twist, check out Analogy. I've been using it for a while and think it's rather cool. Comes with Black or White screen options.

    http://www.jessonyip.com/analo...

    (No affiliation - It's just cool...and free!)

  20. Tintent
    April 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    If you like clocks with a twist, check out Analogy. I've been using it for a while and think it's rather cool. Comes with Black or White screen options.

    http://www.jessonyip.com/analogy/

    (No affiliation - It's just cool...and free!)

    • Saikat Basu
      April 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

      This one looks really nice and clean. Thanks for the link.

  21. abdullah
    April 24, 2010 at 11:11 am

    AweSOm man..U jsT gOt a lOt oF CrEatiVe thiNGs oN sinGle paGe....greAt ArTicL man...:)

  22. Steve Campbell
    April 24, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Nice article Saikat, you've given me reason to pay attention to screensavers again!

    • ænon1mus
      April 24, 2010 at 11:13 am

      I agree. When I first read it, that's what I said to myself!

      • Saikat Basu
        April 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

        Thanks, guys! Appreciate it. Actually, we can do a feed based screensaver for MUO too is somebody can code it. (Just a thought)

  23. Saikat Basu
    April 24, 2010 at 7:28 am

    It's called Fliqlo and it's available here .

    Thanks to the source from where I took the thumbnail from.

  24. Albert
    April 24, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Yes! I must have that big clock! URL please!

  25. Albert
    April 24, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Yes! I must have that big clock! URL please!

    • Saikat Basu
      April 24, 2010 at 5:28 am

      It's called Fliqlo and it's available here .

      Thanks to the source from where I took the thumbnail from.

  26. Ali Dada
    April 24, 2010 at 4:36 am

    its called Fliqlo, read here for more information http://lifehacker.com/331640/a... Although it has been noted with some issues so look before you install

  27. Anonymous
    April 24, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Yea ! its cool , can we get this clock ?

  28. Colter Joles
    April 24, 2010 at 12:32 am

    where can i get just a simple big clock- like the one that's on the main article picture??

  29. uttaradhaka
    April 24, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Awesome article as always man.. Gonna try them out

  30. Encik Baloot
    April 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    I really like the inrumor.com site. Download wallpapers too.

  31. Encik Baloot
    April 23, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I really like the inrumor.com site. Download wallpapers too.

    • Electronic Cigarette Girl
      April 24, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      yeap, inrumors is definitely nice. Thats the one ive been using for years. Heres the direct link to the downloads page: http://www.inrumor.com/inrumor/download/

      -Bella

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