Maybe you’ve seen a list of Android Live Wallpapers and wished you could use them on your Mac. Sure, they’re a waste of processing power, but they’re also a lot of fun. Search all you want, however, and you won’t find a way to add these live wallpapers to your Mac’s desktop.
But there is an alternative. I showed you how to add beautiful information to your Mac desktop with Nerdtool. What I didn’t tell you is that this program can also add any Quartz animation to your desktop. These files are created by Quartz Composer, and provide a lot of the animated elements in your favorite Mac apps – but they’re perhaps most commonly used to create screensavers.
So here’s how you can use Nerdtool to add almost any screensaver, and a variety of other animations, to your computer’s desktop – and where to find the coolest ones.
You’ve already got some Quartz animations on your Mac: the default screensavers. Let’s go ahead and add one of those to our desktop to begin with, okay? Open NerdTool, then add a new Quartz object:
Once you’ve added the object, click the “Locate” button below the “Path” box. On you system drive, browser to “/System/Library/Screen Savers”, then pick any of the .qtz files. Arabesque is a simple way to start:
Now you need to configure the framerate – the default will basically not move. I recommend around 30fps, adjust to your taste.
Resize the file manually, or hit the “Size To Screen” checkbox toward the bottom-right. The result is an animated desktop, with Arabesque imposed over whatever wallpaper you happen to be using. It works best with a solid color:
Of course, you’re hardly limited to the default screensavers added by your Mac. Let’s find a few more, shall we?
If you’re a big fan of winter – and really, you should be – I recommend the seasonal animation, snowflakes.
A series of unique snowflakes drifts across your desktop. Magical.
Of course, winter isn’t for everyone – but space is. Longtime Mac users remember the amazing animated effect of the original Time Machine. That animation’s been removed from Apple’s backup program, but it’s been brought back as the– and it makes a great desktop:
It’s a great way to add a little adventure to your desktop, and it looks great too.
These screensavers work great, and any screensaver with a .qtz extension will also work. But screensavers aren’t the entire collection: you can browse QuarzCompetitions.com to find a number of animations. Here are a couple of highlights I found:
- SunBurstFire can overlay flames on your desktop.
- EarthWeather adds a spinning earth, complete with a moon. It’s supposed to also show live cloud coverage, though this function seems to be broken.
- BinaryEarth gives you a Matrixesque spinning globe.
Want more? Artist Mamoru Kano offers a variety of interesting Mac screensavers, including 20th Century Voyage (which combines 20th Century headlines with current RSS news) and Full Color Bossa (which explores color and language with interesting visuals). Both make for excellent animated wallpapers, so check them out.
Even More Interaction
Not sure about animation, but like the idea of bringing your Mac desktop to life? You could consider Satellite Eyes, which makes your wallpaper a satellite image of your location. It offers a variety of map effects:
Or, if you’d like, you could use Kuvva to show featured art on your desktop. You’ll see all kinds of things you like, every day.
Did you set up an animated wallpaper? If so, how do you like it? Share your thoughts, and any other .qtz files worth checking out, in the comments below. I’m looking forward to it.