Screensavers aren’t really necessary anymore, but operating systems keep offering them – and people keep making new ones. This is especially true on the Mac – in recent years a few stunning ones have showed up.
Let’s look at a bunch of screensavers you can download for your Mac. They may not be practical, but they sure look good.
Aerial: Beautiful Views of Major Cities
The new Apple TV has a lot of great features, including voice search and a new app ecosystem. But there’s also one other minor addition: a screensaver featuring gorgeous aerial footage from around the world.
Stunning, right? It’s nice enough that programmer John Coates decided his Mac needed this same screensaver, so he went ahead and built that same screensaver. Aerial is a Mac screensaver that streams this beautiful footage directly from Apple – you’ll need an Internet connection for it to work (offline support is reportedly coming). But man, this footage is kind of worth it.
You can decide which footage does and doesn’t show, and whether each of your Mac’s multiple monitors show the same or different footage. If you want people who walk by your computer to say “wow”, install this one – it’ll work. Even better: Apple keeps adding new footage, which this screensaver will find for you, so you’ll be surprised by new things in the future.
Electric Sheep: Mind Blowing, Evolving Animations
If you prefer abstractions to reality, this is an evolving psychedelic collaborative art project that’s also a screensaver. Basically, you’ll see a bunch of amazing computer generated imagery like this:
Individual sequences are called “sheep”, and you can actually vote on them using your arrow keys: up if you like it, down if you don’t. Over time the project will combine aspects from upvoted sheep to form new ones, which in theory will result in things that people like. It’s fun to participate in, and looks great.
Padbury Clock: It’s Just a Clock
You can configure an optional clock to show up over any screensaver, but maybe you want nothing but a clock. If so, this simple screensaver is for you.
It really doesn’t get any simpler than this: this screensaver shows only the time. You can invert the colors, turn off 24-hour time, but beyond that there aren’t many features — and there doesn’t have to be, really.
If you want something a little more animated, check out Fliqlo, which is a similar screensaver that looks like a flip clock.
Saver.is (Pay What You Want): Geometric Patterns Galore
Let’s head back to the domain of abstraction, shall we? Saver.is stacks what appear to be paper cutouts on top of each other, creating patterns as it goes. Sometimes there are shapes, sometimes there are words, sometimes it’s just patterns, but it’s always pleasant to look at.
You can pick between a bunch of different color schemes, and which directions the cutouts come from. There are 340 different stencils and 19 color schemes to choose from, and the project uses a pay-what-you-want funding model.
Video Screen Saver ($4): Use Any Video as Your Screen Saver
If you like the idea of the Aerial screensaver, but want to pick your own footage, Video Screen Saver is the only thing I found that promises to play your videos as a screensaver. I haven’t personally found a use for it myself, and reviewers complain about multi-monitor support, but if you want to set a video to be your screensaver it’s probably your best bet.
Clear Day ($2) World Weather
There are a lot of great Mac weather apps out there, including at least one snarky weather robot, but if you want a weather screensaver Clear Day is your best bet. This screensaver shows you the world, and what the weather’s like all over it. Pick a few cities and the screensaver will rotate between them, showing you where a given city is and what the weather is like over there.
What Are Your Favorite Mac Screensavers?
Your Mac actually comes with some pretty great screensavers by default. There are several designed to show off your photo collection, including one that puts them all into frames. There’s one that shows you the word of the day, and another you can use to see the headlines from any RSS feed.
You can access and customize them by heading to System Preferences > Desktop & Screensaver — you might find something worth using.
Remember: there are many creative ways to use screensaver, and you can even use some of these screensavers as live wallpaper for your Mac if you’re willing to work at it.
But now I want to hear from you: what are your favorite Mac screensavers? Let’s compile some more stunning ones in the comments below – I’m looking forward to it.