My husband and I just returned from Las Vegas and a visit to our respective in-laws. His parents are now Mac users, too.
Once we set them up on a MacBook with the basics—Mail, Safari, iPhoto, iTunes, and iWork, you’d think they’d want instructions on each. Nope. The first thing they asked for was how to use the Mac’s screensaver. No offense is intended, Apple, but the basic Mac screensaver is rather boring.
All That Glitters Is Not iPhoto
It didn’t take long to get iPhoto on their new Mac all filled up with photos. Even mature adults have digital cameras these days and have been collecting photos on Windows PCs for years.
My in-laws were not satisfied with the stock screensaver in OS X so we looked around for a few others.
Surprisingly, there are not many. Why is that? It can’t be because OS X’s screensaver app is so loaded down with features, can it? Whatever the reason, it took awhile to find even two or three screensavers that had been updated in recent memory.
One of the three additional screensaver that we settled on is Screen Elements, an uncreative name for a set of features that extend your Mac’s screensaver capability.
Like most Mac screensavers, Screen Elements lets you choose photos or images from iPhoto, the original Mac desktop pictures, or any folder of photos on your Mac. Choose from a variety of animation transitions between photos.
I found this to be a puzzling selection, since there are so many options. Puzzle, Bubbles, Drops, Flip and Dissolve are the choices, and each has a number of specific settings.
Start by selecting which photos you want to be in the screensaver slideshow. Use the standard fare images in OS X, or any slideshow from iPhoto, or Events, or a custom selection. Options include changing the element size of each transition (from large to small), the multiply factor (how many elements show up on screen), the delay and fading.
There’s also a setting to animate the slideshow settings into the Mac’s desktop background. The problem with Screen Elements is that, like many Mac screensavers, it doesn’t do enough to get me excited.
The transitions are seem like simple variations on a theme.
Even the Ken Burns effect movement of the default screensaver is more visually appealing. Still, my in laws wanted more. Disappointingly, there are just not that many screensaver choices for Mac users. So we thought.
With a little effort we came up with more screensavers, none that I cherish, but more than enough to satisfy relatives who are new to the Mac. 7-Art Screensavers has a bunch, most are free, and they run on Macs and Windows PCs.
PaperPilots Screensaver is a 3D-like screensaver with combinations of airplanes, balloons, and Fisher Price-like cartoon elements. Joe Hillman’s Autumn screensaver was a big hit. There isn’t much that’s colorful or pretty about autumn in Las Vegas.
Easily the favorite among all those screensavers that we waded through for hours was 3D Desktop Dogs Screensaver. It’s what you think it is. 3D-like dogs which run all over your Mac’s screen, leaving footprints, and generally messing things up in a Hanna-Barbera kind of way.
I’m more into fish than dogs, but I admit 3D Desktop Dogs was fun. I’ve been using a Mac for many years and about the only screensaver that gave me warm and fuzzies was a fish aquarium. We spent a few hours getting my in laws into their Mac, most of it selecting screensavers. In the end, my iMac has fish in an aquarium, and my MacBook has dogs.