How to Add a Screen Saver to Your Mac

You're not limited to screen savers provided by Apple

What to Know

  • Locate a screen saver online and download it to your Mac. Double-click the file to expand it if it is zipped.
  • Double-click to open the built-in installer. Select whether to install for all users or only for the current user. Then click Install.
  • Go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver tab. Select the newly installed screen saver to activate it.

This article explains how to install a custom screen saver to your Mac. It includes instructions for automatic and manual installs as well as information on removing a screensaver.

How to Install Screen Savers the Easy Way

Apple provides a variety of screen savers with macOS, but many others are available from third-party developers.

Most downloadable Mac screen savers are smart; they know how to install themselves. When you finish downloading a screen saver, you can install it automatically with just a few clicks.

  1. Go to a custom screen saver website, such as Screensavers Planet, and download a Mac screen saver file.

  2. Double-click the downloaded file to expand it if it is zipped.

  3. Double-click the expanded file to start the installation.

  4. Select whether you want to install the screen saver for the current user or for all users and then click Install.

    Screen Saver install screen for Mac
  5. Go to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver tab. Select the new file in the left column to activate it as the screen saver.

    Screen Saver tab of Mac Desktop & Screen Saver preferences

    How to Install Screen Savers Manually

    If your encounter a screen saver that doesn't install automatically, you can manually install it.

    Drag the downloaded screen saver to one of two locations:

    • /Library/Screen Savers/: Screen savers stored here can be used by any user account on your Mac. A pathname beginning with / indicates the file is stored on your startup drive, starting at the root entry point. Open your startup drive, look for the Library folder, then locate the Screen Savers folder. Drag your downloaded screen saver into this folder.
    • ~/Library/Screen Savers/: Screen savers stored in this location can only be used by the current user account. The tilde (~) character at the front of the pathname represents your personal home directory. For example, if your home directory is named tom, the pathname would be /Users/tom/Library/Screen Savers/. The tilde is just a shortcut to your currently logged-in user home directory. Put screen savers in this folder to make them only available only to the current user.

    How to Delete a Screen Saver

    Should you ever want to remove a screen saver, go back to the appropriate Library > Screen Savers folder and drag the screen saver to the Trash icon in the Dock.

    Sometimes identifying which screen saver is which by its file name can be difficult. In some versions of the macOS operating system, there's a simple way to delete a screen saver.

    This technique is available in older versions of macOS only.

  6. Launch System Preferences.

    Selecting System Preferences in macOS.
  7. Select Desktop & Screen Saver.

    Desktop and screen saver in macOS.
  8. Select the Screen Saver tab. In the left pane is a list of installed screen savers. Select one to display a preview in the right pane.

    Selecting Screen Saver in macOS.
  9. If this is the screen saver you want to remove, right-click on the screen saver's name in the left panel and select Delete from the pop-up menu.

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