Whether it is your home computer for fun, the tablet you take to read on the train, or your office work computer, we spend A LOT of time on our computers. According to studies, the average American spends 4-6 hours a day on the computer. Another study shows that 65% of Americans spend more time with their computers than with their spouses! And this doesn’t include all the time we spend on our other gadgets, like iPhones. Since we spend so much time with our computers, it is no wonder that we like to individualize them with screensavers.
There have been quite a few studies which analyze what your screensaver says about you. In one study, it was found that landscape scenes on screensavers could help reduce stress by 30%. However, there is a bit of a contradiction to this: you only see a screensaver when you aren’t working on the computer. In an office setting, the only way to reduce stress through a screensaver would be to encourage idling! Plus, just taking a break is enough to cut back on stress. Still, if you are feeling a bit burned out and anxious, then it could be worth it to switch your preset screensaver to a nice landscape.
On personal computers for work, one of the most common screensavers are of family members. There are a lot of free programs which will turn your pictures into a stunning slideshow screensaver. Studies show that seeing family on those computer-idle moments at work can help keep you motivated. A glimpse of your young baby will remind you of why you work so hard.
People with a lighthearted spirit will often put funny or cute screensavers on their computers – like animals or comics. This is their way of rewarding themselves with some humor each time they take a break from the computer so it goes into screensaver mode.
Not surprisingly, outdoor themed screensavers are favored by hippies and green enthusiasts. But there are a lot of office workers who use the nature screensavers as an escape – even if just for a fleeting moment – to a more natural, serene environment.
In a lot of offices, it is pretty common to find at least one person’s screensaver with a message like “Get out of my office!” These custom screensavers with words are a witty and stylish way of getting your personality across – something which shouldn’t be taken for granted in a large, corporate office setting. Bosses might even be tempted to program their staffs’ computers with a screensaver saying, “get back to work” since they have obviously been idling!
A lot of people identify themselves with their favorite movies or other popular culture. So, it isn’t shocking that a lot of people have themed screensavers. According to PC World, some of the most popular screensavers are Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. People who put up these popular culture screensavers are more likely to change their screensavers frequently. They like to keep things interesting in the office or at home to remove the monotony of computer use. This is in stark contrast to people who don’t bother to put a screensaver up at all because they consider computers a functional object, not an extension of their personalities.
There are always new, cool apps coming out for the iPhone. Most of these are a lot of fun and have a practical function too. But some of the iPhone apps are well-intentioned but misconceived. Take the ScreenSaver app as an example.
As you would expect, ScreenSaver app is a screensaver program for your iPhone made by Cydia. When your iPhone locks or is idle, the ScreenSaver app will take .mov files from your iPhone library and start to play them. The app comes with some really cool preset screensavers, like Burning - a mega hit which shows a burning city and looks very apocalyptic. The other screensavers include Apple, Calm Seas, Fire and Moon Time Lapse. This seems like a really cool idea, right? But do keep in mind that screensavers aren’t always necessary in life. Screensavers were only developed in order to protect old computer monitors against phosphor burn. Those old computers had phosphor pixels which got really hot and, if kept lit for a long time, would burn the monitor glass! We don’t have this problem with today’s screensavers but people still love screensavers. They provide us with entertainment and also serve as a warning that our computers may go into sleep mode soon.
Screensavers do not save your monitor any energy though. If you own an iPhone, then you know how precious your battery life is! If you opt to use ScreenSaver, then your iPhone will never go into power-saving mode. To make matters worse, the ScreenSaver will actually use up more battery power than normal (unless you normally play videos constantly).
It can still be a lot of fun to use the ScreenSaver app. People get curious if they see that your iPhone has a video running instead of just showing a black screen. If you are at a party, then this can be a great conversation starter. Already, a lot of people asked me about it when they saw Burning. Plus, you can add your own .mov files to be played instead of the ones which come with the app. I am sure that people could get very creative with this. For example, if you have a business, why not play your company logo or ads on your iPhone instead of just letting it go black? If you just need a pick-me-up throughout the day, then put a video of your kid as the iPhone screensaver. This can help you stay motivated!
Besides from this ScreenSaver app, there are plenty of other screensavers you can download for iPhone. The great thing is that they are free! Just make sure that you disable the app once you are done playing around with it because it can really run out your battery life quickly.
Even though screensavers are so simple, people go crazy for them. Just look at screensavers like 3D Fish School which sell for $20 and have thousands of people using them. If you know even a bit about design, you could make a screensaver and profit from it – but it isn’t necessarily going to be easy.
If you do a search for screensavers, you will notice that nearly all of them are offered for free. People simply aren’t willing to fork over their hard earned cash (even if it is just $5-$20) for a screensaver. Today’s web users have gotten used to getting things for free so you’d have to offer a massive hit screensaver if you want to get enough sales to make it worth the costs of developing, web hosting, and so forth. There are a lot of hit screensavers but you’d have to have a lot of luck and talent to make the next 3D Fish School.
Many of the free screensavers online are making a lot of money without users ever having to pay for a download. How is this? Because they put advertisements on their sites and/or in their actual screensaver programs. Each time a person downloads the screensaver or clicks an ad on the website, the screensaver owner gets a small commission from the advertiser. A lot of people feel deceived once they figure out that virtually everything on the net (from your favorite blog to those “free” downloads) are for profit. But you cannot blame someone for wanting to make money! Thanks to advertising, the internet allows us access to streams of products and information. Instead of paying cash, we can pay for our attention to ads. With this in mind, it never hurts to help support website owners by clicking on their advertisements so they can get a commission.
So, let’s say that you have made a great screensaver. How do you go about making money from it? Then you will need to set up a website were the screensaver can be downloaded. You will need to do is decide whether you want to sell it for cash or offer it for free. The second option usually works better. Most people opt for the second option because they ultimately will make more money through ads. There are a lot of ad programs you can join just through a simple application process. The most popular is Google AdSense. When someone comes to your website to download the free screensaver, Google will put ads on your site which are related to the content. If someone clicks on an ad, you get about 5 cents.
You will need to advertise your screensaver. There are plenty of free places to do this. One of the best is YouTube. Just offer a short snippet of your screensaver as a YouTube upload and then include a link to your website within the video. You can also make blogs to support your screensaver or submit your screensaver to download sites. Just always make sure you are linking back to your main webpage so you can get money from the ads.
Want to make your own screensaver? Luckily, it is really easy and probably isn’t going to cost you a cent with all of the free screensaver creator programs available. Here are some of our top free picks for making simple screensavers.
Instant Storm is a screensaver creator which will turn Flash files into a screensaver. This is one of the most advanced screensaver creators you will get without having to pay a cent. It even lets you customize all sorts of aspects of your screensaver and has features like live previews, debugging, various resolution options, support for external files, and much more. Despite the advanced nature of the screensaver creator, it is still simple enough for novices to use. You can even use Instant Storm for commercial projects and they won’t even put watermarks on your created screensavers!
This free screensaver creator is pretty simple but it gets the job done. You can turn JPEG, GIF, BMP, ICO and SWF flash files (including animated files) into screensavers with ease. This program is made by WebGraffiti. You can use it to make screensavers for your company but you can’t use the program for any commercial uses.
The free version of gPhotoShow screensaver creator lets you make stunning screensavers out of your photos or any other images. Of course, you could just set your computer to display a photo slideshow for your screensaver. What gPhotoShow does though is allow you to put transitions, adjustable speeds, set sequences or go random, configure the delay between images, and automatically resize your images. You can also use the program to make slide shows of images. There is an advanced version of gPhotoShow screensaver creator which offers a lot more features. If you just want a nice, customizable screensaver, then the free version will probably be adequate. But, the pro version is only about $15 so it may be worth it to get the extras.
For novices, !EasyScreenSaver station is one of the best screensaver creators available. It uses a wizard system which takes you through all of the steps to make a professional looking screensaver in just a few minutes. The free version of the software doesn’t have all of the features as the pro version but you can still customize some cool aspects, like adding labels to images, editing images, and supporting flash movies. I really like the translucent feature which lets you show your screensaver while still being able to see your desktop behind it.
Things to Keep in Mind!
There are a lot of free screensaver programs available. Just keep in mind that a lot of them have ads imbedded with them to offset the cost of their products. Be careful that you unclick the box which says something like “add X to my toolbar” or “make X my default web browser” or “send me news and updates.” Once you get the hand of the free screensaver creators, you can decide if you want to up your skills with one of the pro versions. Just about every Pro screensaver program lets you try it for free. If you do decide to buy, these screensaver creators are pretty cheap at about just $15-$20 each for unlimited use.
Of the thousands of screensaver options available, the “Dream Aquarium” screensaver is one of the most popular and has only become more popular as years pass. What is it about this aquarium screensaver which makes everyone want it and even willing to pay $20 for it instead of opting for a free screensaver?
Dream Aquarium screensaver is made by an Academy Award winning special effects designer. But I doubt even he could have predicted what a big hit his screensaver would become! It didn’t take long before the screensaver sold thousands of downloads. There are even Dream Aquarium DVDs so you can put the fish scenes on your TV too. Since Dream Aquarium screensaver has come out, it has added tons of new features. I took a look at the free trial version which doesn’t have all the features of the full-access version – but even this version was really cool.
In the free trial version of the screensaver, you can choose between 6 different species of fish and put them in various tanks. The fish are incredibly realistic looking and are all viewed from close up. The most impressive thing is the way that these virtual fish move through the water. Plus, there are tons of nice details like flowing seaweed and little crabs running across the screen. In the screensaver settings, you have a lot of customization options – like changing the lighting. One cool feature is that you can feed the fish. When you drop the food into the tank, the fish come scurrying to eat it. With the full version of the screensaver, you get 27 species of fish and a lot more features to play with – like being able to color your own species of fish.
Dream Aquarium is right up there as the most popular screensaver with the Fireplace screensaver and 3D Fish School screensaver. It seems a bit odd that 2 of 3 top screensavers are fish themed but it makes sense: looking at aquariums is very calming. If you are at work (or idling at work!) and the screensaver comes on, it can do a lot of good for calming your nerves. The same applies for the Fireplace screensaver though that one also has a romantic warming effect.
If you try the Dream Aquarium screensaver for free, you will have to deal with some pop up ads. For $20, you can get the full version of the screensaver. This does seem like a lot to pay for a screensaver considering all the ones that can be found for free online. But this is definitely an addicting screensaver! If you don’t want to spend the $20, you can find some fish themed screensavers for free online.
Our computers perform such complicated tasks that we probably don’t think much about the simple tasks, like displaying a screensaver. Screensavers are pretty interesting in the tech world because, despite the fact they have lost their original function, they still remain very popular.
The first screensavers were made to prevent computer monitors from getting phosphor burn. This would happen with those early monitors if they showed the same image for too long of a time. If you can think back to your first CRT computer monitor, it probably had some specks of discoloration on the monitor. That occurred from the phosphor pixels burning the glass. Today’s computer monitors don’t have this problem so there is no need for screensavers. Yet, screensavers are still incredibly popular because they:
- Provide entertainment
- Individualize our computers
- Can brand computers (such as at a company work station)
- Perform useful functions (like displaying information or computing)
A screensaver is an executable file which means it does not need any other program to run. Most executable files use the .exe extension but screensavers usually use the .scr extension. When you download a screensaver though, it is common for it to appear as .exe instead of .scr.
Your computer is constantly keeping track of everything you do on your computer. If you don’t perform any tasks (like moving the mouse) for a set period of time, then a command will be sent to turn on the screensaver. You can set this amount of time under your screensaver settings or opt to turn the screensaver off. Many programs, like movie players, operate under Computer Based Training (CBT) which means that your computer will register them as activity – even if you aren’t moving your mouse. This prevents a screensaver from popping up while you watch a film, for example.
There are some glitches with this system though. When your computer senses that it may be time to start a screensaver, it basically sends a question to the foreground application asking “should I start a screensaver?” Of course, this question is in the form of a command in computer language. If you are running a program which does not understand the command (such as a program not for Windows), then your computer won’t get the response message, “No, I am doing something right now.” That is why screensavers sometimes start in movie players or other times when you wish they wouldn’t. When you do something on your computer again, such as moving the mouse, then the screensaver will be turned off. You can program your screensaver to only respond to certain actions, like typing Enter.
Screensavers were originally made to protect computer monitors from getting phosphor burn. The older computer monitors had phosphor pixels and, if the same pixels remained lit for an extended period of time, the phosphor would burn the monitor’s glass and cause discoloration. Screensavers turned off the screen before this could happen. Today’s computer monitors don’t have this problem so screensavers have lost their original function. However, screensavers can still help you save something just as important: energy.
I used to have an argument with my husband about when to turn off the computer. Starting up a computer (aside from being an annoyance) takes more energy than when the computer is in screensaver mode. His argument was that it is better to leave the screensaver going than turn the computer completely off or put it to sleep. My argument was that the computer should be turned off as often as possible. Thanks to the help of an energy meter, we were able to figure out just how much a computer uses during screensaver mode.
An average desktop computer uses about 80-250 Watts. Add to this the monitor’s energy use and you’ve got another 20-80 Watts. Old school monitors tend to use upwards of 80 Watts whereas the newer LCD monitors use less. The amount of energy your computer will use varies depending on a lot of factors, including the monitor size. Your computer label will tell you power usage but keep in mind that this is the maximum amount that it uses, not necessarily how much it actually uses while running. Don’t forget that there are other external aspects to your computer setup which are using electricity – like your router.
Computers have two levels of power reduction. The first is going to the screensaver. Here is where things get interesting: a screensaver can actually end up using more energy than an idle computer! Those fancy graphics or really complex screensavers are executable programs so they take energy to run. While in screensaver mode, your computer is still idling so will use up energy PLUS the energy for the screensaver graphics. The only way you are saving energy with a screensaver is by choosing one which is completely black. By contrast, sleep mode (also called hibernate or standby) only uses about 8-15 Watts total for the monitor and computer.
A screensaver is not going to save your energy at all. If you want to save energy, then you should change the preferences on your computer so it spends less time in the screensaver and goes into sleep mode faster. Putting your computer to sleep will NOT burn out your computer. Yes, it does usually take a few Watts (up to 10) to turn the computer on or off but this is less than what you’d waste by keeping your computer plus monitor on for 10 minutes (with a newer computer) or 5 minutes (with an older computer). If you are going to be away from your computer for more than 20 minutes, it is best to forgo the screensaver and put it to sleep!
I recently came across some cool screensavers which cyber geeks are going to love. The screensavers track malware activity from around the globe and deliver the info as stats in real time. It doesn’t get more high-tech than this!
The first screensaver is Irida and it is made by Kaspersky Lab (as in the antivirus program). You will need to have Kaspersky Security Network if you want to use this screensaver. Since the screensaver is so cool, it is worth choosing Kaspersky as your antivirus over the other options. The screensaver shows up as an sci-fi looking globe that is spinning around on top of a platform which blasts it with green light. There is programming code running along the top of the screensaver (I’m assuming these are the viruses and so forth) and a box to the right side with updates. Each time the Kaspersky Security Network blocks a threat, it shows up on the globe. What makes the Irida screensaver so cool is that you can see exactly where your virus threats are coming from. It also gives you a good idea of just how many viruses are getting blocked by Kaspersky every day! Unfortunately, the Irida screensaver is only for Windows right now. Another down side is that this screensaver is only suitable for full-size computers because the text can be a bit hard to read otherwise.
Another cool, high-tech screensaver with a similar theme is Deep Sight by Symantec. It doesn’t have as tech-y as a design as the Kaspersky screensaver but it still looks fantastic. You see a grid-line map of the world with a satellite picture of the earth taking up the right side of the screen. Instead of giving stats about your personal virus threats, Deep Sight tracks threats all over the world. Then, it displays the number of threats in their geographic location. This gives you an idea of just how many computer threats there are lurking around on the net – and which countries are most at risk! There are also some stats about which treats are the most common. So long as you are connected to the internet, Deep Sight will automatically update. Do keep in mind that Deep Sight isn’t an antivirus or antimalware program. It is just for fun to track the threats around the world. You will still need an antimalware program to keep your computer safe. After seeing how many threats are occurring daily around the world, you will really be motivated to update your antimalware programs! This screensaver can be used on both Windows and Mac.
For most people, a screensaver is just a pleasant image which kicks in when your computer is idle for a few minutes. For others though, their screensavers are part of a massive experiment meant to help find extraterrestrial beings. The experiment is called SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and it is gaining momentum worldwide.
The SETI project was launched in Berkley with the goal of monitoring the skies for signs of extraterrestrial life. The way that the researchers look for signs is with radio signals. Since radio signals do not occur naturally, any radio signal would be proof that there is life beyond Earth. Special radio telescopes are used to detect the radio signals. The telescopes use advanced computer programs to interpret the data so Earth radio signals (like from TVs or satellites) are differentiated from any external radio waves.
Whether or not you believe that there is life beyond Earth, the SETI project presents a rational way of detecting it – so long as it comes in the form of radio waves. The major problem with SETI though is that it requires A LOT of computing power to locate and go through all of the different signals received. At first, the SETI team at UC Berkley tried to make super computers to get the task done but this just wasn’t enough. Then they realized that they could use many smaller computers all working at the same time. = Different parts of the equations could be computed separately and then put together later. That is when they came up with the idea of the SETI screensaver.
The idea of the SETI screensaver is that regular people can “donate” their computers to help with the data computing of the SETI project. You just load the SETI screensaver to your computer. It doesn’t interfere with any of your computer’s regular functions. Then, when you go away from your computer, the SETI program starts up. It uses your computer to help with the data computing and contribute to the large project of finding ET life! Already, SETI has a lot of regular people using their screensavers. They estimate that in 2 years the program will be able to scan the entire skies 3x! By this time, they will be able to upgrade to more advanced telescopes and there will likely be more people using the SETI screensaver to compute the information.
The SETI researchers have done a good job of planning just about every aspect of their project. For example, the data computed by your computer with the SETI screensaver is only sent back to SETI once it is fully computed. The screensaver only sends the data once you approve to connect to SETI, which means users have complete control. The SETI screensaver also doesn’t deal with a lot of info at once so you don’t have to worry about burning out your computer.
Aside from helping with the SETI project, users will get a really cool free screensaver. The SETI screensaver looks very sci-fi (except that this isn’t fiction!) with its rainbow of 3D graphics. It shows the data analysis process and info being recorded. I particularly love the frequency box which shows up in multi colors and looks stunning. You can sign up for SETI at their website http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/.
The internet is full of free screensavers that you can download to your computer. You may want to think twice before you download any free screensavers though because you could end up inviting a virus or other malware onto your computer! In 2006, a report from BBC found that the search term “free screensavers” was the most likely term to bring back links to types of malware. Over the past few years, screensavers haven’t gotten any safer. They don’t always have viruses but you can usually count on some adware to slow down your computer and bother you.
The reason that screensavers are so risky is because people knowingly accept them – even if their antivirus program gives a warning along the lines that it could be dangerous to open files from unknown sources. Also, screensavers often use the .scr file suffix which is more likely to get overlooked by antivirus programs than other suffixes.
So you want a new screensaver – ideally one that is free? Don’t worry. There are some precautionary methods you can use to prevent free screensavers from bringing malware to your computer.
The first thing you will want to do is avoid any free screensavers which just seem fishy. These are the ones that have virtually no text or the text is written in very poor English. At the bottom of the webpage offering the free screensavers, look for copyright information and a date. The longer the site has been on the net, the less likely it is to be a source of malware. Also, make sure that the site has at least some basic information.
Keep in mind that websites offering free screensavers have to make money somehow. They usually do this by putting ads on their websites. If there aren’t any ads, then you can wonder how they are making their money – and it could be from packing adware into the screensaver. Avoid any sites which offer something for free without expecting anything in return, like your attention to some ads.
Before you download any free screensaver, you should type the name of the screensaver into a search and see what comments come up. Usually the screensavers with malware will immediately bring up angry comments from people who have had to deal with them. Another way to avoid malware when downloading free screensavers is to read screensaver reviews. These reviewed products are usually a lot more reputable and this will also help you find some of the coolest screensavers. Before downloading screensavers, you will also want to make sure your firewall is turned on and that your antivirus, antimalware programs are up to date so, in case you do get malware from your free screensaver, you can attack it before it gets loose.