Screensavers – Best Of

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Long, long time ago screensavers have been used to prevent the so-called screen-burn-effect1 — a permanent disfigurement of areas on a CRT display caused by non-moving text or graphics being displayed continuously for long periods of time. To avoid this effect, screen savers have been used to blank the screen or fill it with moving images or patterns when the computer was not in use. Today, screensavers don’t serve their original purpose and are primarily used for entertainment.

In fact, we don’t need screensavers any more, however we tend to use them as eye-candy for our coffee breaks. Particularly complex and colourful 3D-screensavers are extremely nice to look at. But also if you’d like to lift your spirit with some calm and relaxing animations screensavers can definitely be just what you are looking for.

However, if you are tired of the default screensavers brought to you by your OS you might start searching for the fresh ones in the Web. And you’ll quickly find out: the choice is enormous; freeware is usually supplied with adware, and there are literally thousands of commercial solutions. What screensaver to choose? Most companies have limited demo- and shareware-versions, but they are almost always rather disturbing than helpful and will only get on your nerves.

In fact, there are only few pearls – amazing screensavers you’d be really ready to pay for once you’ve tested them. We’ve downloaded and installed a hell of a lot of them, we’ve had many problems (mostly adware) with them, but in the end we’ve tested all of them. And we’ve selected the most beautiful, interesting and unusual screensavers for you. Among them Flickr-, RSS- and time-screensavers – in the overview below both free and commercial solutions are presented.

Please notice:

  • in the overview below you won’t find enormous screensaver collections such as Screensaver.com (10 points for the first user mentioning this site in our comments). We’ve also tried to avoid sites filled with advertisements, pop-ups and hidden ad blocks. We also ignored cheap “discount screensaver providers” — mostly they offer just image galleries, and not real screensavers;
  • screensavers are executable programs. Therefore: caution, Windows-users! We’ve tested the software presented below, still: use them at your own risk.
  • some screensavers don’t work properly on dual-monitors;
  • you might also be interested in Selected Wallpapers For Your Desktop2 we’ve presented few weeks ago.

Selected Screensavers For Your Desktop

PolarClock3
An elegant clock and calendar screensaver in which the circles move as the time passes – based on polar coordinates. Available in 28 languages, with a number of options such as text alignment, font size, arc properties, continuous / stepped motion (continuous was requested a lot, so that you can see a minute slowly stretching each second to become the next minute etc), appearance, colors etc. A screen saver for Mac and Windows, and also as a dashboard widget for Mac OS X Tiger.

Screenshot4

Twingly5
Twingly screensaver is visualizing the global blog activity in real time. Forget RSS readers where you see only what you’re interested in. With Twingly screensaver you get a 24/7 stream of all (viewer discretion advised) blog activity, straight to your screen. Windows. Unfortunately testing didn’t work properly.

Screenshot6

UniqLock7 – Music.Dance.Clock
Japanese girls dance focusing your attention away from the passing time. Probably one of the strangest — unique — screensavers out there.

Uniqlock8
Uniqlock9

Quartz Composer10Preview11
Outstanding visualization and visual effects in use. Screensaver for Mac OS X only.

Quartz Composer12

Worldclock13
World Clock Screen Saver shows your local time on its big central clock and adds five major time zones (Los Angeles, New York, London, Dubai and Tokyo) on smaller clocks placed around it.

Screenshot14

Mapped Up15
MappedUp tracks a large number of RSS news sources and displays their latest items on a world map, geographically and in real-time. You can personalize the tool by setting the tags and specific RSS feeds you want to see on your MappedUp (registration is required16). And of course, you can download MappedUp17 as a screensaver, widget or active desktop — for Windows or Mac OS X.

Mapped Up18

Kuler Screensaver19
Excellent inspiration for a coffee break: the tool reads Kuler20‘s RSS feed, extracts the data and presents color schemes on your desktop. You can choose between displaying the highest rated, most popular or newest color schemes. It’s also possible to select the color schemes by hex-code and tags. For Mac OS X only.

Kuler Screensaver21

UniveRSS22
UniveRSS is a 3D RSS feed reader for Windows Vista. It introduces a full-screen 3D universe where galaxies represent the folders of your RSS feed directory, and the stars are represented by the spinning cubes that hold the feed information. Size and position of the feed cubes indicate how many unread items they contain. RSS feeds are represented as 3D cubes spinning in a universe.

UniveRSS23
UniveRSS24
Source25, Source26

RSS Saver27
This free screensaver presents the excerpts of predefined RSS feeds in a 3D view. The text approaches you and passes away after 15 seconds. Unfortunately, the speed of displayed news can’t be changed.

RSS Saver28

Tiger RSS Screensaver29
RSS Saver for Mac OS X. Apple’s Tiger RSS Screensavers are pretty cool, but Apple news are often quite boring. So why not make your own for your obviously favorite website? With Tiger’s Quartz Composer, you can make both standalone RSS applications and Screensavers which ends up being really useful or at least handy if you’re an RSS junkie.

RSS Screensaver30

Seti@Home31
Yes, the project still exists. SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a screensaver that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data. SETI@Home is currently the largest distributed computing effort with over 3 million users.

Seti@Home32

Grid-Based Clock Screensaver33
The screensaver fills rectangles as the time passes.

Grid-Based Clock34

Electric Sheep35
A widely famous and versatile screensaver. Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary Windows or Mac. When these computers "sleep", the screensaver comes up and the computers communicate with each other via Web to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep". The result is a collective "android dream", an homage to Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. You can also design your own sheep.

Screenshot36

Really Slick Screensavers37
A collection of 10 colorful 3D OpenGL screensavers for Windows. Some of some have been ported to Linux and Mac OS. Including Skyrocket, an interesting fireworks-simulation.

Screenshot38
Solarwind
Screenshot39
Skyrocket

System 4740
A Star Trek LCARS Screen Saver. Windows/Mac. LCARS is an acronym for "Library Computer Access and Retrieval System", which is the primary computer system in the universe of Star Trek’s Starfleet and Federation. The Saver runs on Dual-Systems with a different view on each monitor. And there is also Sound.

Screenshot41

BlueScreen Screen Saver42
Bluescreen is a screen saver that not only authentically mimics a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), but will simulate startup screens seen during a system boot. Available for all Windows versions except Vista. This could be extremely irritating, watch carefully. An analog solution for Mac OS XKernel Panic Screensaver43.

Blue Screen Of Death Screensaver44
Kernel Panic Screensaver45

FoxSaver46
This one is a little different. It’s a Picture Gallery running directly in Firefox. Use FoxSaver photos, Media RSS-Feeds or your own Pictures. There is a FullScreen mode if FireFox is maximized.

Fenêtre volantes47
Fenêtre volantes puts your windows in flight. After some idle time the windows take off the screen and flutter in the void. On a mouse move, the windows immediately come back and stuck to their original position. Freeware, for Mac OS X only.

Fenêtre volantes48

Strange Pet49
Funny kids screen saver from cbc.ca

Screenshot50

Flurry51
This is a port to Windows of Flurry, a beautiful screen saver for Mac OS X. Site looks odd and old-fashioned, but who cares?

Screenshot52

Holding Pattern Coach Class53
Looking out from a window on the plane. There is also a first class saver with 57 aerial views, but you have to pay $17.50 for your luxury viewing experience. Windows and Mac.

Screenshot54

Fireflies55
A pretty one using OpenGL for 3D acceleration. Windows, Linux, Mac.

Screenshot56

Wishlight Screen Saver V1.057

Screenshot58

Briblo59
Amazing constructions are developed with LEGO-bricks — right on your personal desktop. Windows and Mac OS.

Screenshot60

Fliqlo61
Need a watch? Same source as above. Windows and Mac OS.

Screenshot62

SaverBeans Screensaver Pack63
This is a collection of over 30 open-source screensavers, submitted by members of the Java community. The screensavers were developed using the SaverBeans SDK, part of the JDIC project.
Win/Unix.

Screenshot64
This one is called "ranpix"

breveCreatures Screensaver65
A screensaver that simulates the evolution of virtual creatures in a physically simulated 3D world. Beginning initially with random creatures, the screensaver uses a genetic algorithm to develop creatures capable of realistic locomotion behaviors. Windows and Mac.

Screenshot66

Drempels psychotherapeutic Screensaver 67
Drempels makes colorful, swirling, hallucinogenic patterns that resemble a hurricane or tornado.

Screensavers To Buy

The choice of commercial screensavers is huge – and probably even greater than you thought it is. 3D-Screensavers seem to be quite popular, just as fish-, sea- and aquarius-themes. Please notice that we haven’t bought all of these screensavers to test them; we’ve simply selected the most clean and interesting ones.

  • Kaze to Desktop68
    “Kaze to Desktop” is a screensaver which moves according to the current wind (=kaze) conditions of your city. Free to try, $8.00 to Buy. Windows only.

    Kaze Screensaver69
  • Sim Aquarium 270
    Sim Aquarium screensaver brings the coral reef aquarium to your computer screen. Its photo-realistic graphics recreate 3D fish swimming freely in a 3D environment, including a reef, with live clams and swaying sea life.
    Screenshot71
  • Solar System Screensavers
    Solar System Screensaver with photo-realisitic plasma effects, floating through planets, constellations and satellites and outstanding space effects. Caution: Ads and Adware!

    ScreenshotScreenshot

  • Dream Aquarium72
    An aquarium screensaver that “brings the beauty of a lush freshwater aquarium to your computer with unsurpassed realism”. Including photo-realistic effects.
    Screenshot73
  • 3PlaneSoft Screensavers74
    Over 30 various screensavers such as 3D realistic medieval clock tower, 3D screensaver of a submarine and the underwater world and a screensaver with the 3D model of Spanish Galleon, but also Fantasy and Halloween screensavers.
  • Astro Gemini75
    Dozens of 3D screensavers of different kinds – Halloween, Christmas, Marine Life, Nature, Holidays, Fantasy, Space – everything you’ll ever need.
  • Useless Creations76
    A growing and constantly updated collection of screensavers. Germany celebrates Oktoberfest…
    Oktoberfest Screensaver77
  • Fire Screensaver78
    Fire Screensaver sets the desktop on fire. Quite an interesting effect. The free test version can be download via the link at the bottom of the page. Caution: adware, the tool tries to install ad software as well.
  • Majestic Lighthouse 79
    Pretty one. This living sea-scene is fully animated with shiny water, seagulls and some rays coming from the lighthouse. It costs $19.
    Screenshot80

Flickr Screensavers

  • Clockr81
    Clockr uses random digit images from Flickr to display the current time.

    Clockr82
  • Loopy83
    The most interesting part of Loopy is that we can randomly see the newest pictures which people all over the world uploaded and if you want to check them more, just click the thumbnails and go to Flickr’s pages.
    Loopy84
  • slickr-dotnet85
    Flickr screen saver that shows images by Users, Tags, Favorites etc.
  • Flickr.Net Screensaver86
    Requires Windows XP with .NET.

Other Collections

  • The Top Ten OS X Screensavers87
    Screensavers have become, in a way, a relic. That having been said, they’re still enormously popular, even built-in to Mac OS X. All screenshots are top notch in coolness, quirkiness, or the relaxation factor, and ultimately gathered through what probably amounts to many hours of screensaver crawling.

    Screenshot88
  • XScreenSaver89
    A collection of free screen savers for X11 and MacOS. Including some very old stuff. A classic.

    Screenshot90

Make Yourself A Personal Screensaver!

  • InstantStorm91
    InstantStorm is a Windows freeware tool for creating Flash based screensavers with many advanced features. All you have to do is to choose a SWF file, set screensaver parameters and compile an executable installer. There are no nag screens or other annoying stuff. Unlike many other tools, InstantStorm allows you to fully customize your screensaver’s about box, installer and uninstaller including all texts.
    Instantstorm92

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.widescreengamer.com/articles/lcd_image_screen_burn_on_dell_2005fpw.html
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/09/21/selected-wallpapers-for-your-desktop/
  3. 3
  4. 4 http://blog.pixelbreaker.com/polarclock/
  5. 5 http://twingly.se/ScreenSaver.aspx
  6. 6 http://twingly.se/ScreenSaver.aspx
  7. 7 http://www.uniqlo.jp/uniqlock/
  8. 8 http://www.uniqlo.jp/uniqlock/
  9. 9 http://www.uniqlo.jp/uniqlock/
  10. 10 http://www.zugakousaku.com/index.php?m=project&id=quartz&s=sample&p=34_Kaboku&l=en
  11. 11 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z6aH0enaKQ
  12. 12 http://www.zugakousaku.com/index.php?m=project&id=quartz&s=sample&p=34_Kaboku&l=en
  13. 13 http://www.xemico.com/fssb/worldclock/index.html
  14. 14 http://www.xemico.com/fssb/worldclock/index.html
  15. 15 http://www.mappedup.com/
  16. 16 http://www.mappedup.com/account/
  17. 17 http://www.mappedup.com/download/
  18. 18 http://www.mappedup.com/
  19. 19 http://www.video-flash.de/index.php/kuler-screensaver-fur-mac-os-x
  20. 20 http://kuler.adobe.com/
  21. 21 http://www.video-flash.de/index.php/kuler-screensaver-fur-mac-os-x
  22. 22 http://www.microsoft.com/emea/msdn/thepanel/featured/universs.aspx
  23. 23 http://www.microsoft.com/emea/msdn/thepanel/featured/universs.aspx
  24. 24 http://www.microsoft.com/emea/msdn/thepanel/featured/universs.aspx
  25. 25 http://open.typepad.com/open/WindowsLiveWriter/UniveRSSGetyourRSSfeedsinglorious3D_77BF/clip_image001%5B1%5D%5B1%5D_1.png
  26. 26 http://jkontherun.blogs.com
  27. 27 http://rsssaver.com/2006/04/download.html
  28. 28 http://rsssaver.com/2006/04/download.html
  29. 29 http://www.engadget.com/2005/05/17/how-to-make-a-customized-rss-screensaver-in-tiger/
  30. 30 http://www.engadget.com/2005/05/17/how-to-make-a-customized-rss-screensaver-in-tiger/
  31. 31 http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/
  32. 32 http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/
  33. 33 http://www.wearebuild.com/app/webroot/temporary/grid-based-clock-screensaver/preview.html
  34. 34 http://www.wearebuild.com/app/webroot/temporary/grid-based-clock-screensaver/preview.html
  35. 35 http://electricsheep.org/
  36. 36 http://electricsheep.org/
  37. 37 http://www.reallyslick.com/
  38. 38 http://www.reallyslick.com/
  39. 39 http://www.reallyslick.com/
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42 http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Miscellaneous/BlueScreen.mspx
  43. 43 http://www.doomlaser.com/?p=12
  44. 44 http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Miscellaneous/BlueScreen.mspx
  45. 45 http://www.doomlaser.com/?p=12
  46. 46 https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5276
  47. 47 http://www.objective-cocoa.org/fenetresvolantes/en/index_en.html
  48. 48 http://www.objective-cocoa.org/fenetresvolantes/en/index_en.html
  49. 49 http://www.cbc.ca/kids/getStuff/
  50. 50
  51. 51 http://www.maddogsw.com/flurry/
  52. 52 http://www.maddogsw.com/flurry/
  53. 53 http://www.idletimesoftware.com/screensavers/
  54. 54 http://www.idletimesoftware.com/screensavers/
  55. 55 http://somewhere.fscked.org/fireflies/
  56. 56 http://somewhere.fscked.org/fireflies/
  57. 57 http://www.pixage.net/2007/05/12/wishlight-screen-saver-v10/
  58. 58 http://somewhere.fscked.org/fireflies/
  59. 59 http://www.9031.com/downloads/screensavers.html
  60. 60 http://www.9031.com/downloads/screensavers.html
  61. 61 http://www.9031.com/downloads/screensavers.html
  62. 62 http://www.9031.com/downloads/screensavers.html
  63. 63 https://screensavers.dev.java.net/
  64. 64 https://screensavers.dev.java.net/
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67 http://www.geisswerks.com/drempels/index.html
  68. 68 http://scr.sc/products/kazetodesktop/
  69. 69 http://scr.sc/products/kazetodesktop/
  70. 70 http://simaquarium.com/
  71. 71 http://simaquarium.com/
  72. 72 http://www.dreamaquarium.com/
  73. 73 http://www.allandbest.com/home.htm
  74. 74 http://www.3planesoft.com/index.html
  75. 75 http://www.astrogemini.com/
  76. 76 http://www.uselesscreations.com/
  77. 77 http://www.uselesscreations.com/
  78. 78 http://www.laconicsoftware.com/
  79. 79 http://jossphoto.com/showsshot.php?id=14
  80. 80 http://www.allandbest.com/home.htm
  81. 81 http://www.quasimondo.com/clockr.php
  82. 82 http://www.quasimondo.com/clockr.php
  83. 83 http://www.hottoast.org/archives/2005/08/flickrbased_end.html
  84. 84 http://www.hottoast.org/archives/2005/08/flickrbased_end.html
  85. 85 http://code.google.com/p/slickr-dotnet/
  86. 86 http://www.wackylabs.net/flickr/flickr-screensaver/
  87. 87 http://phillryu.com/2006/07/30/the-top-ten-os-x-screensavers/
  88. 88 http://phillryu.com/2006/07/30/the-top-ten-os-x-screensavers/
  89. 89 http://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/screenshots/
  90. 90 http://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/screenshots/
  91. 91 http://www.instantstorm.com/features/
  92. 92 http://www.instantstorm.com/features/

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Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy and publishing — all in German.

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  1. 1

    Necromantic1.0

    May 12, 2010 7:02 pm

    Aragon Systems – Maelstrom is a fantastic particle system screensaver

    0
  2. 102

    the best screen saver i have come across is g-force by sound spectrum.it’s been the only screen saver i’ve been running for the last 3 years.it a must see to belive,don’t take my word just check it out. it’s safe and never had any trouble with it.

    0
  3. 203

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH KIA BAKWAS HA…………..

    0
  4. 304

    Another free 3d screensaver/music visualizer worth a look is http://www.plane9.com it’s scene based so it “contains” over 70 screensavers. I’m the author so recommendation should be taken for what it is.

    0
    • 405

      actually I have to tell you…the original planestate still tops my instant bliss list, even after all these years.

      0
      • 506

        Thanks from the input. Most scenes from Planestate do exists in Plane9 but you have to deselect all others in the configuration windows. But I’ll see if I can’t add some more color full Planestate inspired scenes.

        0
  5. 607

    I think this screensaver’s pretty old, but I think it’s funky. All out 2D and pixelized, I think nothing could ever beat Johnny Castaway ;D

    2
  6. 708

    I found a website where i downloaded some cool aquarium screensavers in which you can tickle fish and feed fish.
    (http://www.digiaquascr.com)

    0
  7. 809

    Really interesting list. I am checking many of them.
    You may want to add the StarMessage screensaver as well ( starmessage.info ).
    It looks a bit old-fashioned but has an original idea behind. You write your name with the stars of the night sky.

    1
  8. 910

    Very Good Web Site

    0
  9. 1011

    All this talk of screensavers and not a single mention of After Dark. For shame! Flying Toasters FTW!

    0
  10. 1112

    Wondering if you can upload Rihanna Loud cant find it anywhere..

    0
  11. 1213

    all the best screensavers thankks alot

    0
  12. 1314

    Other good screensaver could be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm2SgjkYecM
    Simple and elegant!

    0

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