Set a Screensaver as Desktop Wallpaper in Mac OS X
Using a Terminal command, you can turn any screensaver into your background wallpaper. In the screenshot above I have the iTunes Album Art screensaver running as the Mac OS X desktop, but you can choose any screensaver you want. Here’s how to do this:
- Launch System Preferences
- Click on Desktop & Screen Saver and choose the screensaver you want to set as the background
- Open Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities/) and paste in the following command:
The above command needs to be on a single line in order to execute properly. If you’re having issues copying and pasting the above text, you can split it into two commands.
First change the directory:
Then execute the screensaver command:
If you split the command into two, there is a period before the second part, so don’t miss that. Stopping the screensaver is just a matter of hitting Control+Z, although you can set the process to run on it’s own by adding an ampersand (&) to the end of the last command too.
The screensaver will take a few seconds and load as the desktop wallpaper. This ends up giving your Mac an effect similar to Android OS’s living wallpapers (you can get living wallpapers on iPhone too but you have to jailbreak).
Most screensavers won’t use too much CPU, in testing they generally run between 4-12% although Arabesque spiked as high as 40% at times. Regardless, running a screensaver in the background isn’t a good idea if you’re trying to preserve battery life or you need CPU power for something else.
This trick is a bit of an oldie but goodie, but I still use it from time to time for the eyecandy. One of the more pleasantly subtle backgrounds to use this with are the image based screensavers like Beach or Forest, or you can create one with your own pictures, the effect is a moving background that pans and uses the “Ken Burns” effect over the images.