Get a Space Vortex Screen Saver from Time Machine Animation in Mac OS X

Jan 20, 2014 - 2 Comments

Do you remember the original Time Machine backup animation of the slowly spinning green galaxy vortex? Triggered when a user entered Time Machine for backups, backup file management, or restoring files, the original animation was a snazzy space rendering that sort of looked like entering into a spinning black hole, shooting out stars and space dust, like the screenshot shown here:

Green vortex Time Machine screen saver

You can have that awesome space vortex as your screen saver! The same artist who brought us that gorgeous iOS 7 inspired screen saver to the Mac has created another screen saver based on the elder Time Machine animation. It’s free, and you’ll get two versions; one that is simply the spinning vortex, and another that features an RSS reader flying around atop the vortex, similar to the RSS feed screen saver that existed on prior versions of Mac OS X. Want in? You’ll need to install them manually because they’re Quartz composer files, but that’s easy to do.

Installing the Time Machine Vortex Screen Savers

  1. Get the Time Machine screen saver free from here (look for the blue download button) and extract it
  2. Open a new Finder window and hit Command+Shift+G to bring up ‘Go To Folder’, then enter the following path (if the path does not exist in Mavericks, you can create it yourself from the user Library folder):
  3. ~/Library/Screen Savers/

  4. Drag and drop both “Time Machine (RSS).qtz” and “Time Machine.qtz” into the ~/Library/Screen Savers/ directory
  5. Installing screen savers manually in OS X user library folder

  6. Pull down the  Apple menu and go to System Preferences, then select the panel for “Desktop & Screen Saver”
  7. Under the Screen Saver tab, scroll down to find the two new Time Machine options

The regular Time Machine screen saver is the background of what was seen when entering the Time Machine backup service to restore old files or to restore from backups in OS X, and there’s no configuration required for that one.

Set an RSS Feed for the Screen Saver

The RSS Time Machine screen saver lets you specify an RSS feed to use to give live updates on the screen from your favorite sites (like OSXDaily right?), here’s how to set our feed:

  1. In ‘Screen Saver’ choices, select the “Time Machine (RSS)” option
  2. Choose the “Screen Saver Options” button
  3. Click into the “Feed URL” field and clear out the existing text, replacing it with the following URL:
  4. http://osxdaily.com/feed/

  5. Click “Done” to set it

Customizing the RSS Feed for the vortex screen saver

You’re all set, click on “Preview” to see what it will look like, then pretend you’re in Star Trek or your favorite sci fi novel and enjoy the space travels when your screen saver turns on.

Vortex Time Machine RSS Screen Saver

When you’re out of the preview and in the actual screen saver, you can hit the numeric keys (1, 2, 3, etc) to open the accompanying RSS feed item in your default RSS reader, which is usually Safari. Otherwise, the stories will just spin through space in a rotating animation:

Time Machine RSS Screen Saver with stories spinning in a vortex

It’s probably worth mentioning that there continues to be a space animation for Time Machine, but the new version looks different than the green vortex shown here. The latest versions of OS X use an image that more like a purple nebula that doesn’t spin around, instead it’s more like traveling through a space scene from the Hubble telescope. It’s beautiful and fancy too, so perhaps BodySoulSpirit will make another version of the screen saver with the purple nebula animation too?

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Mac OS X

2 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    I like this but I think I would prefer the new animation

  2. inket says:

    Used it back in 2012 IIRC. The rendering is CPU-intensive and if your Mac is a laptop you don’t want this because:

    - It’ll make your Mac run hotter.
    - It’ll eat up battery life when unplugged.

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