Photo Screensaver for Your Mac

This screensaver, I call it ArtSaver, provides a "slide show" or "picture flow" of large image collections. It is mostly geared towards people who want to see their image collections as large as possible, with the information which images they are seeing at each moment. Also, it provides more control than Apple's built-in screensaver over exactly which images are displayed, and when and how the screensaver switches from one to the next. ArtSaver is also one of the few slideshow screen savers that you can use on a multiple monitor system so that you can see a different set of slides on each monitor, and with different options. (Here is also some praise in French, thanks to Jean Devriendt.)

Note that, by design, ArtSaver does not sport fancy visual effects, such as picture postcard, mosaic, or the like! It only offers still images, centered zooming in and out, and the Ken Burns effect (pan & zoom). The goal of ArtSaver is to present images such that you can enjoy them in their full glory.

Upfront, I should also say that ArtSaver cannot display photos managed by the Photos app of your Mac! I know this is a bummer, but, currently, I do not see a way to achieve this for technical reasons. (See below for workarounds.)

ArtSaver now comes in two different kinds: a screensaver proper (ArtSaver) and a stand-alone app (ArtSaverApp). The screensaver sits in your System Preferences and gets launched by macOS as usual. The app is launched by you manually.
Advantage of the screensaver: it can run simultaneaously on several monitors, even with different sets of images. Also, macOS locks your Mac for security, so you can let screensaver display your beautiful images unattended. (If you have switched the setting on in System Preferences - and you have, haven't you??)
Advantage of the stand-alone app: you can control the slideshow using the keyboard, such as pause or back to the previous image.

I am finalizing the new version for Catalina. You can download a beta version below.

Download and Installation

Here is a beta of the new version 3.1 of the screensaver, which runs on macOS Catalina (10.15).
And here is a beta of the stand-alone ArtSaverApp, which also runs on macOS Catalina (10.15).

Just unpack the ZIP file, then double-click on ArtSaver.saver. With the stand-alone app ArtSaverApp, you can just move it anywhere you want (~/Applications is a good place); you launch it like any other app.

Don't forget to go to System Preferences → Desktop & Screen Savers and select ArtSaver in the list on the left-hand side! Then click on Screen Saver Options and choose the folder of your images.

You can find older versions below, but YMMV.

In case ArtSaver acts funny (this might happen if you have an older version), please try to clear out any old settings/preferences. To do so:

  1. Go to Finder → Go → Go to folder ..
  2. Type in: ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/
  3. Delete any file beginning with de.zach.ArtSaver...

Some of ArtSaver's Features and Options

The Change Log at the bottom of this Readme explains the changes over previous versions and all features in great detail.

When you close the Options pane, ArtSaver recursively scans the directory tree containing the files, and saves the list of images in a database. This might take a while. After that, every time ArtSaver gets invoked, it will just read this list, and never has to go through the whole directory tree, which can be a huge time savings, if there are many images.


If you enjoy this screen saver, I would really appreciate a donation! (It would also keep me motivated to make further enhancements ;-) ) You can donate via Paypal or credit card.

Mailing List

If you would like to receive information about updates, you can sign up with the ArtSaver mailing list You will receive at most one mail per year on average.

Multiple Monitors

ArtSaverApp, the slide-show app, cannot run with multiple windows on multiple monitors natively. But, you can trick it into doing so. The details are described in the Manuel/Help of ArtSaverApp. What you can do that way shows this video:

Workarounds around the Photos Albums Problem

As I mentioned above, ArtSaver cannot access photos that are managed by the Photos app (or iPhotos). So, here are two workarounds, if not solutions.

The first option is to export all the photos to a folder, for instance ~/Pictures/My Photos. It could also be on an external drive. For instance, I have put all my photos onto a USB drive that I keep plugged into my Mac at all times (as kind of a memory expansion).
Here is how to do that:

  1. create an album for one year's worth of photos,
  2. control-click the album, select "Download Originals to this Mac",
  3. after a while, export all the photos of the album, include all info,
  4. continue with the next year.
I have to do it year by year, because I don't have enough free disk space to download all originals to my Mac. Also, you need to create a new album for every year. Of course, you can export all photos in one go, if all of them fit on your disk, or if you did not check "Optimize Mac Storage" in Photo's preferences.

The second option is to uncheck "Copy items to the Photos library" in Photo's preferences before you import your photos. That way they will stay on disk were they are, Photos will just reference them, and you won't double memory usage, because your photos will be stored only once on disk (in the original place).
So you can point ArtSaver to the folder where your originals reside and still organize them using Photos.
The downside might be that you should always remember that you never delete or reorganize that folder.

Feedback, Bug Reports, etc.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to send me an email at zach

Also, you can enter bug reports, requests for enhancement, etc., on ArtSaver's Github issues site.

Older Versions

ArtSaver 3.0.1 for Mojave (10.14).
ArtSaver 3.0.1 for El Capitan (macOS 10.11) and higher (hopefully).

ArtSaver 2.2 for Leopard (macOS 10.5; actually, at the time it was called Mac OS X).


Please notice that I have put ArtSaver under a copyright and license that basically says it's free for personal use but not for commercial use.

Gabriel Zachmann
Last modified: Wed Jul 01 23:26:18 CEST 2020