Set your Mac screensaver as your desktop background

A Mac screensaver desktop tip: Hey, it's almost Friday -- wanna have some fun? How about setting your Mac OS X screensaver as your desktop background? If you set your Mac screensaver to something interesting, this can make for a very cool, animated desktop background.

I was just reminded of this Mac screensaver desktop background trick when updating my website and I ran across it again. Here's how to do it:

1) Open a Mac OS X Terminal

If you haven't done this before, don't worry, it's easy, at least for this case. Just click Applications, then the Utilities folder, then the Terminal application icon. You'll see a new Terminal window open, and you'll be at the Unix command prompt. (Again, this is a simple example, fear not.)

2) Start your Mac screensaver as your Mac OS X background

To start your Mac screensaver as your desktop background, just copy and paste this line of code into your Mac Terminal window:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background  

With that line of code in your Terminal window, just press [Enter], and like magic, your Mac screensaver is now running as your desktop background. (Or, if you copied and pasted a little too much, the screensaver may have started without having to hit the [Enter] key.)

How awesome is that?

To stop the desktop screensaver animation, just press the [Ctrl][c] command in the Terminal window. If you want to run the command again, just press the up-arrow key until you see that long command, and then press [Enter] again, and then press [Ctrl][c] to stop it again.

When you're finished, just close your Terminal window like any other Mac application (press [Command][Q] or select 'Quit' from the Terminal menu).

Saving the Mac screensaver desktop background command

If you're a savvy Unix user, you can also save this command as an alias so you can easily access it again. Just place a command like this in your .bash_profile file:

alias ss="/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &"

Then either (a) close your Terminal window an open a new one, or "source" your profile like this:

. ~/.bash_profile

(I took a few shortcuts there assuming you're not a Unix newbie. If you are a Unix newbie and want better instructions, just leave a note in the Comments section below, and I'll add more info.)

Mac screensaver desktop background summary

Usually I say "I hope this has been helpful", but today I'll say I hope this has been fun. As you can see, this Mac screensaver desktop background trick can indeed be a lot of fun!

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