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How do I set my Mac OS X Desktop and Screen Saver Photos?

Wallpaper Settings for Mac OSX

Using wallpaper photos on a Mac is quite easy. This tutorial shows you how to get set-up in just a few minutes.

We assume you are using Mac OS 10.5. Even if you are using a different version of Mac OSX, the main concept has not changed since OS 10.1 first came out.

Create a Wallpaper Folder

The first thing you need to do is create a folder inside your Pictures folder called "Wallpaper" or "Screen Savers" or "Desktop Photos", or anything you want to call it.  This is where you will keep your pictures to be used as desktop wallpaper or screen savers.

Go to the Finder, and select File > New Folder (or hit Shift-Command-N).

Then rename the folder with a name that works for you. I personally use the name "Screensaver Photos."

Next, fill the folder with all the pictures you want to use as Desktop and Screen Saver photos on your computer. You can purchase them on this site in the Photo Wallpaper category, or subscribe to our Newsletter to get free ones every week.

Be sure to get the wallpaper size that works with your computer's screen resolution or aspect ratio (follow the instructions on the download page - we offer many different screen sizes). Once you download the images, place them in the folder you just created in the steps above. You can also put your personal photos in this folder to include them in your wallpaper photos.

Update System Preferences

Now it's time to put all those images to work. Open up your System Preferences panel by going to the Apple menu and selecting "System Preferences...".

This opens up the System Preferences panel.

Click on "Desktop and Screen Saver" to set your preferences.

Select the "Desktop" tab first to setup your wallpaper preferences.

Locate The Folder You Created

You will see the folder you already created in the list on the left of the panel.  You may need to untwirl the "Folders" arrow to see its contents.  The "Screensaver Photos" folder that I created earlier in my Pictures folder shows up here under "Folders."

Choose Your Fit

Open up the menu to select how you want your Mac to fit your wallpaper photos on your desktop.  This drop down menu is located in the center of the panel towards the top.

If you are using the proper size wallpaper photos for your screen resolution (easily found on this website), it won't matter too much if you choose "Fit to Screen", "Fill Screen", "Stretch to Fit Screen", "Center" or "Tile".

To be safe, I prefer "Fill Screen" because it allows the picture to cover the entire screen, even if it is not the right aspect ratio and some of it has to be cropped to accomplish this.  Aspect ratio is simply width divided by height, and tells you how square, tall, or narrow a rectangle is.

If your pictures are low resolution, you can try "Stretch to Fill Screen" to make them big enough to fill the screen.  Some pixelation may occur.

"Center" can also be used if your pictures are smaller than your screen (they will be positioned in the middle of your screen) but they will not be scaled bigger or smaller to fit the screen.

"Fit to Screen" will show the entire image with no cropping.  If the aspect ratio of the picture is not the same as your computer screen, you will get an extra border on two sides (top and bottom, or left and right) to make it fit.

Other Desktop Options

You can choose how often the desktop picture changes on your computer.  This is a great feature because it keeps new images on your screen all the time. Choose the option that works for you.  I like to change mine every 5 minutes.

Next, you can choose to have the images come up in a random order by checking this box.

You can also choose whether you want a translucent menu bar or an opaque, white, menu bar.  With the translucent menu bar, the desktop photo will be partially seen through the menu bar at the top of the screen.  Some people find that this makes it harder to read text in the menu bar, but most people enjoy the integrated look of the transparent menu bar.  You can turn this feature on or off by checking the box at the bottom of the System Preferences panel.  There are two screen shots below showing the difference between these two options.

You can put any pictures you like in your wallpaper or screen savers folder.  If you download images from this website you'll be able to get images that fit your screen size exactly.  Visit our Photo Wallpaper page now to get started. Start making your computer screen a source of beauty and inspiration today.

Screen Saver Settings for Mac OSX

You can use the same picture folder for both your desktop photos and your screen saver photos on your Mac. If have not set up a dedicated folder for this purpose, follow the instructions at the top of this page.

In this section, you will learn how to use the pictures in the folder you created to make a screen saver slide show when your computer is idle.

First, open System Preferences from the Apple menu.

This opens up the System Preferences panel.

Click on "Desktop and Screen Saver."

Select the tab for "Screen Saver."

Select Your Screen Saver Folder

Open the "Pictures" folder to find the folder you created to keep all your pictures for wallpaper and screen savers.

You will see the "Screensaver Photos" folder you created here. Select this folder.

You will see two checkboxes on the left side of the System Preferences panel.

"Use random screen saver" should be unchecked, unless you want to use the default OSX screen savers that came with the computer.

If this box is checked, you will see the screen savers, "Abstract," "Beach," "Cosmos," "Forest," "Nature Patterns," and "Paper Shadow" displayed one after another in a random order.  This option will not let you use the screen saver folder that contains your own pictures or pictures you download from toddsmithphotography.com.  

You should leave it unchecked to continue with the following setup.

The "Show with clock" checkbox will superimpose a digital clock (not shown here) on your screen whenever the screen savers are displayed.

There are several options for displaying pictures as screen savers: Slideshow, Collage, and Mosaic.

Slideshow Options

"Slideshow" displays one picture at a time. You can choose this option at the bottom right of the preview image.

When "Slideshow" is selected, you can choose from several options. Click the "Options" button to edit them.

You will see the following options.

"Present slides in random order" is a good option to choose.  If you do not check this box, your screen saver images will be shown in alphabetical order from the beginning every time your screen saver starts.

"Cross-fade between slides" is also a very nice option.  It creates a smooth, fading transition between each picture in the slideshow.

"Zoom back and forth" is also a nice effect, sometimes called the Ken Burns effect.   It makes the slides come to life, as if you are watching a movie instead of still images.

"Crop slides to fit on screen" is also a good option to choose.  This will make sure that you don't see any borders on your pictures, even if they do not have the same aspect ratio as your screen.  They will always fill the screen.

"Keep slides centered" is not necessary if you are using images that fit your computer screen.  If you are using small images, you may want to keep them centered using this option.

Collage Options

The next display option for screen savers is "Collage."

When "Collage" is selected, you can choose options by clicking on the "Options" button, just as you did for "Slideshow" above.

You will see the several options for "Collage."

"Presents slides in random order" is useful if you don't want your pictures to load in order every time in alphabetical order.

You can also choose to have your pictures annotated when they load.

This is more useful for personal pictures than for pictures from toddsmithphotography.com. You can choose to display the name and/or date below each image (they look like polaroid photos this way).

Mosaic Options

The "Mosaic" display option for screen savers only works if your pictures are in your iPhoto Library. It tiles the images together to make a moving screen saver.

Choose "Options" to set your preferences for "Mosaic."

You can decide how long for the computer to wait after you last touch it before the screen saver comes on. The slider at the bottom of the Preferences panel lets you control this.

Finally, you can set-up "Hot Corners" for your computer by clicking the button at the bottom left of the System Preferences panal.

This will open a panel allowing you to set any corner (in this case the upper left corner) as a "hot corner." When you move the cursor to the very top left of your screen, the screen saver will be activated without having to wait several minutes. This is great if you want to display a quick slideshow to your friends.

You can set other options for the hot corners, and you can use all four corners if you like for different purposes, such as displaying all windows, application windows, desktop or dashboard.

You can also use a hot corner to disable the screen saver in case you want to work for a while without touching the computer (like when you are watching a movie). This prevents the screen saver from coming on and interrupting your movie.

Once you set up your preferences you can keep adding new images to your screen saver folder. You will never get bored with our constant supply of new images at toddsmithphotography.com. Get beautiful screen savers today in the Photo Wallpaper section of this site. Your computer will be a source of beauty and inspiration for you and everyone around you.