What size screen savers do you need?

by Todd Smith on February 18, 2009

I’m in the process of redoing my website and the question comes up today: What size screen savers should I offer?

Currently the size I include in my newsletters is 1440 x 960 px. I’m considering offering different sizes, if it is helpful to you.

My computer (mac) will automatically adjust the size of my screen savers to fit the screen. There is no issue about size, as long as the picture is not too small (which could cause pixelation).

How about you? Do you need a specific size screen saver or does your computer adjust things automatically for you?

I’m not so familiar with Windows. If you’re on Windows, let me know how it works for you. I want the screen savers from my website to be as valuable as possible for you.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Whiddon-Brown February 23, 2009 at 3:02 am

I have thoughts on this! (Wonder why. Hmmm…) ;)

Okay, so Windows works the same way as your Mac, in that it will automatically adjust the size of the pic to fit the desktop. So, basically, you just need to provide a pic that’s big enough for most monitors.

The real issue as I see is whether you’d like to offer a standard version along with a widescreen size. If you just offer one or the other, it will still adjust to fit the size of the monitor, but that will be skewing your photography. Would that bother you? Or would it not skew it enough to matter?

As for sizes, I’m not familiar with 1440×960, although that sounds really close to the standard widescreen size of 1440×900. That’s the resolution on my laptop. My desktop is a 22″ widescreen, and that’s set at 1680×1050, although that’s probably overkill. There’s no reason to exhaust your bandwidth by providing really huge screen savers. For standard monitors, I think that 1280×1024 is the most commonm and that should easily adjust down to 1024×768 if they have an older monitor.

Does that help? What are your thought? Feel free to email me if you’d like. Btw, I so love the desktops. Keep up the beautiful work!

Diane Whiddon-Brown´s last blog post..Are Online Friends really “Friends”?

Todd Smith February 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Oh, this great, Diane. Your point about skewing the photographing is a good one. I would much rather have cropping than distortion. Does Windows distort by default to fit the screen? Mac maintains the aspect ratio (no distortion) but clips the edges if they are too long. Should I be doing that manually for Windows users to avoid the skewing you mentioned?

1440×960 is a size I came up with based on a 1440 px wide monitor. I let the height fall to 960, which is 2/3 of 1440, because it shows the whole picture as it came out of my camera. I can crop down to 1440 x 900, or any size, if we can avoid distortion.

Here’s what I’m seeing with the screen resolutions you mentioned above: they are all different aspect ratios (width divided by hight): 1440×900 has an aspect ratio of 1.6, and 1680×1050 has an aspect ratio of 1.6, but 1280×1024 has an aspect ratio of 1.25 (more square), and 1024×768 has an aspect ratio of 1.33 (a little less square). By comparison, the size I have been using 1440x 960 has an aspect ratio of 1.5.

So for the first two screens you mentioned (1440×900 and 1680×1050) my 1440×960 images will be cropped on top and bottom to make the image longer from left to right. For the other two sizes you mentioned (1280×1024 and 1024×768) my 1440×960 images will be cropped on the left and right leaving a more square image.

But I’m assuming that Windows will crop the extra space. It sounds like from you that it does not crop, but distorts the picture to fit the screen. That’s what I want to avoid. Maybe I should find out what all the standard aspect ratios for screen resolution are and make several versions of the screen savers to accommodate this. What do you think? I have seen other sites offering different sizes of screen savers… maybe this is the reason they do it.

Let me know if I’m getting anywhere here. Thanks

Todd Smith´s last blog post..A visit to the Stone Carver’s Yard

Diane Whiddon-Brown February 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

Yep, Windows doesn’t crop. You have two choices when you’re uploading an image. You can either, 1) Stretch the image to fit, and Windows will adjust it to fit your screen, without maintaining the aspect ration, or you can select 2) Center, which will simply place the image, in its entirety, in the middle of the screen and leave it, and anything that falls off the edges just falls off.

The problem being, of course, is that if you offer a beatiful, but high-res 1280×1024, and someone has a 1024 x 768 monitor, they’ll only see the middle of the photo.

So, do you offer both of those sizes, plus the also standard, but slightly (for whatever reason) less popular 1280×960? And then offer a few widescreen sizes on top of that? It starts to get crazy. I’ve wrestled with this before.

And then of course is the next question: even if you concern yourself with offering a bunch of different sizes, what’s the ROI? How many people out there really know what resolution their screen is set to? And how many of those people care? I think that most people probably only know if they have a widescreen or not.

It occurs to me that this might be a good question for Twitter. There have got to be more people out there who know a ton about this.

Diane Whiddon-Brown´s last blog post..Are Online Friends really “Friends”?

Todd Smith February 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Wow, that really is a limitation! On the mac, as far as I can tell, it crops and stretches or shrinks according to the need, and it always maintains the aspect ratio when stretching or shrinking (so you don’t get skewed pictures).

With Windows, I have to get to know the common screen resolutions so I can offer versions of the wallpaper photos that don’t run into problems like you described above.

Once I understand all this, I’m happy to educate my customers so they can find out what their screen resolution is and which screen saver size to choose. It may be too much trouble for some people, but I think I should at least give them the possibility of getting the right size for their screen.

I agree, this would be a great Twitter question. I’m going to send out a tweet about it. I’m also going to google “common screen resolutions” or something like that and see what I can learn. Thanks again for your help, Diane!

Todd Smith´s last blog post..A visit to the Stone Carver’s Yard

Todd Smith February 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I just spent an hour googling wallpaper sizes and screen resolutions.

Boy is there a lot of screen resolutions! Most of them fall in the 4:3 ratio (1.333). Then there are the widescreens (1.6 ratio). And there are even dual monitor resolutions (up to 2.666 ratio). Oh, and don’t forget iPhone, iPod and PSP.

I also found a cool 2-line javascript which you can add to your web page which will tell your viewers what is the screen resolution for the computer they are using. I definitely plan to use this script on my new site (use between script tags where you want to insert):

document.write(“Your resolution is “+screen.width+”x”+screen.height);

Here are the sizes I’m seeing the most…

1.333 aspect ratio (4:3)

640 x 480
800 x 600
1024 x 768
1280 x 960
1600 x 1200
1920 x 1440

1.25 aspect ratio:

1280 x 1024

1.6 aspect ratio (widescreen):

1280 x 800
1440 x 900
1680 x 1050
1920 x 1200
2560 x 1600

1.7 aspect ratio (HDTV):

1280 x 720
1600 x 900
1920 x 1080

2.5 or 2.666 aspect ratio (Dual Monitor):

2560 x 1024
3200 x 1200

iPhone : 320 x 480
iPod: 320 x 240
PHP: 480 x 272

That’s a lot of sizes. I am now looking at creating an action in Photoshop to crop images to these various sizes. I also read that it may not be necessary to do all of them. I read somewhere that if you use a 1024 x 768 image on a computer with a screen resolution of 800 x 600, the image will scale (or shrink) to fit. Since both the image and the screen have an aspect ratio of 1.333, there will be no distortion.

Is that true? Do I need to offer only one image for each aspect ratio? I don’t see other wallpaper sellers doing that. In fact, I often see a long list of available sizes. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Todd Smith´s last blog post..A visit to the Stone Carver’s Yard

Diane Whiddon-Brown February 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Omigosh, you are so awesome. I tell you, what totally has exhausted me in the past, you just jumped right into with a smile.

“Once I understand all this, I’m happy to educate my customers so they can find out what their screen resolution is and which screen saver size to choose. ” That AND all the work for each one? I just adore you. What a generous, open spirit you’ve got. Makes it nice to be around you.

Okay, so yeah, there’s a lot. But you’re right, you only need one size for each aspect ratio. As long as it’s a pretty big one, when Windows smooshes it down to fit the screen, it will still be the same shape. I think that maybe the reason that some places offer all different sizes is because they charge for their wallpapers, and the bigger ones cost more. So, if you only need a 600×800, you don’t have to pay for a 1024×768.

Also, they might not want to have to explain “aspect ratio” to their customers. Although, the Java line is a great idea. Then people can see right away what they’ve got. There’s probably also a really simple way to also include the aspect ratio in there. So, people could see what their screen res is, and underneath that, say something like, “This means that you screen saveer has xxxx aspect ratio, so you’ll need xxxx size screen saver below.” To make it clear. I could ask my DH about this, if you decide you’d like that.

Diane Whiddon-Brown´s last blog post..Are Online Friends really “Friends”?

Todd Smith February 25, 2009 at 1:27 am

What a great suggestion to calculate the aspect ratio for the customer! I just figured out how to change the script to do just that (don’t forget to put between script tags):

document.write(“Your screen resolution is “+screen.width+”x”+screen.height+”. Your screen’s aspect ratio is “+screen.width/screen.height.);

Now I can just make a larger version of each aspect ratio, which are only 9 (including iPod, iPhone and PHP). And I could leave out the Dual Monitor (we’ll see).

All my wallpaper / screen savers will be $0.99 (I’ll also sell them in sets, which will be 25% less than buying them individually), so I’m not worried about different sizes costing more or less. I think we’re really onto something now.

I just have to get things automated on the back-end so that it’s not too much trouble to make all the different sizes.

Todd Smith´s last blog post..What frame do you like on this print for a bathroom wall?

Diane Whiddon-Brown February 25, 2009 at 6:04 am

Yay! That’s awesome. I’m so glad it’s working out. Cool!

Diane Whiddon-Brown´s last blog post..Are Online Friends really “Friends”?

Todd Smith February 25, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Me too! Thanks for talking all this through with me. :)

Todd Smith´s last blog post..What frame do you like on this print for a bathroom wall?

Todd Smith March 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I just want to add one more tweak to the javascript code mentioned above. Some aspect ratios have recurring decimals, so to round the final answer to a two-decimal number, I’ve added the “round” function and multiplied the whole result by 100 and then divided it by 100:

document.write(“Your screen resolution is “+screen.width+”x”+screen.height+”. Your screen’s aspect ratio is “+Math.round(screen.width/screen.height*100)/100+”.”);

Of course, you need to wrap the code in an HTML script tag, but that’s the exact code I’m using on my site now.

Todd Smith´s last blog post..The blog is back and Todd Smith Photography has a new web design

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