Usually when people think of screensavers, they think of what they saw on old computers at school or in libraries, displaying three-dimensional text with a boring font bouncing around within the boundaries of an invisible cube. Most modern computers, especially those running, say, Windows 8, have screensavers disabled by default, and most people don’t bother to use them in favor of simple lock screens or simply turning the screen off.
Screensavers are called such because they were designed to prevent burn-in on older monitors, saving the screen from damage done by the computer being left on for a long amount of time. This usage of a screensaver has since long fallen (because of the prevalence of LED and LCD screens), so nowadays nobody really cares for screensavers at all. Screensavers aren’t completely dead, however, and should you be interested in having something useful, there’s actually plenty of nifty things you can do with a screensaver.
To give you an idea of what you can do with a screensaver when your computer is idle, we’ll be going through the six most useful screensavers I’ve found from around the web.
6. Flickr .Net Screensaver
Have a Flickr account?
With this screensaver you can have all the photos in your Flickr account automatically rotated through in a slide show for your viewing pleasure. Even if you aren’t, say, a professional photographer, this could be useful for those who want to have pictures taken with family and friends at memorable locations displayed whenever their computer is idle. After all, you can’t really go wrong with an idle screen that goes through your photos.
5. Wikipedia Screensaver
What better way to use your computer’s idle time than with a constant rotation of a vast amount of information about … everything?
The Wikipedia screensaver works by rendering various Wikipedia articles in full-screen, choosing random articles every sixty seconds by default, though adjustable if you change the screensaver’s settings. If nothing else, it’s a nice little diversion in the manner that Wikipedia itself is already a nice little diversion, fun and interesting if you like to read a lot of words about a lot of things.
Note: this installer FROM CNET has been checked for malware and none has been found. Let us know immediately if something comes up.
4. YoWindow Weather Screensaver
Some people watch weather channels, others visit websites or check on their phones, and some people use their … screensavers?
As the most popular weather screensaver, YoWindow features a beautiful art style for different times of day, weather conditions and seasons. The free version offers forecasts for the current day and next three, while the paid version offers forecasts up to nine days in advance, with the addition of more theme customization options, including photos of real-world locations. Beyond the simple utility of checking the weather, YoWindow has the added bonus of being aesthetically pleasing.
You know what’s useful? Science.
This screensaver is created with the goal of searching for extraterrestrial life by finding narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space, a phenomena that does not occur naturally and would therefore indicate alien technology. SETI@home passively uses your computing resources to analyze complex telescopic data, which, once completed by your computer, is routed back to them upon completion. If you dream while watching the stars, SETI@home may just help bring us a tiny bit closer to those dreams someday.
Likely the most popular entry on this list, Folding@home is dedicated to helping fight big-name diseases like cancer via an endless amount of protein-folding to better understand the process. This screensaver got a boost of popularity due to its compatibility with Playstation 3 (where the screenshot in question is from), and for the past decade or so has been used by nearly two hundred of thousand people worldwide to slowly but steadily helping humanity’s understanding of protein folding in advance.
In addition to the feel-good offered by helping out, Folding users can set up usernames, earn points, join teams and be ranked on world-wide leaderboards. Want to join a large community’s folding pool or make one of your own with your friends? With Folding@home, you can help the rest of humanity slowly push mountains – and one day, the fruits of our collective labor will be seen.
Weather, Wikipedia, crowdsourced computing … the last (but certainly not least) of the screensavers we’re going cover today is UsefulSaver.
UsefulSaver is a screensaver that shows a live feed of resource consumption, akin to Task Manager but active whenever your computer is left idle. Out of all the screensavers on the list, this one is the most purely utilitarian, though I would recommend changing the settings when you enable it. By default, there’s a text box dedicated to Bible quotes of all things. While you can use a custom .txt file of your own for quotes to be used with the screensaver, I prefer disabling them entirely, as the quotes aren’t really related to the screensaver itself or any of its functions.
Note: this installer from softonic has been checked for malware, and none has been found. Let us know immediately if something comes up.
What useful screensavers do you use if you still mess around with them? Sound off in the comments and tell us what we missed!