9 Free, Really Useful Screensavers

These 9 free screensavers do things other than look great.

Back in the day, screensavers were created to help prevent burn-in on monitors.
Most newer monitors don't need screensavers to do anything other than look good or be entertaining.

So why do we still love screensavers?
I suspect some of it has to do with flying toasters.
A long time ago (think Windows 3.1) a company created a screensaver package that included, among others, a flying toaster screensaver.

All of a sudden, looking at your monitor was fun.

Today its hard to find good, safe screensavers without a lot of searching.
Many screensavers contain more than just a screensaver in the program.
The additional content has been labeled spyware and worse.
Its good practice to check and recheck any screensavers you download, in particular from sites that have a lot of free screen savers.

Fried Beef's Tech blog has come up with 9 screensavers that are not only interesting, they do useful things.
One helps you learn geography, one grabs photos from Flickr, one helps you learn from Wikipedia, and one distributed computing screensaver helps cancer research.
Go have a look - you might want one or more of those screensavers for yourself.
Now if only the flying toasters would come back..............
 

9 Free Useful Screensavers

Most of the Screensavers run on some version of Windows, some have versions for Mac and/or Linux, some can be embedded in your as a .swf file, and one has a version for Playstation.
 

Signing off,
Rhiannon

 

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Comments

by dynamite00401 on 1. July 2013 - 1:38  (108867)

I absolutly love these.

by alexxx46 on 2. December 2011 - 18:05  (84291)

MyCorkboard s/saver is worth giving a try. Useful and simpatico.

by Pieter van Ooijen (not verified) on 31. March 2011 - 18:57  (69170)

There is a fantastic free 3d Solar Screensaver found on http://www.3dsolarsystem.com

Its build by Luke Wood and it shows our solar system in a perfect 3d view.

regards

by rhiannon on 1. April 2011 - 2:32  (69244)

@Pieter van Ooijen
That looks very interesting. It's great that you have the option to register or not register to download the program.
Rhiannon

by morrig on 25. June 2010 - 11:04  (53097)

Here's some 3D accelerated screensavers site-

http://www.reallyslick.com/

by Anonymous on 10. May 2010 - 18:51  (49484)

Screensavers can serve another function- a small percentage of them are compatible with desktop background apps. With the addition of transparency controllers [simplest is Vitrite] you can even, say, surf the net or write letters with your screensaver bleeding through the background...
[Yes, it's true, i have no life.]

Marinus

Skeleton walks into a bar, orders a beer and a mop.

by rhiannon on 11. May 2010 - 1:02  (49510)

@Marinus some will act as feed readers too.

by Anonymous on 31. March 2009 - 13:13  (18983)

Most of them uses the internet. But does the screensaver actually use a lot of broadband? Because I want a screensaver that's nice and usefull, but doesn't use too much broadband.

by Anonymous on 7. February 2009 - 17:08  (15567)

At work I use a screen saver to automatically lock my computer in case I step away for a few minutes and forget to lock it.

At home I use BlackTop - this sets my monitors to black and they go into power-saving mode instantly with ctl-alt-B. Download from softpedia or author's own web site: http://sdsoftware.org/default.asp?id=11277

by Anonymous on 7. February 2009 - 14:09  (15556)

Gizmo..
just want to say how really,really glad I am that I came across your site...it has helped me so much and I just want to thank you and your team for the truly excellent help you give to the layman in computing terms!!
God Bless and keep up the fantastic work!
Dee

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 22:43  (15357)

After Dark Games/Screensaver still available for XP

tigerheli.joymonkey.com/

Also checkout Retro Toast At:
UNEASYsilence is proud to announce the release of ToasterClone - the classic flying toasters screensaver raised from the ashes, recompiled, and redistributed for your own personal use.

uneasysilence.com/toast/

by rhiannon on 4. February 2009 - 22:56  (15361)

uneasysilence.com has a note on their site:
Currently download links are not enabled by request of Vivendi.

I don't know how long its been there, I downloaded the Windows version from there awhile ago.

Looks like they don't want those flying toasters escaping.

by BritSwedeGuy on 4. February 2009 - 16:14  (15317)

In the company I work at the screensavers do perform a function:
broadcasting annoying PR adverts into offices full of people who already work for the company,
heating up the offices,
increasing the company's energy bill,
reminding us just how useless senior management is.

by Rizar on 4. February 2009 - 20:48  (15352)

They have similar screensaver wasters at my college. They constantly tell students to change their passwords and not to use cell phones in the library.

Another option is the excellent and simple blank screensaver. My monitor takes a bit to load and it has a logo screen. The computer takes some time to wake from sleep mode. A simple blank or black-themed screensaver is temporary and wakes up more quickly. It gives me time to forget to do something and quickly get back to work.

Screensavers also allow you to set passwords if you need to, whereas turning off the monitor manually doesn't.

by Anonymous on 5. February 2009 - 18:38  (15424)

I don't think a screensaver per se is necessary for a timeout/login prompt, is it?

by Rizar on 5. February 2009 - 18:57  (15425)

Nope, just an extra option.

Though, I see in some of the stores that they sell screensaver like DVDs for people's TVs. Log fires, waves, fish, and all the calming influences of nature. So it seems some screensaver type productions have made it commercial. There is a nice aesthetic appeal to having screensavers too.

Aesthetics is an important purpose for many users, and screensavers fit well into that need.

For example, I see stores selling these picture slide show gadgets. They are really expensive and from my experience they flicker badly, load pictures slowly, and add/remove pictures in clumsy GUIs. But maybe I sampled a bad product.

You can easily have the same with a screensaver without such hassle and expense. And free if you already have a computer.

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 16:55  (15321)

you will buy the product that we make and sell...you will buy the product that we make and sell there are no alternatives on the market stay back...go back to your desk make more products for us to sell to you

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 15:25  (15313)

Nope, sorry. I still think screensavers have had their day. JUST TURN IT OFF.

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 15:01  (15308)

Just keep in mind that while screensavers used to prevent burn-in on monitors long time ago, they nowadays rather prevent energy saving mechanisms on your computer from doing their job, which means that they aren't really free, you pay for them via your electricity bill.

But it's our choice: Save the screen or save some money (plus a tiny contribution for saving the environment)...

Having said that, thanks for the link :)

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 17:02  (15323)

and with respect to the WIKI one...don't forget to take into account the extra energy it takes for the various data centers around the world to perform the searches in lightning fast time since multiple centers work the same request so we don't have to wait more than .012 seconds to have 288,000 results queued that we'll never actually be able to cull through without performing more searches to narrow down to what we really think we were looking for, only to discover the hard cover dictionary in the box under the stairs with an inch of dust laying on it could have provided the answer with a few flips of the page, thanks to that handy tabular function broken down by letters on the side.

by Anonymous on 10. January 2010 - 8:29  (40766)

Wow, that was the longest sentence I've read in a long time. My screen went black twice while reading it.

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 15:07  (15310)

Great point...and if you are energy conscious (and hopefully most are these days) you can always just turn off the monitor/screen, and let the volunteer app run in the background while you're away...really easy to do, just the press of a button, and one more when you're ready to get back on your machine.

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 14:45  (15305)

While I'm all for the volunteer use of computers for something for the better good, before you head off to arbitrarily choose one or even if you choose one that seems to be in line with your ideals, you may want to consider who's performing the research, who their big donors are, and who will ultimately benefit from the use of your free (for them) resource of CPU time. As for the protein folding, which can be utilized for some nefarious purposes in addition to all the good, will the research become public domain, or will 10,000 new patents be submitted for how various proteins un/fold themselves and interact with other substances. If so, who will benefit from those patents and the royalties and revenues they would be certain to bring. I'm guessing none of the volunteered resource holders would see a penny. I admit it, yes I am a bit cynical, but it's become a learned attribute out of necessity. But when DARPA, branches of the armed forces and private corporations are listed as involved or major contributors, it definitely activates the Spidey senses. I would therefor just urge a bit of consideration to whom or what cause you volunteer yourself or resources too. This would obviously apply to monetary donations to supposed non-profits or aid organizations as well. Okay, way too long already....

by Rizar on 4. February 2009 - 15:11  (15312)

It's not too long winded. You make some good points about the protein folding and health industry.

Many of the research projects used for BOINC were investigated by Berkeley researchers. Sometimes university researchers have a stake in the financial aspect of their work, but mainly they are in it for knowledge and science. The primary advancement tool for them is to publish, so goes the phrase "publish or perish." But it also helps when they bring money into the university, though these dollars are for the good of the university program.

This is probably why Berkeley posted a link to various research papers connected to the various BOINC projects, but the Stanford screensaver also has a list of papers:

http://boinc.berkeley.edu/wiki/Publications_by_BOINC_projects
http://folding.stanford.edu/English/Papers

Your concerns are also the reason I rate Charity Navigator or Guide Star so highly. It is important to investigate charities in case they have bad practices. I also suggest:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/
http://www.charitywatch.org/tips.html

I also like to investigate each of the websites with WOT to see if visitors have had problems with them, and I always check web bugs to see what the sites are using to track visitors.

Anyways, I'm not so sure that companies or researchers who get profit for their work are unworthy of support. I support both capitalism and the advancement of science!

But it probably would be best for university researchers to work independently of private companies to keep their mission for the advancement of learning and knowledge. I have no information as to how wealthy these researchers get from their projects, if at all.

Though some great thinkers of the past were not advocates of open and free knowledge such as the Pythagoreans, it was central to the message of Socrates. It seems Socrates lost out since, as many of us know, education itself is incredibly expensive (esp. in the U.S.; don't know about other countries).

Rizar

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 14:36  (15304)

ISTR that the flying toasters were first made famous on the Macintosh. I believe that they were part of a package called After Dark by Berkley Systems.

by Anonymous on 4. February 2009 - 14:21  (15302)

You didn't actually forget the name of After Dark, did you?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_Dark_(software)

by rhiannon on 4. February 2009 - 21:16  (15353)

No, I didn't forget it.....I still have After Dark CD's.

And yes, I do believe they were developed for the Macintosh - some kind soul(s) ported them over to Windows so the rest of us could have Flying Toasters.

by Anonymous on 10. January 2010 - 8:31  (40767)

CD's? I still have the floppies. You know those 5.25 inch things, that actually flopped?

by Rizar on 4. February 2009 - 4:27  (15281)

Thanks Rhiannon! You never fail us in getting great stuff. First a couple hundred free online classes a few days ago and now this!

As soon as I read it, the good old fashioned SETI@home project jumped into my mind and I thought that would be a perfect example of virtual volunteerism. Thanks for reminding me!

It looks like folder@home is a different screensaver/application created over at Stanford. It looks excellent, and I will be trying it and BOINC over the weekend probably.

I added the protein folding project over at my charity/volunteer article along with BOINC:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-volunteer-charity-donation-...

Rizar

by Rizar on 7. February 2009 - 19:23  (15568)

Update #1: I found that SETI@home like "screensavers" do not require any screensaver at all. BOINC is a project manager that runs in the tray and works independently from any screensaver. So you could volunteer in the BOINC projects without using a screensaver or using your favorite screensaver.

Also it might be untrue to say that the screensaver itself has anything to do with folding proteins, etc. It usually runs a manager that runs with or without screensavers.

The screensaver related to those projects are aesthetically appealing, they specially present information from the projects, but they do not start the project applications.

These sort of virtual volunteer options install specialized screensavers, but they are extra and irrelevant to volunteering to help.

I corrected this in the article I linked above.

Rizar

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