Find out how to create personalised screensavers in Windows 7, Vista and XP
Screensavers are programs that can display moving images, patterns or text on your computer’s display when it is switched on but not being used. They are a fun and easy way to add personality to a PC, and prevent the damage that can be caused if the same image is displayed for a long time (this is not a big problem with LCD monitors, but it can still happen).
Although some websites offer free or paid-for screensavers, Windows’ own built-in screensavers are surprisingly good. In this article we will show you how easy it is to create beautiful slideshow screensavers using your own photo collection in Windows XP, Vista or 7, without paying a penny.
The various versions of Windows handle screensavers differently, so we are dedicating a section to each. If you use Windows 7 or Vista, scroll down this page to find the relevant section, while XP users can start here.
XP has a selection of 11 screensavers, one of which is the My Pictures Slideshow. By default, this takes any images found in the My Pictures folder and displays them as a slideshow. Although it has quite limited options compared to Vista or Windows 7 (it doesn’t support video clips, for example), it can still generate a very attractive display if it’s configured correctly.
To set it up, right-click on an empty portion of the Windows Desktop and choose Properties (alternatively, click Start, then Control Panel, then double-click the Display icon). If you click the Screensaver tab there is a small picture of a monitor showing a preview of the current screensaver (if one is enabled).
Beneath this is a dropdown menu labelled ‘Screen Saver’. If you click the down arrow just to the right of this a list of available screensavers appears – choose ‘My Pictures Slideshow’. To configure the options, click the button marked Settings.
The top slider on the Settings page is fairly self-explanatory, and lets you change the amount of time each photo is displayed on the screen. Move the slider to the right to increase the time, or to the left to decrease it.
Below this slider is another one that sets how big the pictures should be relative to the screen – this can be set at anything from 25-100 per cent. When a small size is chosen, each picture is opened in a different place on the screen, adding to the variety of the slideshow.
If you don’t store pictures in the My Pictures folder, or you just want to use pictures in one particular folder, click the Browse button and navigate to the folder where your photos are stored. One good idea is to create a new folder called ‘Screensaver’ and copy all the pictures you want to use into it – then you can edit the slideshow pictures to tidy them up, with no risk of damaging the originals.
There are four extra tick-box options in the lower part of the Settings menu. ‘Stretch small pictures’ resizes all pictures to make them the same size on the screen, but if the image is not big enough it will look pixellated (it doesn’t alter the originals, though).
‘Show filenames’ isn’t very useful, and can make the pictures look messy, so we would recommend leaving this unticked. ‘Use transition effects between pictures’ adds random transition effects between pictures, which adds a little more variation. You can’t control which effects are used, however.
Finally, ticking the bottom box labelled ‘Allow scrolling through pictures with the keyboard’ lets you use the left and right arrow keys to move immediately between pictures, rather than having to wait for the next one to appear.
When you have configured all the options, click OK to save them. Click the Preview button to see what the slideshow will look like (stop the Preview by moving the mouse or pressing any key).
When you are happy with the settings, you can adjust the amount of time before the screensaver starts by changing the ‘Wait’ number on the main Screensaver tab. Optionally, you can add a password by ticking the ‘On resume, password protect’ box, although this only works if you use a password to log on to Windows. Click OK to close the Display Properties box when you are done.
If you want to be able to start the screensaver instantly, press Start, click Search, then click ‘All files and folders’. In the top box, type *.scr and click Search. After a few moments a list of files will appear – find the one called ‘ssmypics’, right-click it, choose ‘Send to...’ and select ‘Desktop (create shortcut)’. A shortcut will appear on the desktop labelled ‘Shortcut to ssmypics’. Double-click this to start the screensaver.
Updating your subscription status