Start Screen Saver With a Button

Normally, the screen saver starts after a period of inactivity, or when you use a Hot Corner. But you can also create a button in the Dock to start your screen saver with a click. This can be a handy way to quickly lock your Mac too.

Video Transcript
So let's say you want to quickly get to the Screen Saver. There's no really easy way to do that. There's no button in the Menu Bar or anything like that. You can go to System Preferences, click on Desktop and Screen Saver and then Screen Saver. You can preview it here but that's not what you really want to do. You want to actually go to Screen Saver mode just as if time had passed and it went there automatically.

The only way to do it that's kind of standard is use Hot Corners. So click on Hot Corners here in System Preferences and you can set one of the corners to start Screen Saver. Then you can move your cursor to that corner and Screen Saver starts.

Now if you combine this with your Security and Privacy settings to require password immediately then you can use that as a way to quickly lock your Mac. So you can instantly lock it. You can set it for five seconds to kind of instantly lock it but also protect yourself if you accidentally move the cursor there and you didn't mean to. You still have five seconds before you lock your computer and have to enter the password again.

But there's another way to do it too. If you want an actual button that you can press you can actually add something to the desktop. The way to do that is to go to a special location to find the Screen Saver app itself which is usually hidden from you.

So one way to get to this hidden location for the Screen Saver app is in the Finder here create a new Finder window and then use Go, and Go To Folder. This allows you to manually enter in a location. So the location we're going to go to is System/Library/CoreServices/ and just go into there. It will jump and you will see all these core services apps.

You want to be careful. You're in a system folder now.

What you want to do is look for the one just called Screen Saver engine. Right here. That's the actual app that is the screen saver. Now you could just double click on this and it would run the Screen Saver. But let's put is someplace useful. I'm going to drag it down into the Dock. You could put it there. Now I can close this window and never have to go back there again. But I've got this handy link to the Screen Saver engine in my Dock.

If I click it, it instantly goes to the Screen Saver. If I've set it so that going to the Screen Saver locks me out immediately this is a really handy quick way to instantly go to the Screen Saver and lock your Mac at the same time.

Comments: 6 Responses to “Start Screen Saver With a Button”

    Mr. Luigi
    11/13/17 @ 5:31 pm

    That is so cool! How DO you come up with this stuff!? I’m a teacher, and on occasion need to leave my laptop “unsupervised” in class. This is the easiest and fastest way I have seen to secure my laptop in those situations. Thank you!

    Steve Parker
    11/13/17 @ 6:26 pm

    Thanks for this post. On my 2012 iMac running Sierra (10.12.6), however, I didn’t find the ScreenSaverEngine.app where you indicated. Instead I found it here: System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources. Is the location you provided possibly associated with High Sierra?

    Once I had the path to the ScreenSaverEngine.app, I used the Keyboard Maestro app to set a keyboard shortcut to start the screensaver. Works like a charm!

    11/13/17 @ 6:42 pm

    Steve: Could be. I only have High Sierra installed on all my Macs.

    Don Allen
    11/16/17 @ 9:44 am

    outstanding. Thank you.

    B.A. Mann
    11/16/17 @ 10:02 am

    Yep, in macOS 10.12.6 (Sierra) the location of screensaverengine.app is System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources. But the same instructions work great. Drag to the Dock and presto. Great tip.

    Carol
    11/16/17 @ 11:17 am

    I will do it: I was using hot corners on my MacBook Pro but hot corners cannot work if the laptop is closed and connected to a larger external monitor.

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