Photo Screensaver/Slideshow for Your Mac

Because Your Pictures are Worth it

ArtSaver has been a pet project of mine for many, many years, and it has grown into a small set of programs:

For advantages/disadvantages of each program, see below. In a nutshell: if you want to back up to see previously shown images again (using the arrow keys), you need to use ArtSaverApp. I strongly advise to use either ArtSaverApp or ArtSaver, but never both!
If you are wondering how to distinguish between a screensaver proper and a regular app in general, please see below.

In the following, the term ArtSaver usually means both ArtSaver and ArtSaverApp, unless qualified specifically or obvious from the context.

ArtSaver provides a "slide show" or "picture flow" for large image collections you have stored in a folder (or several folders). It is mostly geared towards people who want to see their image collections as large as possible, and with some information about the images currently displayed (see screenshot on the right).

Note that, by design, ArtSaver does not sport fancy visual effects, such as picture postcard, mosaic, or the like! It only offers still images, centered zooming in and out, and the Ken Burns effect (a.k.a. pan & zoom). The goal of ArtSaver is to present images such that you can enjoy them in their full glory.

ArtSaver provides more control than Apple's built-in screensaver over exactly which images are displayed, the duration, how it switches from one to the next. ArtSaver, the screensaver, is also one of the few slideshow screen savers that allows you to see a different set of pictures on each monitor in a multi-monitor setup, and with different options. ArtSaverApp, the regular app, allows for keyboard controls at runtime, so you can go back to previously shown images (using arrow keys, aka. cursor keys).

Upfront, I should also say that ArtSaver cannot display photos managed by the Photos app on your Mac! I know this is a disappointment, but, currently, Apple is preventing all third-party programs from accessing the Photos app. (See below for workarounds.)

Table of Contents

Download current versions
Description of most of the features
Videos of ArtSaver/ArtSaverApp in action
Details on installation (double-click usually does the trick)
Screen saver surrogate mode for ArtSaverApp
Running ArtSaver on multiple monitors at once
Work-arounds around the problem
In case you have questions, face problems, have suggestions, etc.
Download older versions
How to tell the difference between the screensaver and the regular app
If you would like to contribute by making a donation
If you would like to get notified about new releases and betas
Full, detailed manual of ArtSaverApp and the full, detailed manual of ArtSaver, which are also contained in the app / screensaver


You can download the latest version of ArtSaverApp in the Mac App Store. You might have to switch to the US country of your App Store (just scroll down in the Mac App Store until you see a flag at the bottom right corner, click on it, and change the country.)
Here is the ArtSaver Auto Launcher; and here is the ArtSaver System Preferences plugin (aka. screensaver proper). They should run on macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and higher. (You can find those links also in the Manual in ArtSaverApp's Preferences.)

You can find older versions below.

Some of ArtSaver's Features and Options

The following features are common to both ArtSaver (the screen saver) and ArtSaverApp (the regular app), except for the keyboard controls:

The Change Log at the bottom of ArtSaverApp's Manual explains the changes over previous versions and all features in great detail. ArtSaver has its own, slightly different Manual, just in case you are curious.

When you close the Options/Preferences pane, ArtSaver/ArtSaverApp recursively scans the directory tree containing the files, and saves the list of images in a database. This might take a while. After that, every time ArtSaver gets invoked, it will just read this list, and never has to go through the whole directory tree, which can be a huge time savings, if there are many images.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Programs

In summary, if you want to have keyboard control and you want to display images on multiple monitors and you want to have ArtSaverApp launched automatically, then at the moment ArtSaverApp cannot do what you want (I am sorry, and it is already on my to-do list for ArtSaverApp).

Video Previews of the App

Note that the following screen recordings show only some of the posible configurations. And you can change a lot of the parameters, such as the image duration.


For the regular app: launch it, go to the app's Preferences, and select the folder of your images. Also, make any adjustments to the other settings you want.

For the screensaver (the one that sits in System Preferences): don't forget to go to System Preferences → Desktop & Screen Savers and select ArtSaver in the list on the left-hand side! Then click on Screen Saver Options and choose the folder of your images.

For those of you switching from ArtSaver to ArtSaverApp: please note that you need to set ArtSaverApp up by clicking on the app itself once you have downloaded it, NOT by going to System Preferences / Desktop & Screen saver - the app no longer works from this location! Also please remember: both the screensaver and the app maintain different settings for different monitors.

In the rare case ArtSaver acts funny (this might happen if you have an older version), please try to clear out any old settings/preferences. To do so:

  1. Go to Finder → Go → Go to folder ..
  2. Type in: ~/Library/Containers/
  3. Delete any file beginning with de.zach.ArtSaver...
Also, try this:
  1. In Finder → Go → Go to folder ..
  2. Type in: ~/Library/Group Containers/
  3. If present, delete the file ArtSaverApp.flags

Screensaver Surrogate Mode

If you'd rather have your Mac launch ArtSaverApp automatically for you after some idle time (like it does with real screensavers), but don't want to miss the keyboard controls, then you might want to try the helper app ArtSaver Auto Launcher (see section Download above). Download it, launch it (a new little icon will appear in the top right status bar), make the settings you want, then sit back, and let it launch ArtSaverApp for you after the set idle time. That's it. (Of course, you can still launch ArtSaverApp yourself as usual, too.)

Note that all of this has nothing to do with the screensavers in System Preferences. Also, don't try to use "hot corners" for launching ArtSaverApp — it will not work, or, worse, launch the wrong thing.

Just like ArtSaverApp, you can move ArtSaver Auto Launcher wherever you want; /Applications or ~/Applications are good places.

You might even consider adding ArtSaver Auto Launcher to your Login Items. (If you don't know how to do that, here are some instructions.)

A note about security: ArtSaverApp cannot lock the screen while it is running (as opposed to macOS which can lock the screen while it is running a screensaver for you). Consequently, DON'T use ArtSaverApp in spaces where the public could access your Mac! Your Mac will still lock the screen when it goes to sleep, of course.

Multiple Monitors

ArtSaverApp, the slide-show app, cannot run with multiple windows on multiple monitors natively. But, you can trick it into doing so. The details are described in the Manuel/Help of ArtSaverApp. What you can do that way shows this video:

Work-Arounds Around the Problem

As I mentioned above, ArtSaver cannot access photos that are managed by the Photos app (or iPhotos). Apple just doesn't allow that access any more. So, here are two workarounds, if not solutions.

The first option is to export all the photos to a folder, for instance ~/Pictures/My Photos. It could also be on an external drive. For instance, I have put all my photos onto a USB drive that I keep plugged into my Mac at all times (as kind of a memory expansion).
Here is how to do that:

  1. create an album for one year's worth of photos,
  2. control-click the album, select "Download Originals to this Mac",
  3. after a while, export all the photos of the album, include all info,
  4. continue with the next year.
I have to do it year by year, because I don't have enough free disk space to download all originals to my Mac. Also, I have to create a new album for every year. Of course, you can export all photos in one go, if all of them fit on your disk, or if you did not check "Optimize Mac Storage" in Photo's preferences.

The second option is to uncheck "Copy items to the Photos library" in Photo's preferences before you import your photos. That way they will stay on disk were they are, Photos will just reference them, and you won't double memory usage, because your photos will be stored only once on disk (in the original place).
So you can point ArtSaver to the folder where your originals reside and still organize them using Photos.
The downside might be that you should always remember that you never delete or reorganize that folder containing your originals.

Feedback, Bug Reports, Questions, etc.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to send me an email.

Also, you can enter bug reports, requests for enhancement, etc., on ArtSaver's Github issues site.

If you would like to try ArtSaver or ArtSaverApp out, before you buy, please drop me a line.

Older Versions

If you need the current ArtSaver/ArtSaverApp version for an older macOS version, send me an email. Maybe I can help.

The following older versions are provided with the caveat that I may not be able to fix them should anything not work as expected:
ArtSaverApp 3.1 for macOS 10.11 (OS X El Capitan).
ArtSaver 3.1 for macOS 10.11 (OS X El Capitan).
ArtSaver Auto Launcher 1.1 for macOS 10.11 (OS X El Capitan).
ArtSaver 3.0.1 for Mojave (10.14).
ArtSaver 3.0.1 for El Capitan (macOS 10.11) and higher (hopefully).

ArtSaver 2.2 for Leopard (macOS 10.5; actually, at the time it was called Mac OS X).

How to Distinguish Between the Screensaver and the Regular App

In the case of ArtSaver, the difference might be a bit confusing. So, here is in very simple terms.

The regular app ArtSaverApp is just like any other app. It usually sits in your Applications folder (or whereever you want to keep it). You can launch ArtSaverApp just like any other app by double-clicking it, or by searching for it in Spotlight. You go to its Preferences just like any other app (top left menu ArtSaverApp / Preferences..., or CMD+,).

ArtSaver Auto Launcher (the helper app) is just like any other menu bar status item, sitting in the top right mneu bar. If you are going to use it, you might want to check the About pane: ideally, the number of instances it reports should be 1. If it is 0, it means ArtSaver Auto Launcher could not find your copy of ArtSaverApp. If it reports more than 1 instance, it means you have several copies of ArtSaverApp hiding somewhere on your disk; in that case, I recommend to delete all but one (Spotlight is your friend to find them).

The screensaver proper, ArtSaver, sits in your Mac's System Preferences / Desktop & Screen Savers pane. It is launched by your Mac automatically after it has been idle for some time. It uses different settings than ArtSaverApp! Usually, you will want to use only either ArtSaver or ArtSaverApp, not both of them. So, usually, it is a good idea to keep only ArtSaver or ArtSaverApp, not both of them, just so you (and your Mac) don't get confused.


If you enjoy this app or the screen saver, I would really appreciate a donation!. (You can donate via Paypal or credit card.) Over the years, I have spent thousends of hours to develop it, and adapt it to the ever-changing macOS API's. And in the country, where I live, 5 Euros is only good for a cup of cappucino.

(I use Donorbox for collecting dontations, just in case you are wondering.)

Mailing List

If you would like to receive information about updates, you can sign up with the ArtSaver mailing list You will receive at most one mail per quarter on average (usually much less).

What Other People Say

Here are some words in French by a kind user from France. It's based on an older version, but I am sure it still applies to the current version.
Here is a kind mentioning by a Dutch photographer (local copy).


Please notice that I have put ArtSaver under a copyright and license that basically says it's free for personal use but not for commercial use.

Privacy Policy

Neither ArtSaverApp (the regular app), nor ArtSaver (the companion screensaver), nor ArtSaver Auto Launcher (the helper app) collect and transfer any kind of information about the user(s) or their device(s), neither in personalized nor in anonymized form.

Gabriel Zachmann
Last modified: Wed Mar 16 19:17:00 CET 2022