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How to Use Your Own Photos as Screen Savers on a Mac

I was sitting at my computer one day, letting my mind drift with the screen saver, and suddenly became aware of something: When my brain is tired, I lean back and blankly stare at the screen for awhile to rest it. That blanked-out state feels a lot like mini-hypnosis—which is a perfect time to influence oneself. So, I thought, if I'm going to stare anyway, why not use my own photos to embed a vision that I aspire to?

I knew already that it was possible to pull down photos from the Internet, other than what Apple provides, to use as screensavers. It made sense that I should be able to use whatever that tool was to set up my own photos for the same thing. I immediately checked into it, and what I'll show you below has evolved from what I found out that day.


Why Use Personal Photos for a Screensaver?

The main reasons I use my own photos are to influence myself in positive ways and to take pride in the quality of them, since I like photographing a lot. Here are a few potential ways you could use them too:

  1. To help you become more successful at achieving goals.

  2. To feel closer to your family and friends.

  3. To get yourself excited about the next event, if you like parties and holidays.

  4. To cheer yourself up as the months or seasons go by.



General Procedure for Setting Your Photos as Screensavers

Those of you who are already well aware of how your computer operates may not need any more than this summary of steps to take:

  1. Choose a reason for using your own photos, then choose the photos you want to use.

  2. Move them to a single folder in the Photos application labelled something like "Screensavers."

  3. Format the photos so they fit your screen without being cut off (usually 3x5").

  4. Edit the photos, so they show up well when enlarged on your screen.

  5. Open System Preferences. Go to the Screen Saver page. Under "Source" below the photo window, choose Photo Library, then the folder you just made.

  6. From the column on the left, choose the type of movement you want for switching from photo to photo.



1—Choosing and Organizing Your Photographs

First you need to have a purpose, so you know which photographs to choose. Let's say motivation is your purpose. You've set up the goal of buying a new house. You've already thought it through, imagined what you want it to look like, and have talked about it with others involved. You know the search can be discouraging, so you want to use screens savers to keep yourself focused and upbeat. Here's how to start:

  1. Take photographs of houses in your area that you love the looks of.

  2. Upload them onto your computer in Photos.

  3. Create a Photos folder and label it something like "Screensavers—My House."

  4. Click and drag to it whichever of your new photos you like best, then add whatever photos you already have that fit the bill.


2—Formatting Photos to Use as Mac Screen Savers

Most screens have a similar shape, whether you're using a Mac screen or a small TV screen as your desktop. That shape takes a 3x5" photo, but that's not how most photos come, so you'll need to change that. Here's how:

  1. Find your photo in the screen saver folder you just set up. Double click on the photo to expand it. In the upper right hand corner, click "Edit."

  2. Now you can change the looks and shape of the photo. From the tabs in the middle of the screen, click "Crop."

  3. On the right hand side, you'll see a number of choices. Click on "3:5" near the bottom of the list.

  4. The computer will automatically reshape your photo to that size, but it does it by cutting off part of the photo. It may also rotate the photo slightly, if it doesn't think it's straight. However, it also gives you the means for modifying both of those changes.

  5. If you want to move the photo back the way it was, or straighten it better yourself, go to the scale just to the right of the photo. Click and hold to grab the scale, then move your mouse (the scale) up or down until the key lines in the photo are straight.

  6. To reformat what shows in the photo, click and hold in the photo somewhere, then move it around within the 3x5" shape, until all the elements you want to be included are showing.

Now your photo will fit the screen properly, without anything more being cut off. Depending on the strength of light coming from your screen, you'll now want to edit the photo to look good as well.


3—Editing Photos to Look Good on the Desktop

You could, technically, set up your photo folder as a screen saver source now. However, there is still more you can do to enhance the looks of each photo for your screen:

  1. In edit mode, click on the button left of "Crop" that says "Adjust." This will give you a myriad of tools on the right that you can use to enhance the photo quality. Start by looking to see if the photo is dominated by light, by dark shadows, or if it's well balanced.

  2. It it's too light—go down to the "Black Point" slider and move it to the right. This increases the level of blackness, which often has the effect of intensifying the colors, as well as shadows. If that's not enough, move the "Brightness" button a little to the left to darken it, and the "Contrast" button to the right to keep your contrasts.

  3. If it's too dark—go to the "Shadows" slider and move it to the right. This will lighten the shadows. If the whole photo is too dark, move the "Brightness" slider to the right and the "Contrast" slider a little to the left to keep your middle shades.

  4. If the photo has intense light and intense shadows, you can slide the "Contrast" slider to the left to decrease the intensity and add a little more middle. You might want to then increase the "Black Point" a wee bit.

  5. If the photo looks pretty good, but is a little dull, try moving the "Highlights" slider to the right. If that's not enough and you want colors enhanced, move the "Saturation" slider to the right too.

  6. Experiment with these tools and all the other tools too, just for fun, just to see what they can do for you.

Note: Photos can be edited even after you've set them up to be screensavers, so don't worry about it if it's not perfect right away. I do it all the time. Also, once you get used to using these tools and seeing the results, it will be easier to see what a photo needs before you even start. That will make the editing time shorter.

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