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Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition by David Pogue

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Screen Effects

In previous versions of Mac OS X, this panel was called Screen Saver. Why did Apple change the name? Very simple: This feature doesn’t actually save your screen. In fact, flat-panel screens can’t burn in at all, and even traditional CRT screens wouldn’t burn an image into the screen unless you left them on continuously—unused, with the same image on the screen—for two straight years. It’s just not going to happen.

No, screen savers are mostly about entertainment, pure and simple—and Mac OS X’s built-in screen saver is certainly entertaining.

In the Screen Effects panel, you can choose from nine different screen saver modules—most of them beautifully designed. For example:

  • Computer Name. This display shows nothing more than the Apple logo and the computer’s name, faintly displayed on the monitor. (These two elements do actually shift position every few minutes—it just isn’t very fast.) Apple probably imagined that this feature would let corporate supervisors glance over at the screens of unattended Macs to find out exactly who is not at their desks.

  • Flurry. Here’s another new one in 10.2—and it’s a doozy. You get flaming, colorful, undulating arms of fire, which resemble a cross between an octopus and somebody arc welding in the dark. If you click the Configure button, you can even control how many streams of fire appear at once, the thickness of the arms, the speed of movement, and the colors.

  • Abstract, Beach, Cosmos, Forest. These are photographic screen savers, featuring ...

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