Apple store screensavers - Which are the differences from a Mac screen saver?

MacOS Apple store screensavers logo

Mac Apple store screensavers are different from the normal OSX screensavers.

With the example of this Moon phase screen saver we will explain the differences and what you can expect from each category of saver.

The Mac Apple store can host only programs that are installed under the "/Applications" folder. This means that it is not possible to host screen savers(1) because they are installed under the system preferences. Due to this limitation, StarMessage is published on the Mac Apple store as an "Application"(2) that tries to behave as a screensaver would.

The StarMessage application on the Apple store contains the same functionality as the "normal"(1) screen saver, but it does not start by its own when you leave the Mac idle. For this reason, StarMessage users prefer the "normal" screen saver version that you can download from this site.

One benefit of the Mac Apple store version is that the screensaver can run as an animated wallpaper, showing the moon and the the sky behind your desktop icons.

  "Normal" screensaver edition
( .saver )
Apple store edition
( .app )
Main functionality The same main functionality in both versions
Starting up Starts automaticall, after the idle time of your Mac, as configured in the System Preferences You have to manually start the Apple store screensavers from the Applications menu
Ending The screensaver stops when you move the mouse or press a key You have to manually stop it from its menu bar icon
Configuration From the Mac's System Preferences
Mac osx system preferences for screen saver settings
From the screensaver's menu bar icon
Moon icon on the MacOS menu bar
File type .saver
Mac Screen saver (1)
Mac Application (2)
Folder where the screen saver is stored

The .saver file is stored in the folder

  • /Library/Screen Savers
    for screensavers that are available to all users
  • ~/Library/Screen Savers
    for screensavers of the current (logged in) user
The .app file is typically stored in the folder
  • /Applications
Works as an animated wallpaper No Yes, the screensaver can run behind your desktop icons while you continue working normally
Notifies you about new versions No Yes,
via the Apple store
Compatibility between the two types Yes,
you can install and keep them both
so that the Apple store will notify you when a new version comes out.
You can download the free StarMessage edition from Screensaver free edition from the official website Screen saver's lite (free) edition on the Mac Apple store



(1) MacOS scren saver
A MacOS compatible software with filename extension of ".saver". Screen savers are installed under the system preferences and start automatically when the computer is left idle.
To install a screen saver the user simply clicks on the ".saver" file and the system will ask if it should be installed for the current user only (no administrator password is required) or for all users (the administrator's password is needed).
(2) MacOS Application
A MacOS compatible software that is typicaly installed under the "/Applications" folder.
Its filename extension is ".app"
Average: 5 (2 votes)


Quite complex decision for some users. Personally I always prefer the standard .saver versions for the screen savers I chose for my macbook. You will also notice that the best Apple screen savers (for Macs, not for iPad, iPhone) always have a .saver edition, while they only sometimes provide an Apple store edition.

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