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Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures Desktop
Let me just warn you, this hint is a little technical. But when you are done with these steps, you will be able to set your desktop pictures to any of the the Beach, Cosmos or Forest pictures from the built-in screen savers, without using any additional hard disk space (aside from a few kilobytes for folders and hard links). The image at left shows what you'll wind up with when you're done; click on the image for a larger version.

[robg adds: This hint is a more thorough and elegant solution than that presented in this older hint, which basically involves copying the images out into another location. If you'd like the simple method, use the older hint. If you'd like more options and no wasted drive space, then read the rest of this hint.

I have tested every step of this process, and it does work as described -- the image at left is from my machine, after completing the modifications. Note that future system updates may overwrite your work, as this hint involves modifying a couple of system files.]

First you will need to make folders in your machine's top-level Library -> Desktop Pictures folder (not your user's Library folder!) called Beach, Cosmos, and Forest (you can do this in the Finder or the Terminal, it's up to you). The next part requires that you open the Terminal and type the following commands (copy and paste will make this easier and more accurate; don't copy the $, as that's just the Unix prompt):
$ ln /System/Library/Screen\ Savers/Forest.slideSaver/Contents\
/Resources/* /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Forest/
$ ln /System/Library/Screen\ Savers/Beach.slideSaver/Contents\
/Resources/* /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Beach/
$ ln /System/Library/Screen\ Savers/Cosmos.slideSaver/Contents\
/Resources/* /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Cosmos/
These commands make hard links to the actual picture files within each screen saver. Now you have 'copies' of the pictures from those screen savers in your /Library/Desktop Pictures folder. However, these 'copies' are actually hard links to the files (they don't take more than 4KB a piece), but you'd never know by looking at them. You can stop here if you'd like and just get to these desktops by choosing the 'Choose Folder' link in your Desktop tab of the Desktop and Screen Saver preference pane.

The next step is adding those folders as options in your Desktop and Screen Saver preference pane. This is the technical part. I have only tested this with Panther, so if you have anything else, it may or may not work. Edit the file called Collections.plist, located in /System -> Library -> PreferencePanes -> DesktopScreenEffectsPref.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources -> DesktopPictures.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources. Using your favorite pure text editor, add the following lines:
    ,{
      identifier = beach;
      path = "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Beach";
      showScalingPopUp = NO;
    }
    ,{
      identifier = cosmos;
      path = "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Cosmos";
      showScalingPopUp = NO;
    }
    ,{
      identifier = forest;
      path = "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Forest";
      showScalingPopUp = NO;
    }
You can add these in any order you want, but please notice where the commas are, and do try and get the syntax right. The way it is setup now, you can just add the lines to the end of the file -- before the closing ).

For the next part you need to be root, or you can chown the file and directories you are working with to your user. Just be sure to change them back when you are done (this is the way I did it). Run this command to open the file, after chaning the permissions:
$ open /System/Library/PreferencePanes/DesktopScreenEffectsPref.prefPane\
/Contents/Resources/DesktopPictures.prefPane/Contents/Resources/\
English.lproj/Collections.strings
[robg adds: Perhaps the easiest way to edit this file if you're not overly comfortable in the Terminal is to use the Get Info box in the Finder. Change the owner of the English.lproj folder to your admin user (click the lock to enable this change). You can now open and edit the file in TextEdit -- you'll get a warning about saving, but it will work. Then change the owner back to System when you're done.]

This opened it in XCode for me -- note that this file is in Unicode, and you won't be able to edit it with vi, pico, or emacs. I don't know what it will do if you don't have the Developer Tools installed. Add the following:
beach = "Beach";
cosmos = "Cosmos";
forest = "Forest";
Save your modifications and open your Desktop and Screen Saver preference pane, and you should see your desktop selections added to the menu at the left. Enjoy!

Here's a recap and what it boils down to:
  • Make folders and hard links at /Library -> Desktop Pictures to your screen savers' pictures.
  • Edit the -> System -> Library -> PreferencePanes -> DesktopScreenEffectsPref.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources -> DesktopPictures.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources -> Collections.plist file and add those three identifiers and paths.
  • Edit the -> System -> Library -> PreferencePanes -> DesktopScreenEffectsPref.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources -> DesktopPictures.prefPane -> Contents -> Resources -> English.lproj -> Collections.strings file and add the three titles for the identifiers (this is how the Desktop and Screen Savers pane sees the identifiers).
That's it, sorry it was so technical, but if you only do the first step (making the hard links), it will still be usable to you by choosing the 'Choose Folder' link in your Desktop tab of the Desktop and Screen Saver preference pane. Just specify the location of the picture folder you want to use under /Library -> Desktop Pictures.
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Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures | 12 comments | Create New Account
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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: macondo on Nov 09, '04 10:04:46AM

Why don't you save yourself the potential mess and install either BackLight 2.0 or Background Saver 1.3 and have exactly the same results?

Regards



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: juz10mac on Nov 10, '04 05:54:45PM

Those softwares are good if you want to set the screen saver itself as the desktop picture and if you have enough graphics power to do that (Older machines won't handle that very well). But if you don't want to devote that much processing power to your desktop, or you just want a static image as your desktop and you want to use one of the picturesque images from the apple screen savers, I think my hint really is the better way to go, but maybe that's just because it's my hint ;) This is a good way to unlock desktop pictures that come with your computer but would not be usable as desktop pictures otherwise.

Juz10mac



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: hedgepig on Nov 09, '04 11:25:29AM

Does anyone know a similar trick to change the collections of the accounts Preference Pane (The user pictures)
There is only one Collection and adding more Pictures or even Folders to the directory /Library/UserPictures just makes them appear in this collection.

I wish I could define my own collections



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: zpjet on Nov 09, '04 11:53:30AM

dood, if i'd ever want to use those beaches or stars at my desktop (and i wouldn't, i have there a wood pattern for more than year, as i think people should look somewhere else when they have a second, like out of a REAL window), i'd just hit "Choose Folder..." in the list, pressed command-shift-g and navigated to

/System/Library/Screen Savers/Abstract.slideSaver/Contents/Resources/

replace Abstract by Beach, Cosmos or Forest as you wish. that's it

ps: here's my destop "picture" if you like

http://product.e-advice.dk/josef/misc/wood.jpg



[ Reply to This | # ]
Shoot, you win
Authored by: terceiro on Nov 10, '04 12:44:19AM

Yeah, that's the easiest way... and you win because I never realized I could hit cmd-shift-g in an open dialog. It's the most basic thing in the world, but it's new to me!



[ Reply to This | # ]
You must be new around here :)
Authored by: robg on Nov 10, '04 10:11:08AM
It was first hinted back in 2003 -- in this hint...

Anyway, glad you found it; it's very useful...

-rob.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Tabs are your friend.
Authored by: jscarry on Nov 10, '04 12:11:45PM

OSX will autocomplete the path for you as well.
To go to /System/Library/Screen Savers/Abstract.slideSaver/Contents/Resources/
Type /S and then tab.Then L and tab, etc.
As long as there aren't duplicates the OS will complete the folder name for you. If there are duplicates you need to type the next letter.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Tabs are your friend.
Authored by: poolish on Oct 18, '07 12:44:45PM

ha, whats that got to do with anything? they probly know that already



[ Reply to This | # ]
Desktop Picture Collections
Authored by: juz10mac on Nov 10, '04 06:32:40PM
I just want to add that, with a few modifications, my hint can be used create other custom desktop image collections other than Cosmos, Forest and Beach.

Just add your own identifier and path to the Collections.plist file and link that identifier to a title in the Collections.strings file. (see my hint above for the paths to these files)

Example (for Collections.plist):


   ,{
         identifier = myidentifier;
         path = "[path to pictures folder goes here]";
         showScalingPopUp = NO;
    }
Example (Collections.strings):

	myidentifier = "My Pictures";
Note: there should not be any brackets in the path. I put them there to separate out my comment. And you can title it anything, you don't have to use "My Pictures" (likewise the identifier, just make sure it is the same in both files).

That's it. After modifying those two files, open your Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane, and you should now see your collection to the left in the Desktop tab.

Juz10mac

[ Reply to This | # ]

Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: Mahalis on Jan 04, '05 09:00:03PM

Another useful addition - it turns out that once you've added a new item into Collections.plist and Collections.strings, you can also set an icon for it. Just make a 20x20 .tif (one "f", not two), name it the same as your "identifier" in Collections.plist (e.g. Abstract.tif if your identifier was "Abstract"), and you're done.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Works with Tiger, too!
Authored by: juz10mac on May 17, '05 11:58:06AM

I just tested this with Tiger and it works just like it did in Panther. And an added bonus: There is now a 'Nature Patterns' and a 'Paper Shadow' screen saver this will work with! On my machine, I put the nature patterns images with the 'Nature' and 'Plants' collections, and I made a new collection for 'Paper Shadow.'



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use Apple's screen saver images as desktop pictures
Authored by: LinLin on Mar 15, '11 06:44:38AM

could you actually tell me the paths to fill in for Nature Patterns as well? I can't really do it my own - it doesn't work...



[ Reply to This | # ]