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10.6: Run screen savers on top of the login window System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintAs many people may know, Apple made it all but impossible to run any screen savers on top of the login window (i.e. after some time, a screen saver appears over the login window) in Leopard by tightening up security requirements on processes that can run over the login window via launchd. This made workarounds that worked prior to 10.5 impossible to use. (The only screensaver that I know of that can run behind the login window in 10.5 is this one.)

I'm happy to report that, as of Snow Leopard, running screen savers behind the login window is finally officially supported. This was brought to my attention by magnusviri in this Apple Discussions thread .

Here is how to make it work...

Use Property List Editor or TextWrangler to create the file /Library » Preferences » with the following content:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">
<string>/System/Library/Screen Savers/Nature Patterns.slideSaver</string>
<string>System/Library/Screen Savers/Nature Patterns.slideSaver</string>
The loginWindowIdleTime time interval is in seconds. You can use any default (OS X-provided) screensaver from /System » Library » Screensavers.

Interestingly, this file does need not to be owned by root, so it can be created by an admin user without entering an admin password. This might be construed as a security weakness. However, I was not able to make this work with any third-party screen savers, even when I placed them directly into /System » Library » Screensavers (which does require an admin password).

If somebody does know how to make this work with third-party screen savers, please post in the comments.

[robg adds: If you wish to use other screen savers, first set the desired screen saver in the Desktop & Screen Savers System Preferences panel. Then go into your user's Library » Preferences » ByHost folder, and open the file Copy and paste the relevant lines from that file into the above file -- all the entries in the <dict> section, plus you'll need to replicate the path key's string into the loginWindowModulePath key. I tested this, and it works -- the Arabesque screen saver now runs after 30 seconds of login window display.]
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10.6: Run screen savers on top of the login window | 3 comments | Create New Account
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What about running UNDER the login window?
Authored by: gabester on Jan 12, '10 09:13:50AM
I tried this with Flurry and it worked... however, this hint's a little confusing insofar as it uses "on top of" and "underneath" the loginwindow more or less interchangeably. What this hint does is runs the screensaver in the foreground, "on top of" or "in front of" the loginwindow such that the loginwindow and desktop picture/pattern are not visible... I'd be more interested in how to combine this hint with running a screensaver as the desktop underneath or behind the login window such that it is still visible OVER the screensaver. That would be very cool albeit a useless consumption of resources.

Also, while I'm picking nits, the RANDOM_TEXT in filenames in the ByHost folder of your preferences is usually either your Mac's UUID or (in older OS X versions) your Mac's MAC address. So the value will be different for different computers and even different OS configurations on the same computer, but it should be consistent within files in use on that particular system configuration.

Edited on Jan 12, '10 09:17:08AM by gabester

[ Reply to This | # ]
What about running UNDER the login window?
Authored by: V.K. on Jan 13, '10 07:53:31AM
yes, the use of "behind the login window", "under the login window" and "on top of login window" is somewhat confusing. In my defense, all those terms were introduced by the editors. Not sure why they did that, really. I used "over the login window" everywhere throughout my submission. Thanks for the clarification. I do hope it's now clear what the hint means.
Edited on Jan 13, '10 07:55:12AM by V.K.

[ Reply to This | # ]
What about running UNDER the login window?
Authored by: rjbailey on Jan 14, '10 09:58:16AM

Thanks for clarifying, and with the clarification I'm less interested. I'd also like to see the login window OVER my screensaver, i.e. the screensaver UNDER the login window.

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