I've looked around but can't seem to find any good answers. Would appreciate any pointers.

10 Answers 10


I don't believe there is a built-in, system wide Keyboard Shortcut. The quickest way to activating the screensaver via the keyboard is either via a "Start Screensaver" command using a launching applications such as Quicksilver, Alfred, or Launchbar.

The quickest way of starting the screensaver using your mouse is via Hot Corners. Open System Preferences, click "Desktop & Screen Saver", click over to the "Screen Saver" tab and click the "Hot Corners" button in the bottom left. There you can specify a corner to roll over in order to start the screensaver.

If you want to start the screensaver quickly, because you want an easy way to lock your computer, a possible answer is located in the high-view "Mac OS X Hidden Features Tips & Tricks" question that remains active.

And specifically, this answer.

shift + control + eject send display only to sleep (great for locking your computer instantly)


Use Automator. Simply open automator and drag in the "start screen saver" action, select "no input" under the "services received" menu, and hit file > save as "Start Screen Saver". automator This will now appear under System preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services > General, where you can assign it any hotkey you desire, just as you would any other system action. system preferences

from http://osxdaily.com/2014/07/10/set-screen-saver-keyboard-shortcut-mac/

  • Most definitely the desired solution, here. Thanks for sharing! – Volte Dec 15 '17 at 0:03
  • 1
    brilliant, thank you this is the solution – Merlin Aug 17 '19 at 19:59

Many moons later, I wanted the same thing and I found a solution. I use BetterTouchTool to manage all of my keyboard/mouse/trackpad shortcuts and configurations. So I created a keyboard shortcut that runs a terminal command when pressed. To launch the screen saver from the terminal, use this command:

open -a /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app

Now you can launch the screen saver with any keyboard shortcut (I use F19).

  • This was exactly my scenario too. LOVE BTT!!! – Mark A. Donohoe Oct 19 '16 at 20:14
  • Starting the screensaver is now also an option in the BTT shortcuts menu, i.e. no terminal command required anymore. – n1000 Mar 22 '19 at 11:29

I agree with Jason's answer - the only built in way to lock the screen (which sleeps the display but does not engage the screensaver animation) is the shiftcontrolmedia eject shortcut.

A free solution would be to use RedSweater's product FastScripts to map your choice of keyboard shortcut to call one of the AppleScripts that are floating around the net to toggle the screen saver engine rather than just let the display sleep. I'd try making a simpler script just to open the engine at the hard coded path if you only wanted to engage the saver.

I am a very happy user of LaunchBar which allows a quick keyboard only method to start the Screen Saver. It's not really a keyboard shortcut in the strictest sense (first you activate Launchbar with it's own shortcut - then key in sss or whatever you chose/taught lanchbar to use for the built in Start Screen Saver action.) Any other commercial "launcher" product should work as well to activate the ScreenSaverEngine app that is hidden deep inside /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/......


Drag the app ScreenSaverEngine.app located in /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ into your dock bar, click it and it takes you into screensaver.


Here's a bit of a hack involving the Keychain Access utility that allows you to define a shortcut to lock the screen -- it's five years old and I haven't been able to verify if it still works, though.



Someone else mentioned using BetterTouchTool to assign an shortcut to running a terminal command. I thought I would pitch in that as of my writing this answer, BTT has a native "Start Screen Saver" action which will do exactly what you are looking for.

  • yeah but you can't mix two buttons because when you release it will prompt login screen – confiq Jun 25 '18 at 12:32
  • For me it works fine, unless I delay releasing the buttons by nearly a second – as, at least on my Mac, it takes ~1 second for the screen saver engine to start listening for key presses. However, if that isn't your case, on the latest version of BTT there's an option to disable the "On Down" of any keyboard action, so the action is only triggered upon the release the main key (although not the modifier key!). This might be a problem depending on the screen saver – some don't listen to modifier keys. Due to my aforementioned screen saver behavior none of this has been a problem though for me – Skeleton Bow Jun 26 '18 at 2:15

Though, I cannot comment to a specific answer...

The path where the ScreenSaverEngine app is located has changed on Mojave: /System/Library/CoreServices/ScreenSaverEngine.app


Not enough rep to comment 😭

As another answer says, the path of ScreenSaverEngine.app changed in Mojave. Instead of chasing a moving path, you can target your shortcut to the bundle ID:

open -b com.apple.ScreenSaver.Engine

On some computers it is CTRL-SHIFT-POWERBUTTON.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .