I've tried a variety of different ways to change the message for the "message" screen saver on macOS 10.10.3. When I change it through the GUI, at least the following plist file is updated:


When I try to update this file as root using:

defaults write /Users/myusername/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.ScreenSaver.Basic.UUID.plist MESSAGE "test"


defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.ScreenSaver.Basic.UUID.plist

after closing the prefs window, when I subsequently re-open the sys prefs and view the screen saver settings, they still show the old settings.

The following command to restart the prefs engine doesn't work either:

killall cfprefsd

If I modify the above files using defaults without opening the system prefs, then restart, strangely, the screensaver reverts to the default computer name after the restart.

Ultimately I'm trying to enforce a custom screensaver with floating text on all my macOS machines.

2 Answers 2


Okay, I think I figured this out finally by using defaults:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.screensaver moduleDict -dict path "/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/Computer Name.saver" moduleName "Computer Name" type 0
defaults -currentHost write com.apple.screensaver.Basic MESSAGE "test4"
killall cfprefsd

This needs to be run as the current user. Just need to figure out how to run as root but to apply to all users. Probably a login script will do the trick. Hope this helps someone.

  • i know this is old, but i do not see the com.apple.screensaver.Basic file .. has this now gone in later versions ?
    – m1nkeh
    Dec 27, 2021 at 16:33

this thread is no.1 in Google for "macOS screensaver text" query, so I decided to put my answer here.

Currently (macOS High Sierra 10.13.5) if you want to change the text of your "basic" screensaver you have to type:

defaults write ${HOME}/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.apple.ScreenSaver.Basic.plist MESSAGE "your message"

after that it's necessary to reload:

killall cfprefsd

after that you can test your changes with running a Screen Saver from a command line:


For my needs I wrote a small script that inserts a ten-minute time interval in the screen saver (to show how long the break takes). It's here macOS ScreenSaver Text.

Hope this helps someone. Cheers.

You must log in to answer this question.

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