Before I updated my OS I was able to set my current screen saver as my desktop background using this command found in this answer

/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &

I'm not able to run it anymore as /System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/ doesn't exists anymore.

Anybody knows a workaround ?


2 Answers 2


The path and functionality have seemed to change. Heres a link and quoted tutorial to do it. Unfortunately, it appears its much more of a hassle in High Sierra+.

From here:

If you are using High Sierra (or later), the ScreenSaverEngine.app has been moved to a different location. Use the code below instead of the one above.

/System/Library/CoreServices/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background &

The problem with running just that line of code is that if you close the Terminal window — or if your Mac goes to sleep — the screen saver closes and your wallpaper goes back to whatever it was by default. To handle this, we need to go a bit deeper.

To detect when the Mac sleeps and wakes up, we need a small piece of software called “Sleepwatcher.” You can download it here. Just open the file and your Mac will extract the downloaded file (sometimes it might have to be extracted twice). After extracting, you’ll get a “sleepwatcher_2.2” folder. Just move this folder to Desktop and run the following lines of code in the Terminal.

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/sbin /usr/local/share/man/man8

You might need to enter your password after pasting this line. Next, run:

sudo cp ~/Desktop/sleepwatcher_2.2/sleepwatcher /usr/local/sbin

Then run:

sudo cp ~/Desktop/sleepwatcher_2.2/sleepwatcher.8 /usr/local/share/man/man8

Awesome! You have successfully installed Sleepwatcher. Now let’s add the lines of code needed to make Sleepwatcher run the screen saver when your Mac wakes up, and kill the screen saver when your Mac goes to sleep.

Sleepwatcher searches for and runs two files, .sleep when the Mac sleeps, and .wakeup when the Mac wakes up. We just need to create these 2 files in the user’s Home Directory.

In the Terminal, type nano ~/.wakeup then paste the below code.

osascript -e 'do shell script "/System/Library/Frameworks/ScreenSaver.framework/Resources/ScreenSaverEngine.app/Contents/MacOS/ScreenSaverEngine -background & EOF"'

Now press Control + X to exit. When it asks if you want to save the file, press Y and then press the enter key to confirm the file name. This will create the .wakeup file. Now to create the .sleep file.

enter image description here

Just like above, type nano ~/.sleep and paste the below code.

osascript -e 'do shell script "kill `ps -ax | grep [S]creenSaver | cut -c1-6` EOF"'

Again, press Control + X to exit, Y to save, and then the enter key to confirm the file name. Now the .sleep file will be created.

enter image description here

In Terminal, run the below line of code.

chmod 700 ~/.sleep ~/.wakeup

It changes the permissions for the newly created files so that it can be run by Sleepwatcher.

Now that you’ve created the scripts, you just need to add Sleepwatcher to launchd so that it can start when the system starts, then continue to run in the background. Paste the following code code into your Terminal.

cp ~/Desktop/sleepwatcher_2.2/config/de.bernhard-baehr.sleepwatcher-20compatibility-localuser.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents

This will copy the Sleepwatcher property list file so that it can be added to launchd. Now just paste the code below into Terminal to add Sleepwatcher to launchd.

launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/de.bernhard-baehr.sleepwatcher-20compatibility-localuser.plist

Awesome! You can now restart your Mac and the launchd will run the Sleepwatcher scripts at the startup. Just put your Mac to sleep and wake it up. Then you’ll be welcomed with a beautiful wallpaper.

  • 4
    Just so you know, the -background option is no longer working on v10.14 Mojave.
    – SilverWolf
    Dec 10, 2018 at 22:08
  • any way to do it in catalina ?
    – DevJ3rry
    Dec 6, 2019 at 13:55
  • Be careful! I ran the first line of code in the above post on 10.13.6. I ended up with a screensaver that covered the entire screen (ie, not just the desktop) that I couldn't exit out of! I guess the -background option doesn't work in later versions of High Sierra either? Feb 27, 2020 at 14:57

One workaround for this in recent Mac OS versions is to use VLC's "wallpaper" mode to play a video of your desired screensaver on the desktop background. For systems with multiple displays, the video will play on the display which the VLC playlist window is placed on.

From VLC's preferences window, click "show all", then click the heading "video" in the tree view and then tick "Enable Wallpaper Mode". Restart VLC and start playing a video - the playlist window will be displayed, and the video is shown on the desktop itself behind any windows. The playlist window can then be minimised.

VLC can be downloaded for free from the following site: https://www.videolan.org/

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