Screensavers are an interesting tool in the
modern computer age. As the name suggests, they were originally created to
protect CRT screens from permanent burn-in. These days the almost-universal
screen technology in use is LCD.
While LCDs can suffer a permanent image burn,
that really only happens with commercial screens at places like airports where
the image has static elements for hundreds and hundreds of hours. As a desktop
computing issue, it just doesn’t matter any more.
Yet screensavers still have their uses. They
can be used as a security measure if you forget to lock your computer when
walking away from it. It’s also an attractive decoration when the PC isn’t in
use. Every iteration of Windows has come with quite a decent selection of
screensavers, but Windows 10 seems to be a step back in one particular way.
In Windows 7 the built-in slideshow screensaver had a relative wealth of options. You could have interesting transitions, have images appear at random spots on the screen and generally spice things up when displaying your picture collection.
In Windows 10 you’re limited to a centered image and no transitions at all. So while Windows 10 Live Wallpapers are pretty cool, those of us who want to showcase their own collection of images are not too happy.
So we went on the hunt for some alternatives
that could bring back the charm of the old screensaver and boy did we find some
gPhotoShow (Free and Pro
Version 10.90 Euro)
gPhotoShow manages to be quite feature-rich, while still being pretty streamlined and easy to use. You can add multiple folders as image sources, but unfortunately you can’t show multiple images on the screen at the same time.
The first big advantage gPhotoShow has over
the Photos screensaver is the random placement of small pictures. Windows
Photos only supports a centered view, which can make small image look goofy on
big, wide monitors.
The Pro version of gPhotoShow offers quite a
few extra features, but none that the average user absolutely must have. The
free edition is pretty much what you want from a decent slideshow screensaver.
Some Pro features that might be worth the
asking price include pan & zoom animation, TIFF support, panoramic photo
support, video clip support and the ability to remember the last image in the
sequence between plays.
For our money, the “scrapbook mode”, which
combines several images to fill the screen, is the most worthwhile reason to
buy the Pro version. However, the next screensaver option offers an almost
identical function for free.
Endless Slideshow (Free and
Pro Version $19.95)
Endless Slideshow’s main claim to fame is the fact that it can automatically download pictures within several sets of predefined themes. The upside of this is that you can be surprised with pictures you’ve never seen before. It’s also great if you aren’t the kind of person that enjoys curating your own picture collection.
Endless Slideshow is incredibly feature-rich,
and you can tune it pretty much to your exact needs. Multiple pictures per
screen, custom background, plenty of sizing options and clearly labeled
functions make it a doddle to use.
Unfortunately, setting the program to also
include images it automatically downloads itself is also a bit of a gamble. For
one thing, you might see images that you really don’t like. In the worst case,
there’s always the concern that some inappropriate pictures could sneak in by
accident. That never happened during testing, but honestly the “endless” part
of the value proposition is actually the least interesting part of the package.
As a pure slideshow screensaver, Endless
Slideshow is brilliant, but there are some annoying limitations in the free
version. Having fewer transitions and limiting the number of on-screen images
to four per screen isn’t a huge deal. However, being able to manually advance
slideshows is a feature that should always be there.
Regretfully, the free version of Endless
Slideshow doesn’t let you do that. That might be a dealbreaker for some, since
the default Photos screensaver does allow for this. Still, Endless is better
overall and you can create some really interesting custom looks with it.
Should you stump up the twenty bucks for the
Pro version you’ll get your manual picture browsing function, plus a whole lot
more. A single Pro licence also lets you install the software on two computers,
so if you have two machines it works out to ten bucks apiece. It’s a great
slideshow screensaver and everyone should try the free version at the very
Unfortunately, ScreenPaver does not have a free version and you’ll have to pay the asking price if you want to use it. The good news is that there’s a 30-day trial, with no feature limitations other than an annoying reminder of how many days you have left.
For your money you get a solid, fully-featured
slideshow screensaver with the functions you’d expect. You can randomize the
position of images, stretch them, scale them down and generally tell the
software how you want images to be handled. This seems like a basic requirement
for a screensaver like this, yet the one included with Windows 10 does none of
this except for randomizing images.
Speaking of picture selection, ScreenPaver has
a pretty robust system to choose which directories you draw your pics from. You
can pull them from multiple drives, select subfolders and even mark certain
pictures within a folder as a favorite. It doesn’t have as many transitions as
some slideshow screensavers, but it’s doubtful that many people would be
concerned by only having a few dozen transition effects rather than hundreds of
Worth the $15? It’s a solid buy, especially if
you don’t quite get what you want with the two free options above.