Distributing your Screensaver Installer

Once you have built a screensaver, you will need to get it to others for testing and eventually for final distribution to your end users, customers, or clients.

Make sure to test the final installers, both before any distribution steps AND after placing them in the final location, before announcing their presence to your end users.

Common Unzipping Problems & Solutions

Please note that iScreensaver Designer has a solution for most all of Windows' 'Most Common Problem' with zipping and unzipping files. Build your projects with our default Single File EXE option, with Zip off. Use the resulting self-extracting installer file for all distribution.

Self-Extracting Installer

The majority of all screensavers can be built with our default single-file self-extracting Installer option.

  1. The Most Common Problem:
    In order to run installers made with the Zip option, the files must be un-zipped first. There is a bug in some third-party Zip programs (such as WinZip) where it will attempt to run the EXE from within the Zip file without first extracting it. This will bring up a cryptic error.

    Solutions Include:
    1. Remind your users to always choose "Extract All" for the Zip file before attempting to install the software.
    2. Make the files available on fixed media (DVD, CD, Thumb Drive), or via a network filesystem.
    3. Instead of delivering a Zip file, create a "Self Extracting EXE" file by using a free third-party installer toolkit:
    4. Use iScreensaver Designer with its built-in self-extracting screensaver installer.

  2. Large filesizes:
    Under early Windows' systems if either the overall installer or any individual file size exceeds 2GB, then these cannot be used with a single-file EXE. Either reduce the file sizes, or build with just the Zip option checked and follow the 'Most Common Solutions.'

  3. Managed Installations / Active Directory Installs:
    If you are an IT department or SysAdmin, you can push out a managed installation of iScreensaver. This is a highly technical process for professionals only, and there are some best practices and hints for them in the section below on 'Managed networks' installations.


Delivering through Email

Just attach the installer .zip files to an email. Most email providers can handle files up to about 10MB to 20MB in size, but will reject larger files. If so, consider a third-party service such as: DropBox, YouSendIt, or try googling "sending large emails."

Delivering from a Web Server Download

This is the best way to distribute your screensavers. No physical object to be manufactured, installer updates can be instantaneously available world-wide, and over the years, the process has only gotten easier to do. Things you will need include:

Hosting your web page

Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers -- the people that you pay to access the Internet via Dial Up Modem, DSL, or Cable Modem) provide a rudimentary homepage service along with your account, for example, here are some information pages about hosting for various ISPs:

If you don't yet have an ISP, or you want a more professional service, you may want to check out some of these companies which offer inexpensive hosting:

Compressing your Installer file

In order to save space, reduce download time, and insure compatibility, you may want to Compress the file before uploading it to the web site. By default, iScreensaver already has done this step for you, creating compressed files within the Installers folder.


Creating a self-extracting archive is now default behavior when building with iScreensaver, but if that process was turned off, the manual steps include:

This zipping is default behavior when building with iScreensaver, but if that process was turned off, the manual steps include:


Uploading the Installers

There are many ways to upload the installer program to the web, and the method you use will depend entirely on your hosting service (see above). The most common ways are HTTP upload and FTP.

Creating Web Links

Finally, you will need to create a link on your web page that, when clicked, will automatically download the Installer program. If you are not a HTML code programmer, check with your ISP, the w3schools training site, or the for hints and techniques for setting up your website.

Delivering on CD-rom/DVD-roms

If you have built a screensaver and are trying to make it available via CD or DVD, these instructions should be useful. Please note that this is a rather technical process using some archaic knowledge of hybrid disc formats, and may require third party software. Most modern computers do not even arrive with a media drive at all anymore. For these reasons, we can not provide further technical support for this process. We recommend the simpler, and more versatile web-based distribution, if at all possible.

Creating Windows-format CDs or DVDs from a Windows computer

If you are using Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Build your screensaver, and locate the new Installer file.
  2. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R) into your machine.
  3. Copy the single-file installer ("My Screensaver.EXE") to the disc.
  4. Burn the disc and eject it.
  5. Test the disc on another machine : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the EXE file to start the installer.

Creating Macintosh-format CDs or DVDs from a Macintosh computer

If you are using macOS, follow these steps:

  1. Build your screensaver, and locate the new Installer file.
  2. If you have built it on a Windows machine, copy the .ZIP file to a Macintosh, and un-zip it by double-clicking it.
  3. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R) into your machine.
  4. Copy the screensaver Installer file ("Install 'My'") to the disc.
  5. Burn the disc and eject it.
  6. Test the disc on another machine : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the installer file to start the installer.

Creating Hybrid discs: Basic Method (Requires macOS)

macOS can now burn cross-platform discs that will work in both Mac and Windows PCs. These steps provide a simple way of accomplishing this task. If you need more control over the finished CD or DVD, or if you are on a Windows-only PC, read the Advanced Method below.

  1. Build your screensaver installers.
  2. If you built the Macintosh saver on a Windows PC, it will be in ".zip" format. Copy this file to a Macintosh, double-click it to unzip the file, leaving you with a normal mac app file (e.g. "Install 'My'") .
  3. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R).
  4. Copy the installer files to the disc. Remember that the single-file Windows installer will end in ".EXE". The Mac installer will end in ".app". You may want to put them in separate "Windows" and "Macintosh" folders to avoid confusion for the end user. If you aren't seeing the filename extensions, then do this: Go to the Finder, choose "Preferences" from the Finder menu, and make sure "Show All Filename Extensiosn" is checked.
  5. Burn the disc and eject it.
  6. Test the disc on both a Macintosh computer and a Windows PC : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the proper installer file (the .app one for Macintosh, the .exe one for Windows) to start the installer.

Creating Hybrid discs: Advanced Method (Either platform)

  1. Build your screensaver installers.
  2. Obtain CD/DVD Mastering software:
    For Macintosh, we recommend Roxio's Toast.
    For Windows, we recommend CDEveryWhere or MacDisk for Windows.
  3. Create a hybrid disc that contains both a Mac and Windows partition. Here are some sample instructions that may assist:
  4. Simplify installation for your end users:
    For Windows, following instructions can set an "AutoRun" or "AutoStart" feature to automatically start the screensaver installer when the disc is inserted.
    For Macintosh, this feature has been disabled as of macOS for security reasons. However following instructions, the window can automatically open instead.

Distribution across a managed network

This section requires advanced system IT practices - it is not for the novice author.

Windows System IT Administrators sometimes wish to run an automated install of screensaver installations across multiple machines in a managed (as an Active Directory or Group Policy) network. In order to manage this process, some steps require Microsoft software and perhaps Microsoft technical support.

To prepare for a managed install, first on a single PC:

  1. If you haven't done so already, upgrade to the latest iScreensaver Designer and re-build your screensaver.
  2. On a test machine that you have an Administrator account, log in, and copy the installation folder to this machine.
  3. Install the saver using the EXE installer file using the "Install for All Users" option.
  4. This will put one item (an .SCR file) into your C:\WINDOWS folder. For example:
    The process will also set some registry keys.
  5. If you want to set per-computer screensaver options (such as audio volume, or the use of the HUD), then open the screensaver control panel, click "Settings" and set your desired options. Close the control panel.
  6. Verify that the screensaver functions normally.

To roll out the screensaver system-wide:

  1. Create an Active Directory install process which does the following things:
    - Places the one item (the .SCR file) in C:\WINDOWS (or the equivalent WIN32 folder as per your configuration). Important: do not rename the SCR. If you need it named differently, change the name in your .ISC project file in iScreensaver Designer, and re-build the screensaver, then start over with preparing for a managed install.
    - Selects the SCR as the currently selected screensaver by setting the registry key:
  2. Adjust the path to match your installation. note that this path MUST be the short (8.3) format path, even on Vista/Win7-Win10. You may also want to Shadow the system.ini value as well.
  3. If you want to set screensaver-specific registry values (see "Settings" above) then also copy the appropriate registry keys you chose into:

  4. Additional necessary permissions:

  5. The screensaver needs access to the IE rendering engine. JavaScript must be enabled.
  6. The screensaver needs read / write access to the %tmp% folder during operation.
  7. Anti-virus software must not block the operation.
  8. next Exploring Sample Projects