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Downloading Sample Files

DOWNLOAD a subset of imagery and a sample .ISC project with which to practice.
Windows users should 'Save' the zipped folder, then 'Extract All' to use the files.


The Space screensaver has examples of many of the advanced features possible in iScreensaver 4. High resolution OpenGL effects with custom 3D motions, locked and unlocked sequences, and the use of sequences including images, h.264 movies, and Flash (SWF) files.


Obtaining or creating your assets,, and the BBC, for example, have various images and video clips available under various licenses. Copyright law is complex and differs from country to country, so be sure you have the rights you need to use any media assets. For many reasons, using your own work is often the best idea.

For Space, we use sources at for images and videos in the public domain or with accredited usage, according to their terms of use. We do not claim copyright on the images, claim any sponsorship by NASA, nor otherwise explicitly or implicitly convey their endorsement or sponsorship. However, their hard work in obtaining these images from space is greatly appreciated.

Preparing your assets

A third-party application like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop can be invaluable in adjusting, cropping, or formatting your images. We have some artwork tips for creating images with transparent masks.

Photoshop - Save for Web

Adobe Photoshop's Save for Web feature can prepare icons and overlays.

For Space, some images need touch-up in Adobe Photoshop. Planets and some incomplete spheres need alpha masks. The icon needs sizing at 512x512 pixels, with an alpha mask too.

Organizing assets on disk / Setting up your folders

By placing all included assets together in one folder, it becomes simpler to package together one project for archiving, once complete. Subfolders, such as for audio, overlay art, or video, also help separate the elements for future project revivals. Certainly, your folders can be named differently, or you can go without and import files from any local storage location.

The Controls tab

Place all project assets together in a simple folder structure.

For Space, we created inside the 'iScreensaver Projects' folder: a single folder called 'Space', which holds the Space.isc project file, the installer icon.png file, a 'radio' folder for containing music files, and an 'assets' folder for containing all the images and movies. We have a list of credits for assets that require them. Eventually when we build the installers, the 'Installers' folder will appear inside the 'Space' folder.

Folder Structure

The Space folder structure.

Creating a new project

Open iScreensaver. The Projects list window will open.

For Space, we create a new project, and use the wizard to name it 'Space', which places the name 'Space' throughout the project. We may want to change that later in places.

Open iScreensaver

Open iScreensaver to the Projects List. Select New.

Name the Project

Use the Wizard to auto-name the project, other filenames, and dialog titles.

Before Saving the Project

The project filename has been set, but has not been saved.

Importing your video assets

The easiest way to import is to drag and drop files or folders from the desktop.

For Space, we drag-and-drop the 'assets' folder into iScreensaver's video sequence area of the new project.

The Assets Folder

Images collected and stored inside the assets folder.

Drag and Drop Importing

Drag and drop the assets folder to the sequence area.

General Import Report

Receive an Import Report where sometimes folders contain non-asset files.

Importing your audio assets

Not all screensavers need to have audio. Screensavers with audio sometimes find themselves quickly uninstalled. However we know audio has its benefits. The easiest way to import is to drag and drop files or folders from the desktop, but we've included an easy Add File button.

For Space, we went silent - no audio.
But if we were using audio, here's another way to import the files. Note that the Windows file browser only allows selection of single items, but Macintosh allows multiple at a time.

Add Files

Click the + button to add a file to the sequence.

Add File

Inside the assets folder, Windows allows one selection at a time.

Audio Import

The audio files appear in the list.

Audio Sequence Settings

If you have more than one audio file, try using shuffle.

Arranging sequence patterns

Items can be then moved around in the sequence area to adjust the order in which they are played, however order really doesn't matter in the case of shuffle.

For Space, we are using 'Shuffle' so the sequence order does not matter, except for the first item, which we happen to always want playing first when the screensaver starts. We move our Earth image to the Item #1 position, and set our Video Sequence global settings.

Reorder Sequence

Move 'earth.jpg' to the starting position.

Shuffle, First item first

Start with first item, then shuffle upon every looped sequence.

List View, Sort by Kind

Set the Video sequence to List View, then click the column title to sort by Kind.

Turn off image overlays

Turn off Image Overlays for this particular screensaver.

Write generic parts first

Edit all the common caption information at the same time.

Setting grouped settings

It's easiest to edit all the 'common' settings at the same time, whether it be caption text, durations, or master control over overlays. Selecting multiple items allows you to change a lot of settings at once. Remember that List View can let you resort and select items quickly.

For Space, we have two looping movie animations, plus we wish all images to last about 15 seconds, neither which are the default settings. By re-sorting in List View, we can choose a single file format to affect. Later, some items will be set different as we adjust them on an individual basis.

Re-sort the list and select multiple items

These two animated movies were created to seamlessly loop.

Change the play count

Either choose from the preset, or type '3' for the play count.

Select just the images

Use shift-click to select from a starting item to a ending item.

Change the duration

Either choose from the preset, or type '15' for the duration.

Custom Effects

Choose 'Custom...' from the preset. These parameters move images slowly towards the viewer, as if the camera was zooming in or falling into the stars.

Setting individual settings

Select each item individually to edit just its settings. The Preview window can help guide as you move through the sequence list one item at a time, as some individual images may need different settings for Display or Effects. If you find settings you'd like to transfer to other assets, the different attributes can be pasted separately. Hint: duplicating and re-using items in a sequence does not multiply the size of the final screensaver, so it's possible to have several motion effects for a single, but duplicated, asset.

For Space, many imported images will default to JPG compression, while any images with alpha masks such as PNG, TIF, or Pict will be imported with Color Mask and Compression settings automatically set. Switch to Captions tab as needed to edit individual credits, or edit directly in List View (though items with various font styles may have their text normalized).

The Preview Window

Open the preview window to see individual effect changes.

Different effect parameters

Some images look better cropped to fit the screen...
Some images look better letterboxed to fit within the screen.
Different effect parameters slowly spin towards the viewer.

Settings for PNGs with alpha masks

Images with alpha masks import with automatic Color Mask and Compression settings.

Edit in List View

List View has another way to edit caption text.

Creating an alternate sequence

You can include a second sequence within the installer. It can be completely different than your first sequence, or can have subtle differences. Cut, copy, and paste assets across sequences. Again, duplicating and re-using items across sequences does not multiply the size of the final screensaver.

For Space, the alternate sequence consists of just the motion effected images, removing the Flash and Movies and shortening the impact of caption text.

Turn on locking

Turn on the Locking features.

Paste assets across sequences

Copy and paste assets to the secondary Video sequence.

Caption display alignment

Reduce, refocus, and recenter all caption text.

text color

Reduce the text color and opacity.

text background color

Reduce the background plate color and opacity.

Setting the unlock settings

There are two ways to work with unlocking keys - either a preset list of codes, or a seed generator that uses individual user names to derive a single code per name.

For Space, we wanted a single code for everyone.

Enter keycode information

Add a keycode in the Key List, and make it funky.

Customize the Locking message

Explain your deluxe screensaver to your end users.

Customizing controls and installers

The Controls and Installer tabs allow you to educate your end users more about your screensaver during both installation and use. The titles were set with the wizard when starting the projects, but can be changed if desired. If splash picture art is used, it will be sized to 392x120 pixels to fit. Weblinks can be set to return users to your website.

For Space, we altered the texts to make it clear that we are not affliated nor endorsed by NASA, nor claiming copyright over any assets used in the screensavers. Our splash pictures we left as their defaults.

The Controls panel

Set the Control Panel art and texts.

The Installer panel

Set the Installer art and texts, which can include any End User License Agreements.

Building installers

The wizard has taken care of the filenames on the individual platforms, so that you can build all platforms at the same time from the Share tab. Or, add icon art or wallpaper, or check and copy your current plug-in information to establish a minimum your end users will need to have installed (or blank the field to not check a plugin at all).

The Build Progress apprises of build warnings, errors, and other pertinent information, and allows installation when complete. Reveal shows the installer folders and zip files for both platforms, and please use the zips to transfer to clients or end users via the web, email, or onto discs.

For Space, our Flash movies were created for Flash 9 and we didn't need any fancy modern QuickTime technologies, so we altered the minimums to reduce any installation impact on end user's machines.

Macintosh build options

Macintosh build options.

Windows build options

Windows build options. Note that once built, you can install directly from this tab.

Turn off image overlays

Proceed directly to Build All.

Turn off image overlays

Build Progress gives a lot of information... almost too much.
Test or reveal the installer directly from here.

Testing screensavers

It's really good to test your final installers, and to test on as many different machines as possible, mostly to gauge how your project responds to different hardware and monitors. What may work fast on one machine, may display differently on another.

Reveal the installer folders

Click Reveal in the Build tab to show the actual location on your local storage.

Installing a screensaver

The Installer

The Installer.

The Publishing information warning

Order an official publishing certificate to remove these messages.
This is a highly technical process with other third-party software.

Unlocking request

The skippable Unlocking request upon installation.

Screen Saver Settings

Windows' Screen Saver Settings. Try 'Preview' or 'Settings...' for fun.

The Control Panel

iScreensaver's control panel.

User Options

iScreensaver's user options. With the easy uninstall button.

Programs and Features

Clicking 'Uninstall...' opens Windows' Programs and Features.
Select the screensaver and click Uninstall.

Uninstall message

The return of MS-DOS, in uninstaller form.


Of course, now you are going to want to go through the entire User Manual, which explains many more important details and gives plenty of questionable advice.