The alternative to creating your own screensavers is to download screensavers from the Web. There are an incredible number of possibilities in terms of screensaver downloads.
Windows XP runs only 32-bit screensavers. Many of the screensavers available are 16-bit screensavers that were designed for earlier versions of Windows. When selecting a screensaver for download, read the description and make sure it has been designed for Windows XP.
As we discussed in previous chapters related to downloading skin elements (such as Chapter 11, "Creating a Background Library"), you can do a web search for a theme/skin element such as a screensaver and you will get a huge number of results. As with any of the other elements we have discussed, such as icons and desktop backgrounds, some websites are good sources of downloads and others have a tendency to mess up your computer with spyware and downloads that contain software installations you really don't want on your computer.
Add-on software is available that enables you to run 16-bit screensavers in Windows XP. An example is Galt Screen Control, which is a 32-bit utility (for Windows XP) that not only allows you to easily change the current screensaver, but also has the capability to load older, 16-bit screensavers. Check it out at http://www.galttech.com/screenshots/screencontrol.htm/.
Websites associated with skinning software such as Style XP, WindowBlinds, and StarSkin typically provide a fairly safe environment for downloads (see Chapter 5, "A Primer on Third-Party Theme and Skins Software," for more information). Some other sites you might find useful in terms of downloading screensavers are the following:
Although I have mentioned this in previous chapters, I think the following is worth repeating: Make sure you have Windows XP SP2 installed on your computer and have your virus software up-to-date. Also, be sure to have the Windows Firewall enabled (or some other software or hardware firewall). These security strategies are very important if you are going to do a lot of downloading from the Web. Make sure that your computer is protected. Believe it or not, my exploration of theme/skin element download sites has resulted in some Trojan horse and virus issues that were caught by my antivirus software. The bottom line is that there is a lot of bad stuff out there and you don't want your computer to catch it.
The steps required to download screensavers from the sites listed previously (and other screensaver sites you locate doing a web search) vary depending on the site. Most of these websites either provide a Download link or counsel you to click the thumbnail picture of the screensaver to begin the download. For example, Screen Saver World provides a download link for a particular screensaver. In many cases, this website also provides multiple links (meaning multiple sources) for downloading the screensaver (see Figure 12.10).
Figure 12.10. Click a link to download the screensaver.
Downloading the Screensaver
After you begin the download of a screensaver file, the File Download dialog box opens. Click Save to save the screensaver. The Save As dialog box appears. Provide a location for the download (a specific folder) and then click Save. The screensaver file is saved to the selected folder.
As with other skin and theme elements we have discussed in terms of downloads from the Web, screensaver download files can come in two varieties: compressed Zip files and executable files. In the case of Zip files, locate the download in the download folder and then use the Extraction Wizard to extract the executable file contained in the Zip file.
Many of the websites that provide screensaver downloads also provide ratings of the screensavers. These ratings are feedback from other users who have downloaded and installed a particular screensaver. Some websites also provide links for other theme or skin elements associated with a particular screensaver. This provides you quick links to other skin items. Downloading all the items allows you to quickly assemble all the elements for a particular theme or skin.
Whether the executable for the screensaver was a direct download or contained in a Zip file isn't all that important. After you have access to the executable/installation file, you can install the screensaver. First, locate the screensaver executable using Windows Explorer (see Figure 12.11).
Figure 12.11. Locate the installation file for the downloaded screensaver.
Installing the Screensaver
Now you can double-click the installation file for the screensaver. If you have SP2 for Windows XP installed, an Open File Security window opens. Select Run.
The next step varies depending on the installation strategy being used to install the screensaver. An installation screen appears that requires that you click either Next or Install. You just need to read the installation screens carefully so the screensaver is installed correctly.
After the screensaver is installed, the new screensaver should appear on the Screen Saver list on the Screen Saver tab of the Display Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 12.12.
Figure 12.12. The new screensaver is added to the Screen Saver list.
Depending on the screensaver installation program, you might have to open the Display Properties dialog box. However, upon completion of the screensaver installation, the Display Properties dialog box might automatically open to the Screen Saver tab with the new screensaver selected.
After the new screensaver has been selectedeither by you or automaticallyyou can set the various options related to that screensaver by clicking the Settings button. To preview the screensaver, click the Preview button.
Saving the Screensaver in a Theme
If you want to save this new screensaver as part of a theme, select that theme on the Themes tab of the Display Properties dialog box and apply the theme by clicking the Theme button. Now return to the Screen Saver tab and make sure the new screensaver is selected. Then click Apply.
Finally, return to the Themes tab and click the Save As button to save the theme under the original theme filename; when you change the screensaver, the theme is listed under the original filename but with the (modified) label included. Saving the screensaver with the original theme name ensures that when you apply that theme, you get all the theme elements (icons, background, and so on) and the new screensaver.