Often you come across a screensaver with
an intriguing description and no screenshots. You are curios to see it
in action. But: SLAP! You can't figure out the way to make it work on
your system and you will never know what you have missed. What a pity! I
Enough of this! There should be a way to make us, screensaver hunters,
luckier. Keep reading. There's something that can open a whole new world
of screensavers to you.
First, in order
to fight this evil, we should find its roots. Why is it so that we have
the problem? Mainly it's because there are several ways to distribute
self-extracting installation packages
- As ZIPped
- As individual
self-extracting packages are the easiest to install. You just download
the screensaver and double click it. Then the installation program
starts and performs all the steps necessary to install the screensaver.
That is, you have it ready for use just with a few mouse clicks.
You can recognize
the ZIPped installation packages by their names. They have ".zip" at the
end. Double clicking such files will probably get you nowhere unless you
are well prepared.
category is represented by files with names ending with ".scr".
Activating such file usually launches the screensaver. That's not bad.
At least you can see what it's all about. But this way it won't appear
in the list of available screensavers that the operating system starts
if your computer goes to rest. That is, you have to use a little trick
if you like the screensaver.
Now that the
reason of our problems is a bit more obvious, I almost hear your
question. Once the self-extracting packages are the easiest to install,
why just not to stick with them? Okay, you are right. It makes a perfect
sense. But you forget one important thing. Screensavers are created by
differ from other computer users in that they see everything from their
very specific and technical point of view. It's not a problem for them
to extract files from ZIPped packages as they work with them very often.
It is rather natural for them to copy files into secret system folders
that 80% of users didn't hear about and don't have to.
That's why they
create screensavers and put them on download sites in the form that is
hard to install for you. But don't hurry to blame them. They mostly do
it unintentionally, not because they hate people who can't handle ZIP
archives or bare screensaver files.
I know it because
I am one of them. In fact (my face goes red here) my Rainy Screensaver (
http://www.elasticsystems.com/rainy/ ) was distributed as a ZIPped
package until version 1.7. Thanks to the people who provided me with
their feedback. I really don't see any reason to hurt those who use
their computers as tools or source of entertainment. These people don't
have to know all technical aspects.
I hope more and
more screensaver writers will understand this and will make their
screensavers easier for you to install. Meanwhile you yourself can get
the knowledge needed to handle not so friendly installations without a
problem. So let's get back to installing ZIPped packages and bare
files are known as archives. It is very popular way to spread software
and information over the net. They let you to "pack" many files into one
that is much easier to download. They also use special methods known as
compression to reduce the final size of the packed files and thus save
your time and money spent downloading them.
In order to
unpack (extract) files from a ZIPped package you should use a special
program. Probably the most popular and easy to use is WinZip. You can
download it from http://www.winzip.com. Windows XP has a built-in
support for ".zip" files so, if you use Windows XP, there's no need for
important thing to keep in mind is that a ".zip" package usually
contains a collection of files that should be extracted somewhere before
you can use them. It doesn't matter what program you use to extract the
files. Just follow its instructions to do it and put extracted files in
the place of your choice. It's better to create a special folder for
such cases. Alternatively you can use temporary folder provided by
Once the files
are extracted you should examine them. If you see one named "Install.exe"
or "Setup.exe" among them then you can double click it to complete the
installation process. Even though archives are very convenient when used
on a bunch of files, they can be used to pack a single file to reduce
its size. So if you have extracted a single file with its name ending
with ".scr" then you should keep reading.
As I have said
before, these files have their name ending with ".scr". They are
screensavers themselves. That is, they are the programs that create all
these amazing effects when started. You can find some details about them
in my article "Windows Screensavers Explained" at http://www.elasticsystems.com/articles.html
The easiest known
way to install ".scr" files is to right click on them and then choose
"Install" from available menu options. Once you do this, Windows will
set the screensaver as default and open Display Properties dialog where
you can adjust screensaver's settings if you wish.
This way has some
disadvantages though. First, you should be careful with where you keep
the screensaver file. If you have put it in the temporary folder and it
is likely to be deleted or moved somewhere else later, then the system
won't find the screensaver anymore. So you'd better create a special
folder for screensavers that you choose to install this way. Second, if
you select another screensaver from the list in Display Properties
dialog then Windows will forget any screensaver installed using the
described method. That is, you will have to right click it and choose
"Install" once and again.
this way is very convenient if you just want to take a look at the
screensaver, play with its settings and delete it. If you really like
the screensaver and want it to brighten boring cloudy days then you'd
better find a cozier place to keep it.
How do you find
such place? It's easy. What you need is to drag the screensaver into
your Windows folder. If you use Windows 95/98 or Windows Me then chances
are this folder is on your drive C: and has a name of "Windows". If you
use Windows NT/2000 or Windows XP then it's probably on your drive C:
and is called "WINNT". Once you put the screensaver in this folder it
will be available in the list of installed screensavers in Display
Properties dialog. Now you can select it whenever you wish. Furthermore,
you should worry no more about reinstalling it every time you change
your mind and select another screensaver.
you download a ZIPped installation package for screensaver, extract its
contents to some folder and find there both "Setup.exe" (or "Install.exe")
and ".scr" files. In this case double clicking "Install" or "Setup" is
the preferred way. That's because the installation program will perform
all the steps needed to install the screensaver like copying necessary
files, updating system registry, providing uninstaller and so on. Simply
copying the ".scr" file to Windows folder apparently won't do it.
Now that you have
a few more useful tricks under your belt, you can install much more
screensavers. Add here acquired confidence that those screensavers you
like are ready to please you whenever you wish and there's a good reason
to become a bit happier.