My Living Desktop: Beautify Your Screen


With My Living Desktop, adding a little tranquility to your Mac has never been so easy. With plenty of built-in scenes, and a custom import option, your desktop will never be the same again.

The ability to run a screen saver or movie on your Mac’s desktop has been around for quite a while now. Unfortunately, the performance hit you take by running an intensive screen saver like Flurry with most of the hacks and applications out there is just a bit too much, not to mention that I’ve found them to not be very stable. And let’s face it, not too many people want to watch their kid on the backyard swing set over and over again.

My Living Desktop offers a soothing environment courtesy of peaceful movie scenes, accompanied by tranquil sounds, right on your desktop to help you cope with the stresses of your workday.

Now let me just say that I’ve tried running screen savers on my desktop in the past, and at least while I’m writing or working on something that requires lots of concentration, I don’t care for music, beeps or buzzing in the background. To my surprise, though, My Living Desktop struck a great balance with the scenes offered. At no time did I find myself wanting to shut it off because the sound or constant movement on my desktop was too distracting. You can tell the developer put a lot of thought into which scenes to include with the application. They’re all subtle movies and sounds that aren’t constantly fighting for your attention while you’re editing your spreadsheets for the boss, or editing photos of the kids.

My Living Desktop Scenes

My Living Desktop Scenes

With nearly 40 different built-in scenes, such as ocean beaches, forest waterfalls, falling rain, wind blowing across an icy mountain, and more, you’ll most likely not grow tired of the built-in offerings. But if you do, a handy scene-import application comes with the Screensaver/Desktop combo that allows you to use your own movies instead.

But wait. What if you want to listen to your iTunes while you work? My Living Desktop allows you to use the menubar icon to keep the scenes running, but mute the sound. You can also use the icon to turn the desktop scene off completely and return to your normal desktop picture should you need to do so.

Because all work and no play makes for a dull and unproductive Mac user, My Living Desktop adds the capability to remind you to take Serenity Breaks. You can set reminders for specific times of the day, or every X number of minutes, as well as how long the breaks should last. The screen saver plays throughout the break.

My Living Desktop Serenity Prefs

My Living Desktop Serenity Prefs

My Living Desktop offers a host of customization options which can be found in the Screen Saver tab in your System Preferences. Along with the above mentioned Serenity Breaks, you can adjust which scenes you want to use, or have it automatically cycle through all of them at specified intervals. You can also adjust the volume and brightness of the desktop scenes independently of the screen saver.

As I stated earlier, the performance-hit was a concern for me. I was sure this was just going to bring everything to a halt on my MacBook Pro. I was pleased to find that I noticed little-to-no performance hit when using Pages, Photoshop, InDesign or any other apps I normally run. Obviously if you’re running a lot of apps at once, you’re probably going to notice slowdowns — but having three or four apps open caused me no pain. Your mileage may vary.

To help out those who just can’t live without having every app they own running at all times, the developer has built in the ability to reduce CPU usage by using a less sharp version of the movies. You also have the ability to shut off the desktop scene automatically when using specified applications. So when you launch iTunes, iMovie, or any other app that has audio feedback, you won’t have to bother visiting the menubar icon to shut it off.

My only complaint about My Living Desktop is that while the screen saver portion works on a multiple-monitor setup (the screensaver appears on both screens at the same time), the living desktop portion only works on one screen of your choosing, with a static image from the scene appearing on the second monitor. Because the scenes aren’t distracting, I would really like to have them appear on both monitors at the same time. I suppose this was a planned “feature” to maintain acceptable performance.

A demo version of My Living Desktop is available, and requires a G5 or Intel Mac running OSX 10.4 or above with at least 1GB of RAM. Once you’ve purchased a license ($34.95 for a single user, discounts for multiple users), a high-speed Internet connection is recommended for downloading more scenes.


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