Can you remove the default screen savers in Mac OS?

Spoiler: Don’t.

This applies to Mac OS 10.15.3

By default, Mac OS comes with the execrable “Album Artwork” screen saver. When activated, this thing tiles any album artwork that it finds in your Apple Music (formerly iTunes) folder across your screen. That’s fine, but if you happen to click on your mouse while it is running, it starts Apple Music and tries to play something from whatever album you clicked on.

I usually click the mouse to deactivate my screen saver, and I don’t want to open Music all the time, so this behavior completely sucks. You can not disable this behavior in the screen saver settings, which also completely sucks.

Because I’m an exciting devil-may-care kinda fellow who lives on the edge, I like to set my Mac to use a random screen saver. But I don’t want the Album Artwork screen saver to run, and Apple doesn’t let you choose which of the default screen savers are randomly used. You either use one screen saver, or all of them. This also completely sucks.

All that suckage lead me to the question “Can you remove a default screen saver from your Mac?”

The shortest absolute answer is “Yeah, but it’s not simple.”

The shortest workable answer for most people is “Nah.”

The best answer is “If you want to use a screen saver, use Xscreensaver.”

The actual answer is “You can, but I decided not to, and you probably will too.”

Everything from here on pertains to bad decisions. Your life will be better and simpler if you just leave this page now and go learn how to make cheese.

But if you are determined, here is what you need to know in order to make a bad decision about the default screen savers on your Mac.

I warn you now that I am not going to explain how to do each step. Knowing what you are doing is the cost of entry here.

If you don’t understand what you are reading, I STRONGLY suggest you stop doing it and either go learn more or give up entirely.*:

The default screen savers are located in /System/Library/Screen Savers.

Doing things in Terminal

  • CD /System/Library/Screen Savers
    You will need to tab-complete or escape the space in “Screen Savers.”
  • ls or ls -la to see all the screen savers. Yep, they are directories.
  • You can then nuke the directory of the screen saver you hate.

I recommend you copy it somewhere else first, in case your plan to delete a system file doesn’t work out as smoothly as you’d planned. Because you planned this, right?

Doing things in Finder

  • Open Finder, hit CMD+shift+g and type in the location of the screen saver folders.

The directory will show up as empty. That’s because it contains system files, which are hidden by default.

  • Hit CMD+shift+. and you can see the hidden files.
  • You can then nuke the directory of the screen saver you hate.

I recommend you copy it somewhere else first, in case your plan to delete a system file doesn’t work out as smoothly as you’d planned. Because you planned this, right?

If you are now asking yourself “Why can’t I just right click and move the directory to the trash?” then you have more research to do. I do hope that dissuades you from continuing.

*This is some pretty solid general life advice

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