But what is a screensaver exactly? What purpose does it serve? How does it know when to start? In this article, we will look behind the screen and check out just what’s going on.
A screensaver is really just an executable file, with the extension changed from .exe to .scr. File extensions tell the computer what kind of file it is dealing with. For example, winword.exe is a word-processing application that can be loaded by the computer, while article.doc is a text file that can be loaded into the Microsoft Word word-processing application.
An executable file is a file that the computer’s operating system considers a program or application. Files ending in .exe (or .scr) are expected to run without the need of another file; or, if they do need another file, they are expected to tell the computer which particular file is needed.
Here are the main reasons why:
- Entertainment – The most common reason we use screensavers is for the fun of it. Watching that macaroni dance across the screen to the tune of “Hey Macarena” can be a great diversion for a few minutes.
- Security – By setting up a screensaver with password protection, you can walk away from your computer and feel comfortable that nobody is going to be able to see any sensitive information.
- Uniform look – Many companies require all employees to use a particular screensaver. This creates a uniform and perhaps aesthetic environment and ensures that no inappropriate screensavers are displayed.
- Advertisement – Companies, particularly retail businesses, that have computers in areas accessible to customers will often have a screensaver that promotes their business or product.
- Information – A lot of screensavers provide either static or real-time information. A screensaver may cycle through a series of trivia questions. Another may pull stock information from a Web site and stream it across the screen.