Personalized screen savers are cool, for a couple of weeks or so. Then it's easy to tire of that one picture on your computer screen of a significant other, beloved pet or favorite vacation spot, especially if your computer spends a lot of time in screen saver mode.
To add a bit of variety, why not turn your static screen saver into a slide show that includes several pictures? It's fairly easy to do, using inexpensive shareware available for either the Windows or Macintosh platforms.
The software allows you to control factors such as how long each image will stay on your screen. You can get creative by adding effects to make the pictures spiral onto the screen, wipe across it from side to side or shake into place as if your computer were undergoing its own little earthquake.
But before you download software, the first step is to get the pictures you want to use onto your computer. If you have a digital camera, just upload the pictures into a folder on your desktop or some other easily located spot. If your pictures are on film, you can take them to a local copy or photo shop that digitizes images--they'll put them on a CD-ROM or disk you can pop into your computer.
One of the more popular Windows screen saver applications is Screen Paver, available at http://www.screenpaver.com. You can try it for free; full registration costs $10.
After you download and install it, a grid will come up on your screen to allow you to customize it. First, click on Settings and then on the tab marked Image Selection. Next, click on Add Directory and choose the folder in which you stored your photographs. Click OK.
If you want, you can now click on the Image Settings and Effects/Overlays tabs to adjust the time your pictures will be up on the screen or to add effects.
When all done, click OK on all the grids still on your screen.
Mac users can download Screen Gear Pro at http://www.screengear.com.gu. It's free for 15 days and then costs $15 to register. The payment makes you an honest shareware user and in this case also allows you to turn off an annoying Screen Gear Pro introduction screen that pops up every time you boot up the computer.
Use of the software is straightforward. After expanding it, you simply click on the program's icon and go to the pull-down menu under File on the toolbar at the top of the screen. Choosing Designate File/Folder, you select the file where your pictures reside.
Then again under File, you choose Preferences. That will take you to a box to allow you to set the time delay before your screen saver activates and customize the slide show (length of pause between pictures, special effects, etc.).
Times staff writer David Colker covers personal technology.