[Solved] Video screensaver takes too long to play, 30 seconds of black screen.

Hey there,

It would be helpful if there is something I can do to get the video screensaver to play sooner. The video is 20 MB big and on this Macbook Pro machine, with a 2.4 Ghz Intel Core i7 and 16 GB memory, it takes about 30 seconds of black screen before the video screensaver starts playing. I built it out using only one video to loop “Forever.” I used HandBrake to compress the video down to 9.6 MB and it still looks pretty decent but still takes about the same amount of time to start playing. Any tips? Are there settings I should check/uncheck to help out with this?

I just tried a simple test of a quickTime movie. On a Core i7 macbook pro running 10.8.5, when triggered using a hot corner, the screensaver starts and the movie begins playing in about 3 seconds. How are you triggering the screensaver to begin?

[Edit: fixed typo, should have said 3 seconds]

Thanks for the quick response! I’ve tried testing it by going into System > Desktop & Screensaver and then hitting the “Test” button from there. Also tried the Hot Corner method and still took around 30 seconds to start playing.

  • What OS are you using?
  • could you make a sample of the screensaver available for us to test? Email us with a URL to download it if you can.

Currently 10.7.5, and I sent an email over to support at iscreensaver dot com.

Thank you.
I’ve tested your screensaver and again, on a test machine (MBP, Core i7, 16GB Ram, 10.8.5) it starts up in about 3 seconds.

I’ll fire up a 10.7.5 machine to test as well.

In the mean time: I dug into your project and notice that you are using a MP4 video which (as you say) was created with Handbrake. The coding on that video is JVT/AVC, which is a little unusual.

My theory : the pause you may be seeing could be due to the Mac OS converting the video from one format to another. Although this supposedly only happens in 10.9, I believe that I’ve seen it happen in other cases. See discussion here:

Do you have any third-party codecs installed, such as Perian or Flip4Mac?

Please try this as a test:

  • Open the MP4 video in QuickTime Player
  • From the File menu, choose “Export”
  • In the Format popup menu, choose “1080p”
  • Export to a new .MOV file (it will be about 39MB - for testing that’s OK)
  • Re-create your screensaver using this new MOV file.

Does it behave differently?

Update: I just tested your original screensaver on our stock 10.7.5 test machine (a somewhat slower machine, Core 2 Duo ) and the movie starts playing in about 4.5 seconds.

So I think there’s definitely something funky with your macbook.

Hm, well I wasn’t this machine’s first owner so I’m not sure about Perian or Flip4Mac. How may I for check that? And does the JVT/AVC have any affect on playback time? I build out the animation in After Effects and from the huge 5.6 GB lossless export from AE, it went into Handbrake for compression.

I also tried rebuilding it with the exported .mov from QuickTime. I used the 20 MB version of the video from Handbrake instead of the 9.6. Either way, export size from QuickTime wasn’t very different, 40.3 to 40.2 MB respectively. I built out another iScreensaver file. Uninstalled the old ones, and installed the newly exported screensaver and it still has that ~30 seconds of black issue.

EDIT: I just asked a co-worker to test, he is running Mavericks with the same issue, it takes 30 seconds for it to load.

Sounds very much like you have some software that is conflicting.

Try this: Run the EtreCheck software http://www.etresoft.com/etrecheck and email us the results file. We can take a look and make some suggestions.

“I just asked a co-worker to test, he is running Mavericks with the same issue, it takes 30 seconds for it to load.” – are these normal desktop macs running the OS and home folders from your hard drive or SSD? Or are you in some sort of corporate / IT setup where you are running off of a network fileserver?

If that’s not the case, I wonder if you both have the same 3rd party software that’s installed which is conflicting?

Ran the program and Etresoft results have been sent.


We work off the servers but we all know how reliable THAT is, but do it anyway and save often. For the installer I saved the files to the desktop directly and used video that was exported to my machine’s desktop.

Based on the EtreCheck results, I’m seeing that you have a fairly large # of third party apps, plugins, and system extensions installed - any one of these could be the cause of the slow screensaver startup issues. iScreensaver uses the Safari / WebKit browsing engine for rendering H264 video, so Internet plugins would be the first place I’d look : try removing or disabling all the internet plugins and see if that helps.

Second place I’d look is at file transfer apps, such as DropBox, Android File Transfer, etc.

If you could do a few tests:

  1. Try creating a new user account on your mac: System Preferences, Users & Groups, click the “+” button to make a new account. Log out then back into that account and test again.

  2. Take the screensaver Installer app that you built, and open it. Instead of clicking “Install” just click the “Preview” button and see how long it takes to show up.

  3. Open Safari, and drag your MP4 or MOV file to the browser window. TIme how long it takes to start playing. If it isn’t almost instant, then you probably have some bad safari browser extensions installed.

Please report back with what you find.

Another idea: are you running any anti-virus software?

Hello again,

I went and tested those things you asked. For Safari, I have no extensions installed for it other than “Updates” which I believe is default. I disabled it all anyway. For Chrome I have a few but disabled them as well and uninstalled DropBox and Android File Transfer.

After creating a new user account on the machine, opening the installer and clicking “Preview” shows the screensaver pretty much instantly, give or take 1 or 2 seconds. Opening Safari and dragging the video directly from desktop to browser also plays instantly.

The computers also don’t have any anti-virus software running on them.

On the test account (where you say it only takes 1-2 seconds to hit the Preview button) how long does it take if you Install the screensaver and use the HotCorner?

Unfortunately, installing it and activating via Hot Corner takes ~30 seconds. Same with leaving the computer alone to let the screensaver kick back in on its own.

EDIT: If it helps at all, the screen isn’t entirely black, it shows a faint “…” toward the top of the screen as it waits to load.

I also tested on some Windows PCs and they seem to start right away with some caveats if you could help me resolve that issue as well.

Installation is easy, most PCs prompt QuickTime to be installed if it isn’t already and that’s fine. Previewing the screensaver after the install also plays instantly however the screensaver won’t kick in after the 1 minute “Wait” time I specify for screensavers. I tried some things which seemed to resolve the issue such as restarting the computer and then changing the “Wait” time from say 1 to 2 minutes and hitting “Apply” will work but I fear new users installing the screensaver will become frustrated if they can’t figure out how to resolve the issue or why the screensaver won’t work out of the box. Any thoughts on why this might be the case?

On mac : the 30 second pause is really strange. I’ve had a chance to test it on our test machines (a mix of stock OS installs as well as real-world systems in day-to-day use) and never seen anything longer than a few seconds. I have some more ideas here and I’ll email you some suggestions.

On Windows: Windows has a built in “feature” which is that if it sees you activating and then stopping a screensaver rapidly, it changes the delay time for you, secretly, without indication. This is probably what you are seeing.

So, for both situations, the short answer is : it should work fine under normal use.

Update: thanks to the client who helped us discover that a third-party product made by http://www.labtechsoftware.com appears to be causing the issue. Removal of that product solves the problem.

Hello, this is happening to us as well. The screensaver was created using only 6 images (JPEG), when previewing or letting it run on a Mac it will take about 30 seconds to load.
The strangest thing is that we downloaded a trial, tested the screensaver in several Macs and it worked just fine. We then purchased and registered our copy, rebuilt the screensaver and now it takes 30 seconds to load on all the Mac computers we tested here so far.
Please help!