Mac Software

How do I create a keyboard shortcut to start a Mac screensaver?

laptop computer near plant
Screen shortcut: activate your screensaver from the keyboard

Whilst keyboard shortcuts exist for most things on a Mac, including locking the device, there is no such shortcut for activating the currently assigned screensaver.

As I have my screensaver set up to also lock my MacBook, I would prefer to use this in preference to just locking it. Thankfully, there is a solution.

Time needed: 2 minutes

Setting up a keyboard shortcut for a Mac screensaver

  1. Launch the Automator app, which comes with all Macs

    Select the Quick Action option and then click on the “Choose” button.Screenshot of MacOS settings with "Quick Action" highlighted.

  2. Add the Screensaver as a service

    On the next screen, type “Start Screen Saver” into the search box. Click the result into the box on the right. Finally, change “Workflow receives current” to “no input”, before clicking on File > Save in the Menu bar. Give the automation a name of “Start Screen Saver”.Screenshot of the Quick Action menu

  3. Assign a keyboard shortcut to your new service

    Head into System Preferences > Keyboard and then click on the “Shortcuts” tab. If you’re using MacOS 13 (Ventura) or later, you will need to access System Settings > Keyboard and then click on the “Keyboard Shortcuts…” button.
    On the left-hand side of the screen that appears, click on Services and, on the right, find the new “Start Screen Saver” service that you created previously. To the right of it should be a button which says “Add Shortcut”. Click on this and record a key combination that you want to use to activate your screensaver.Screenshot of the keyboard shortcuts menu in MacOS

And that’s it! Stabbing that keyboard shortcut will now kick off the screensaver on your Mac. You can use the same technique too for other things which may not have shortcuts assigned to them.

By the way, you can also use the Mac’s Hot Corners facility to activate a screensaver. That means you can drag the mouse into, say, the top-right corner of the screen to make the screensaver kick in. To set this up, open System Preference and search for ‘hot corners’ and you’ll find the facility in the screensaver menu.

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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