capsule review

My Living Desktop uses video for your Mac's desktop

At a Glance
  • Amuse My Living Desktop

My Living Desktop is unlike any other application on your Mac. It is a hybrid live wallpaper and screen saver, a Zen moment in the midst of the cluttered folders of your computer.

The application features tranquil scenes from nature, including tropical beach scenes, the Swiss Alps, and nesting seagulls, which appear as your desktop background. Each scene features a looped video and matching audio track and makes for an engaging diversion from the monotony of your daily computing routine. The wind whips and howls over the Swiss Alps in one scene; the water laps against the dock in another, a tropical scene.

If you grow tired of the application’s default scenes, you can purchase extra scenes from the developer Amuse’s Scene Store website. Most individual scenes sell for $4, although multi-scene packs are also available in the $12 to $15 range. Scenes can be previewed in the store, too.

Here's an example of My Living Desktop at work, on an iMac.

You also have the option to import any of your own videos into My Living Desktop. I tested this feature by importing a video of my dog, and the video played smoothly. The importing and processing tasks took only a few minutes to complete. This feature alone may be worth the app’s purchase price for many users.

I did experience some minor glitches while testing My Living Desktop. Although I only installed the application on my (admin) user account on my Mac, I heard the program’s audio running in the background while using a different account, even when the program was not running on either account. The audio went away when I switched back to my primary account, however.

My Living Desktop's Serenity Break feature reminds you to stop and reflect, at regular intervals.
As with any video intensive application, My Living Desktop can be a bit of a resource hog. When testing the application using the default settings, I found that My Living Desktop used almost 25 percent of my Mac’s CPU usage at peak times, according to Activity Monitor. Usage dropped to about 16 percent when I opted for the software’s Reduce CPU Usage setting.

[Editor’s note: According to the developer, the reading that we saw in Activity Monitor is based on activity within a single core. On a Mac with multiple cores, the percentage is lower. For example, on a quad core Mac, the usage would be 4 to 6 percent of overall total CPU usage.]

Amuse includes a feature called Serenity Breaks that, if selected, basically set an alert that pops up to tell you to take a break from whatever you’re doing. You can set the Serenity Breaks to appear at regular intervals. Or you can turn it off.

Macworld’s buying advice

My Living Desktop adds beauty and artistry (or hilarity, sorrow, glee, etc., if you use your own video) to you Mac’s desktop.

Editor's note: Updated 2/24/12 with information about CPU usage. The mouse rating remains unchanged.

[Brendan Wilhide is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]

This story, "My Living Desktop uses video for your Mac's desktop" was originally published by Macworld.

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At a Glance
  • Amuse My Living Desktop

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