Flickr Screensavers on Mac OS X

How to get a usable RSS feed from Flickr, and make it a screensaver on OS X.

By Matthew Malinowski, 2013-09-11


Yesterday Mark Frauenfelder posted "Fantastic photos of bees' heads" about the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab's Flickr account. It really is amazing. I wanted to use these images as a screensaver. Not so easy to figure out, but possible.

These instructions should work for any photostream that has big images you want to use.

First, you need the RSS feed of your Flickr photostream. As of right now, that's in this form:

http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=user_id@N00&lang=en-us&format=rss_200

Replace user_id with the user_id of the Photostream you want. In our case, BIML's user_id is 51996426@N00, so our RSS feed is:

http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=51996426@N00&lang=en-us&format=rss_200`

But, this RSS feed only has thumbnails, we need bigger images.

Next, to get our bigger images, we turn to Yahoo Pipes. User aeryn has made us a nice pipe that does what we want already, we don't even need to do anything. Go look at the pipe, paste in your RSS feed URL, and enter Large or Original in Size. (Note that some feeds don't have large/original images, and Flickr will return blanks.) Click Run Pipe. If you did this properly, you should see the images you want down below. If you're satisfied, click Get as RSS. Copy this URL.

The following applies to Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and iPhoto '11 (9.4.3). Apple changes this stuff constantly so your mileage may vary:

Next, open iPhoto. (I know, weird.) Go to File > Subscribe to Photo Feed, and paste in your Pipes-generated URL. It'll add and download some images. Double click the subscription to edit the name if you want.

Next, open System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver, and choose Screen Saver. Select your image slideshow of choice (i.e. Classic). Under Source, choose Photo Library. Select the RSS feed you added in the dialog that comes up. All done!


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