Instagram Screensaver

I like to think I have a unique screensaver on my Mac. Not because it is especially showy or anything, but rather because it is a very personal screensaver.

When my screensaver comes on, it starts showing all the pictures I have liked on Instagram in the past 2 months. I follow several nature photographers along with my friends, so my screensaver always has familiar smiling faces and beautiful, amazing shots of nature.

Screensaver GIF

I use a series of services and programs to turn the photos I like on Instagram into a screensaver, such as: IFTTT, Dropbox, and Hazel. Below I will detail what I do to set up each service to get this screensaver.


The first thing to do is set up a folder in Dropbox to hold all the photos. I choose to make my folder in the location ~/Dropbox/Photos/Instagram Likes. Then, if you use selective sync, just ensure that your folder is set to sync to your computer.


The next task is to set up IFTTT to listen for new likes on Instagram and to then save them into the folder you've set up in Dropbox. Use the recipe I've created below:

IFTTT Recipe: Save Instagram likes to Dropbox connects instagram to dropbox


If you would like to limit the number of photos that are kept in rotation in the screensaver, it's good to use a program like Hazel to auto delete old photos. I like a pretty big number of photos on Instagram, so to keep the number of photos in rotation manageable I use Hazel to delete the photos that have been in that folder for over 2 months.

Open the Hazel preferences pane (located in System Preferences) and add the Dropbox folder you created earlier to Hazel's folder pane.

Hazel Instructions

Once you've done that, all you have left to do is make the recipe. You can make the same recipe I have below or you can change it up to fit how you want yours to work.

Hazel Recipe


Once all that is complete it's time to set up your screensaver! Navigate to System Preferences > Desktop & Screensaver > Screensaver. Scroll down and select "Shifting Tiles" as your screensaver and in the source option choose the folder where your Instagram likes will be placed.

I also chose to select "Shuffle slide order" to keep the screensaver pretty fresh looking. If you do not select that option it will always pull in images in order from the oldest to the newest.

Update: November 6, 2016

On June 1, 2016, Instagram updated their API, and as a result, the IFTTT recipe I had created earlier no longer works. I at first resigned myself to not being able to retrieve any new Instagram likes to use for my screensaver. Recently, however, I discovered a solution.


Zapier is a service in the same vein as IFTTT. You set up a services to be monitored as triggers, and services to be used for actions to be taken when a trigger activates. The recipes we know and love from IFTTT are known as Zaps on Zapier.

What I was able to do was set up a Zap that will monitor my Instagram account, and if new liked media is discovered (there is no differentiation between videos and pictures), that new media will be added to the same Dropbox folder I was using before. There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using Zapier, but once the Zap is set up, it runs on its own without maintenance.

Since Zapier doesn't differentiate between pictures and videos when checking for new liked media, you can use Hazel to monitor for any video files and then delete them for you.

Hazel Recipe

That's pretty much it! With this update, I am able to continue keeping my screensaver up to date and keep my computer pretty when I'm not using it.

Example screenshot of screensaver

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Nathan Ansel

Nathan Ansel

Nathan is an iOS Developer that has a passion for making beautiful, well developed apps. He loves Swift, fitness, and playing video games. He can be found on twitter at nathan3o4.