Apple’s “Word of the Day” Screensaver – keeping us all equally smart - Macenstein

Apple’s “Word of the Day” Screensaver – keeping us all equally smart

I noticed this yesterday, and thought, this has “slow news day” written all over it.

Above: Odds are your Words of the Day today (Sunday, April 20th, 2008) are glengarry, reflexology, aperient, alopecia, and Houdini.

Like any true Mac geek, I have 3 Macs in my living room. When looking over at an old G4 PowerMac which had been left idle, I noticed that the word on the “Word of the Day” screensaver looked familiar. I moved my cursor down to my “hot corner of screensaver invocation”, and noticed my MacBook was displaying the same 5 words as the PowerMac. A quick test of a nearby Mac mini confirmed that (in my house at least) all my computers were showing me the same 5 words of the day. Now the only question ws, how is the screensaver choosing these words? Is it based off my IP address, Time Zone, date? I set my Mac’s clock ahead to the 22nd, and when I got the word “Kaput”, I got my answer. It’s the date.

Just to be double super secret extra sure, a quick IM to faithful Illinoisian (ie, Central time to my Eastern time) Macenstein reader Jordan, and it was confirmed, Apple wants us all to learn the same 5 words each day, no matter our location.

This is obviously Apple’s attempt to make sure all Mac people begin to talk in the same secret code language to further unify our community. For instance, this morning I was feeling a tad constipated, so I asked my wife for an “aperient” drug. Being a Mac user (and more importantly, a Word of the Day Screensaver user), The Bride of Macenstein was back in a flash with the proper medicine. Odds are Bill Gates’ wife would have just stared at him blankly while he writhed on the floor, wracked with stomach cramps had he tried to use that word.

You can test this yourself, if you are as bored as I am. Today’s words (Sunday, April 20th, 2008) are glengarry, reflexology, aperient, alopecia, and Houdini.

Oddly enough, out of these the only word Firefox’s spell check apparently knows is “Houdini” (see above). Maybe it should pay more attention to the screensaver…

14 Responses to “Apple’s “Word of the Day” Screensaver – keeping us all equally smart”
  1. You, my dear friend, have got way too much free time.

    Take the Bride of Macenstein to a dinner or something, would you?


  2. Troy Banther says:

    ” … any true Mac geek, I have 3 Macs in my living room … ”


    I have one in the house. A Mac Mini. I guess I’m not true enough.

    Seriously, since I work in education I really, really can’t afford extra machines.

    If anyone has extra Macs sitting in the closet collecting dust then they should consider recycling them to educators and support staff at educational institutions.

  3. Spikey says:

    well its not a living room anymore its sounds like a computer lab

  4. Hey, true Mac geek. I, too, have 3 Macs in the living room. And another 4 in the office upstairs. 🙂

  5. Omar Little says:

    Hello folks,
    I realize that the last post on here is from a year ago, so I won’t cry if I get no sort of response. I’ve have neurotic type symptoms with new words (reading the dictionary, hopping links on the Wikipedia, ie.) so when I stumbled across this screensaver, I had to have it. Indeed, I do have one simple issue with the thing. My computer stays running and it’s in my bedroom, so how do I make the background darker. I see examples of it, so I know it’s possible. If anyone sees this and knows anything, I would greatly appreciate a little note. Thanks to anyone.

  6. You could always turn down the brightness.
    I dont quite get you, you mean the back color of the screensaver?

  7. curious says:

    @Omar Little: Make a copy of the screensaver (/System/Library/Screen Savers/) to your local screensaver folder, open the screensaver in Quartz Composer and then drill into the “Background” patch. Alter the “Color” property on the “Billboard” sub-patch.

  8. sean says:

    aggravatingly disappointingly rudimentary spectrum and quantity of words. are there no actionable preferences for this screensaver, like levels of literacy or frequency of repeat? this could be such a useful utility but instead it’s just a doorstop.

  9. +1 with sean (above)—in fact I found this page looking for a way to add a custom wordlist to this screensaver.

    Anybody know how?

    I’m sure there are ways to have random words, from a custom list, appear as screensavers, but that’s not as good-looking or informative as Apple’s version.

    • Kenneth says:

      I realize this is an ancient post, but I think that it’s still a relevant question since the screen saver is still pretty popular.

      The list of words is found at /System/Library/Graphics/Quartz Composer Plug-ins/WOTD.plugin/Contents/Resources/NOAD_wotd_list.txt

      I’ve been hacking around inside this plugin trying to use the Italian dictionary in Mavericks and have found that it’s pretty touchy but it does seem to be okay with changing just the words in the list, even though I don’t really understand the purpose of the labels on them.

  10. J Skrilla says:

    I like the idea of this screensaver, but why are the words so darn simple? I do not need to know the definition for knee cap for example. Is there any way to change it to a “not a moron” setting? I would love this if it added a couple new words to my vocab rather than constantly making me laugh in disbelief. And I only have three macs, all in my office. i always donate the old ones to friends with pc’s.

  11. Russell says:

    Anyone know where to find the daily list of words that this screensaver uses? A customizable version of this would be great (background colors, fonts, etc).

    • Kenneth says:

      See my comment above to the nosleepingdog. In case you can’t find it for some reason, the path is: /System/Library/Graphics/Quartz Composer Plug-ins/WOTD.plugin/Contents/Resources/NOAD_wotd_list.txt

      As for the background colors, use Quartz Composer to open /System/Sreen Savers/WOTD.qtz and poke around if you’re familiar with that.

  12. mike says:

    a ‘word a day’ screen saver will not make or keep anyone ‘smart’. knowledgeable, perhaps, but only about words. intelligence is something different.

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