Over the last year or so I've posted quite a few startupscreens to 
info-mac. One consequence of this is to get a flood of email asking
questions about how to use the screens, how to create them and so on.
The following is a list of answers to the most common questions.

   Frequently asked questions about startupscreens and desktop pictures.

1) I have a startupscreen, how do I get it to work?

   A-- Rename the file to "startupscreen" (no quotes) and put in in your 
   system folder. The next time you reboot it will be displayed.

2) I tried that and the startupscreen looked terrible on my SE/30. All 
   black and horrible.

   A-- You probably downloaded and tried to use a *colour* startupscreen. 
   These look pretty poor on B&W screens. There are some decent B&W 
   startupscreens around, why don't you try one of those? Or you could 
   always make your own.

3) Great, so how do I make my own startupscreen?

   A-- A startupscreen is just a PICT file with ID=0 so to make your own 
   you can take any PICT file and use ResEdit to change the ID to zero 
   (open the PICT resource, get info, change the ID number to zero). The 
   easy way is to use one of the painting/drawing applications that are able
   to save files as startupscreens. PixelPaint, SuperPaint, and GifConverter
   are a few examples of the many applications that can do this. However,
   ALL painting applications (and most GIF viewers) can save as PICT (the
   macintosh standard) so you can then use method 1 to get your startupscreen.

4) I tried using GifConverter to save as a startupscreen and all I got was an
   ugly black and white screen. Why?

   A-- When you save a colour GIF using GifConverter you must first go to
   Options... under the Special menu and set the startupscreen to Mac II
   (color) or it will default to B&W. BTW, don't forget that GifConverter
   is shareware.

5) I have this terrific GIF of Ronald Reagan bungee jumping naked (please
   don't email me asking for this, I just made it up) but when I made it
   into a startupscreen it looked terrible. Why?

   A-- Ronald never looks as good on the small screen, even fully dressed
   :-) No, the real reason involves the way colours are displayed on the 
   screen. Colour monitors can actually display millions of colours but if 
   you have a computer limited to 256 colours you can only display 256 
   different colours *at the same time*. GIF programs select the 256 colours
   to best represent the GIF being viewed, which means for a picture of 
   someones face the 256 colours might be mainly various shades of skin
   tones. Some GIFs look as clear as photographs because of this.

   Startupscreens use the 256 predetermined colours of the system palette.
   Thus, any GIF that has many shades of the same colour will usually make
   a poor startupscreen. For example, a person's face using 100 different 
   shades of brown will be converted to the dozen shades of brown in the
   system palette with the loss of resolution.

   I have found that generally the best pictures for startupscreens are
   those with limited numbers of colours (eg. cartoons).

6) I have a bunch of cool startupscreens, can I use them as desktops as well?

   A-- Yes. Several utilities can do this. Deskpict (in the Sumex archive 
   info-mac/ex/deskpict-11.hqx) and Backdrop (info-mac/ex/backdrop.hqx) 
   are two examples in the shareware archives. A commercial version of 
   Deskpict (a control panel called Deskpicture) comes bundled with several
   other very useful utilities in the Now Utilities package. There are other 
   commercial extensions that do this also; shop around for the package that 
   suits you best. Each of the above comes with instructions on how to get
   the deskpicture displayed. Beware, both Deskpict and Backdrop are quite 
   old now and may not run well with system 7 and some extensions.

7) I've downloaded deskpict-11 from Sumex and now have a great desktop but
   my hard disk icon keeps disappearing, what gives?

   A-- You get what you pay for :-) Seriously, this is a known problem with
   Deskpict-11 and it has been solved with the commercial version (Now's 
   Deskpicture) but is unlikely to be fixed with the old shareware version. 
   Solutions? Put up with the missing/chopped-up icon or shell out for Now 

8) I have dozens of great startupscreens/deskpictures -- can I get a random
   one on each startup?

   A-- Yes you can. Now's Deskpicture is a control panel that allows random 
   deskpictures on multiple screens. Or if you want to save a few bucks get 
   Randomizer (info-mac/ex/randomizer-12.hqx) and follow these simple 
   instructions. Create a folder in your system folder called Screens and
   put all your startupscreens in there (they can be named anything). Next,
   you need to put a screen in the system folder (called startupscreen).
   Then when you restart the startupscreen will be displayed and randomizer 
   will select a random file from the Screens folder and rename it to 
   "startupscreen" and overwrite your original screen ready for the next 

   For those who like to play with ResEdit, you can open up Randomizer,
   open the STR# resource, then open the STR# resource 2001 (Files then 
   Folders). You will be presented with a list of strings with first the 
   filename then the folder name (eg. for startupscreens the first string
   is startupscreen and the second is :Screens). You can add to these such
   things as Deskpicture and :deskpicts (to randomly choose a deskpicture
   from a folder called deskpicts), and sound and :soundfiles (to randomly
   choose a sound from a folder called soundfiles), and so on.

   While you have Randomizer open you can open the LAYO resource and set
   the "Pick files randomly" bit to either 1 (random) or 0 (sequential) 
   depending on your taste.

9) OK, I braved ResEdit and did all that but now I'm not getting either a 
   startupscreen or a deskpicture -- what happened?

   A-- You forgot to put an initial startupscreen and deskpicture in your 
   system folder. Randomizer will only *overwrite* a file that's there, it
   will not create one from scratch.

10) My startupscreen is coming out black and white and looks gross, what

    A-- I don't know why the technical reasons why this happens (and who
    cares anyway:-) but this is how you fix it. Go into the monitors control
    panel and set your monitor to black and white and then back to 256
    colours. Next time you reboot all should be well.

11) Now my mac looks awesome and my pee-cee friends are green with envy. How
    can I share my joy with the rest of the mac world.

    A-- If you find or create an especially nice startupscreen why not post
    it to info-mac and share it with everybody.

12) Well I decided to post a great GIF I found but when I stuffed/compacted
    the GIF it came out larger! What did I do wrong?

    A-- GIFs are already a compressed format (this is too complex to go into
    here) so trying to stuff them is like trying to stuff a compact pro
    archive -- it gets you nowhere. Post the binhexed GIF directly or, if
    you prefer, create the startupscreen and stuff/compact that and post it.

12) Where can I find a good supply of GIFs?

    A-- This is getting off the topic a little but wuarchive.wustl.edu
    stores several hundred GIFs (in binary format) if you want to look
    through them. Have fun.


paul@carbon.chem.csiro.au -------------------------------- Australian Science
CSIRO, Division of Chemicals & Polymers ------------------ Australia's Future