Installation and uninstallation

Using Aerial Companion

Aerial comes packaged as an application called Aerial Companion that installs and keep the screensaver updated. This application also provides many of the extra features such as the video wallpaper integration. And you bet it's also open source!

To install simply grab the latest release, look for it in your user's Downloads folder, unzip (it may be already unzipped depending on your web browser/settings) and move Aerial to your /Applications folder. Then launch it!

At first launch, you will have the choice of having the updates automatically happening in the background, or to have the app in your menubar. If you want to try the video wallpaper integration, please pick the menubar option.


Good question!

If you have used Aerial for a while, you may remember that in version 1.5.0, I had introduced an auto-update mechanism directly into the screen saver.

While this worked for a while, Apple introduced changes in how screen savers operate with macOS 10.15 Catalina. Those security changes are good and were needed, but they had the unfortunate consequence of breaking the auto-update mechanism.

While I still patiently wait for a new screen saver API from Apple, in the meantime, I ended up making this new Companion to fill the gap. It also makes the initial installation easier and gives you a quick access to your screen saver settings from the menu bar. And starting with version 1.2, you can also run Aerial fullscreen on one monitor while you keep working on the other one!

An ever better question!

The honest answer would be that there are never any certainty when it comes to security.

Some generalities, both the screen saver and the Companion app are signed and notarized by/with Apple, as its now required. They are signed with my personal Developer Apple ID (Guillaume Louel).

How does it work, technically speaking?

I store a manifest file on GitHub that contains the version number of the latest release, and also the sha256 of the releases. This is generated automatically on my Mac, after Aerial gets notarized for distribution and before I upload a new version on Aerial's releases page.

Periodically, Aerial Companion checks the manifest to see if a new version was released. When you decide to perform an update, the following happens:

  • Aerial Companion uses the version number from the manifest to infer the download link from Aerial's repository (the download links are always of the same format, so version 1.9.2 will be available at
  • The zip file is downloaded to ~/Library/Application Support/AerialUpdater/
  • The sha256 of the file is computed, and compared to the one from the manifest
  • The zip is unzipped in place, looking for Aerial.saver
  • Aerial.saver is verified (using macOS codesigning) to be using the correct Bundle ID (com.JohnCoates.Aerial>)
  • Aerial.saver is verified (using macOS codesigning) to be signed/notarized with my Developer Apple ID.
  • If and only if everything checks out, then Aerial.saver gets copied to ~/Library/Screen Savers/ (a directory that is created if you don't have it). This replaces your old version or install fresh if you didn't have any. At that point, the new version is installed and ready to go!

While nothing is ever perfect, these checks add many layers of security to the classical methods of just downloading a zip from GitHub. If you think this method can be improved further more, please let me know, the code of the Companion and the update system is reviewable and is open source right here on GitHub.

Multiple users ?

Because of security changes in macOS, screensavers can't directly share settings or data between multiple user accounts and some (small) manual setup will be required from you. Please do the following on your first account:

  • Open System Settings, go to the screen saver panel and open Aerial's settings using the option button top right of the screen.
  • If you haven't done so already, click Advanced and pick your video format. We recommend using 4K 240FPS for all macs released after 2017. If your mac is older, check the help bubble for which setting is the most appropriate for you.
  • Click Cache on the left column.
  • Check Manually pick cache location and click Pick folder. This will open a folder picker.
  • Browse to /Users/Shared (please note that the folder name will be localized to your language) and press New folder at the bottom. Create an Aerial folder (this should be /Users/Shared/Aerial) then select it and pick Choose. Aerial will prompt you to reopen settings.

On your secondary accounts, do the following:

  • Open System Settings, go to the screen saver panel and open Aerial's settings using the option button top right of the screen.
  • Click Advanced and pick the same video format your did on your first account.
  • Click Cache on the left column.
  • Check Manually pick cache location and click Pick folder. This will open a folder picker.
  • Pick the /Users/Shared/Aerial that you created previously.
  • Uncheck Automatically download videos

Using this setup, Aerial will only download new videos from your primary account and they will be used and shared with all the users on your computer.

Using Homebrew

If you're looking to install Aerial across many systems, remotely, or simply from Terminal we recommend Homebrew.

With Homebrew installed, simply issue the following Terminal command:

brew install --cask aerial

To upgrade Aerial, run the following Terminal command:

brew upgrade --cask aerial

Please note that Homebrew updates may appear a bit delayed as they need to be individually submited and approved.

Warning: If you see that your settings aren't saved in Catalina, please check if this folder exists, you may need to create this folder manually : ~/Library/Containers/

Manually downloading from GitHub

Yes, you can still do that:

  1. Quit System Preferences (or System Settings on macOS 14+).
  2. Download the latest release of Alternatively, you can try the latest beta version following this link.
  3. Unzip the downloaded file (if you use Safari, it should already be done for you).
  4. Double-click Aerial.saver; it will open in System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver and ask you if you want to install for all users or for your user only. Pick for your user only. If you plan to use it in multiple accounts, it's highly recommended to install it for each user as settings cannot be shared. See the section about multiple users above for how to configure Aerial for this scenario.

Uninstallation and cleanup

Removing the cache

Aerial stores your videos in a local cache on your machine. It's location depends on the version of macOS you used, how you installed Aerial (for one user or multiple user) and when you first installed Aerial. You can find the location of the cache prior to uninstalling by going into Aerial's Cache settings.

Prior to macOS Catalina (10.15), the cache for multiple user was either:

  • /Library/Caches/Aerial (long time users)
  • /Library/Application Support/Aerial (if you installed for the first time after summer 2019)

Prior to macOS Catalina (10.15), the cache for a single user was either:

  • ~/Library/Caches/Aerial (long time users)
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Aerial (if you installed for the first time after summer 2019)

Starting with macOS Catalina (10.15), each user has a cache in it's own sandbox at this location (cache cannot be shared between multiple users because of security restrictions, see the multiple users section above on how to workaround that):

  • ~/Library/Containers/ Support/Aerial

Note: If you installed for multiple users using our setup above, delete the Aerial folder you created, /Users/Shared/Aerial.

Removing the preferences

The preference file is located either at:

  • ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/com.JohnCoates.Aerial.{UUID}.plist (before Catalina)
  • ~/Library/Containers/{UUID}.plist (starting with Catalina)


If you installed using the Companion, or manually, the uninstallation process is straightforward, simply right-click on the Aerial screen saver in System Preferences, and select Delete "Aerial". This will uninstall the screen saver automatically.

If you prefer, you can delete the files manually. macOS can store screen savers in two locations depending on your choices, /Library/Screen Savers (if you installed for All Users) and ~/Library/Screen Savers (installed for your user only). Check both locations for a file called Aerial.saver and delete any copies you find.

If you installed Aerial using Brew Cask, then enter the following command in a Terminal window to uninstall:

brew uninstall --cask aerial


Aerial is free and open-source. It was started in 2015 by John Coates

Since version 1.4, it's maintained by Guillaume Louel.