Installation and uninstallation

Using Aerial Companion

We highly recommend that you use the new Aerial Companion for install. It will automatically install, and update, your screensaver. You can choose whether updates should happen automatically in the background, or if you prefer to be notified. You can also pick whether you want an icon in the menu bar to notify you or not! And you bet it's open source!

Installing this way is super easy, the Companion is now available in a more familiar dmg format and it's really just a drag and drop :

If you need more help, check our FAQ here!



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.

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.
  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. I highly recommend you pick for your user only. Be aware that installing for all users will require a password at install and each subsequent update, including auto-updates and is not recommended for many reasons on 10.15 and after! Installing for all users will not make Aerial share the videos amongst multiple users post 10.15, since this is no longer possible with the security changes added by Apple.

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):

  • ~/Library/Containers/ Support/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.