Roku's scrolling city screensaver has become iconic, but there are hundreds of other options to choose from.
Anyone who's ever drifted off while watching a sixth straight episode of Stranger Things on their Roku device has likely woken up to Roku City, Roku's endless scrolling screensaver of a city skyline that's filled with Easter eggs -- clever visual references to various iconic movies. But if you've caught all the movie references and are ready for a change of pace, did you know you can swap out your Roku screensaver?
In fact, Roku streaming devices and smart TVs allow you to not only switch your screensaver, but also to customize your wallpaper, system sounds and overall theme. You can venture out to the Wild West, travel under the sea or even launch into outer space with Roku's several other built-in theme packs -- which change your system wallpaper, default sounds and screensaver, all in one.
Additionally, you can choose from more than 60 individual wallpapers and hundreds of screensavers made by users, from photo galleries of the Blue Ridge mountains to smart screensavers that display the time and weather. Most are free, but some do charge a fee.
But how do you change your screensaver? Can you customize your theme pack? Are any of the paid options worth it? If you're ready to take some time away from Roku City, let's explore.
If you're looking to change any part of your theme, you'll first navigate to your Roku settings. From the Roku sidebar on the left side of your home screen, scroll up from Home to Settings.
From settings, scroll down to Theme. Once you're there, you'll see a dropdown menu with options for Theme packs, wallpapers, screensavers and sounds. Clicking on any of these will give you a list of options to choose from.
Theme packs created by Roku change your home-screen wallpaper, screensaver and system sounds all at once. There are six themed options including Western, Jungle, Space and Kids.
For example, the Western theme changes Roku's iconic remote click into guitar strums, while the background becomes a scene of a tumbleweed-filled, one-horse town. The screensaver is of a lonesome cowboy trekking through the Wild West. This screensaver is also chock-full of Western movie Easter eggs.
But suppose you love the Space theme but hate its system sounds, or you just aren't impressed by any of the six options. In that case, there's more customization you can do.
Roku gives you the option to change your wallpaper, screensaver and sound settings separately. You'll find all of these directly under Theme packs in the Theme section of settings. From there, you'll see a gallery of different thumbnail themes. Click one and you'll see the option to preview, download and set the theme.
You'll notice that there's quite a few more wallpapers and screensavers than there are theme packs -- hundreds more, in fact. Many screensavers are custom-made by developers not associated with Roku. These can typically range from $1 to $3 each, which is billed to your Roku account.
While there are some cool paid screensavers, such as Weather Screensaver, which shows you the time, location, and your local weather forecast, you can generally find a good free alternative.
Those hoping to get more sound options might be disappointed. There are only nine sounds to choose from, all of which are made by Roku, but you can pair any of them with whatever wallpaper or theme you want.
Obviously you can switch out your theme as much as you like, but if you simply want to return to the Roku default settings, there's an easy fix for that. Similar to when you change your theme, navigate to Settings, then Theme. From the dropdown menu, you'll see a button that says Restore default theme. Click it, and your theme will return to its original look.
Roku OS 11, released in March, added photo streams, which allow you to add photos from your mobile device to a slideshow on your TV screen. Roku also allows you to set your photo stream of choice as your screensaver. This is one of Roku's featured screensavers, so it's easy to find. You can add your photos by visiting photostreams.roku.com, and enjoy them both as your screensaver, and any time in the Photo Stream app.
This is great for folks who want to keep up on the daily headlines, but don't have a lot of time to actively take it in. Haystack swaps out your screensaver for a moving carousel of today's headlines from multiple news sources along with accompanying visuals. You can also enter your location with Haystack to get local weather news, a feature typically only found on paid screensavers. (If you live in a smaller town without a major network, you'll likely just get the forecast and local news from the nearest big city.)
If there's no clock in your living room, this can be a surprisingly helpful use of your screensaver. Roku has two options, with a digital and analog interface.
It's simple, but it's useful. If you don't have a Roku TV that can shut your device off after a certain amount of time, you can at least "snooze" your screen with this simple black screensaver. Just make sure you check your TV is actually off before you go to sleep.
Roku is known for its no-frills approach to streaming, but it still offers plenty of useful features. Check out how to use Roku's closed captioning replay feature, find a lost Roku remote and listen to TV audio through your headphones or speakers.