Timeless Thoughts: Screenmates/Deskmates

Timeless Thoughts is a monthly linkup hosted by Georgie and Tara, where bloggers write about something from their past – it could be an item, a place, an event – anything that evokes a trip down memory lane. Timeless Thoughts is held on the first Saturday of the month, and runs for two weeks.

Tara hosted Timeless Thoughts this month!

Listening to Linkin Park always reminds me of when I was in the eighth grade, heavily obsessed with the rap metal band that my then-boyfriend was a fan of. It was a time I grew my music taste significantly, and I would blast somewhat rebellious, underground music from the speakers in my room almost every weeknight.

At the time, I had a PC with the biggest screen you could get at the time (21 inches). My desktop was not complete without a Linkin Park wallpaper, desktop icons neatly arranged, a silver Windows XP theme, and a slightly-out-of-place screenmate. Maybe even more than one.

But what is a screen mate?

Screenmates were small computer applications, only a few kilobytes in file size, that placed a small, animated character on your computer screen. Some were cats, some were dogs, many were Sanrio characters. You could interact with the screenmate by clicking on it. Usually it was moving around your desktop slowly enough so you could click it, but there was sometimes an option to speed it up. Sometimes the deskmate would make a cute face or jump or do some kind of action when you clicked it, satistified that you acknowledged it. Some, like a white cat named Neko, followed your mouse around slowly.

Example of orange Favour Cat Silver Cat screenmate FaFa Cat screenmate

One of my favourites was a cute orange cat called Favour Cat, that would sometimes just sit, sometimes it would crawl around and swish its tail, and sometimes it would claw and slide down the screen with its back to me. Two other variations on the cat were Silver Cat (though technically blue) and FaFa Cat.

The screenmates were really cute. They brightened up your computer, and made it feel like you had a little pet walking around on your screen. There were many variations of a cat screenmate, and there was also a notorious bouncing sheep. I think the cars were very common. Sometimes you could open many instances of a screenmate and have them litter your screen.

Screenshot of a desktop with some screenmates
This person totally has the right idea. Image from m2mdoh.

I remember opening the screenmate application every time I started up my computer, but over time, I forgot about it. It rarely became a distraction. I don’t think screenmates were compatible with Macs, since they were usually .exe files, but I wouldn’t mind having a play with one again! I’ve actually found a blog that links to a handful of screenmates (including Silver Cat and FaFa Cat) so you can go ahead and download them if you’re on a Windows system. :D

If you want to download my favourite Favour Cat, you can visit SilverMeow.com.

Have you ever heard of screenmates or deskmates?

Comments on this post

That sheep was my jam back in the day. I loved how you could click the application multiple times and have literally dozens of sheep wandering around along the bottom of your screen. Just recently I found a link to download it again so now I have a little buddy to accompany me while I work. I only wish he’d wander between all three of my screens instead of just the main one.

These are adorable! I found, in the later days of my laptop, that I much prefer a clean desktop because I would always just stuff things into folders and “deal with them later”, even though I never dealt with them. I don’t think I’d install screenmates onto my replacement laptop, if it’s a Windows—or even my future Windows’ computer—but the idea of screenmates are definitely adorable. ❤️

Nope, I have never heard of these O_o I guess I somehow missed these guys when they were popular! They’re quite cute, so I can see why they were appealing! I don’t like things moving on my desktop, so I’d never put one, but I can definitely see how some people would love them! :D

I think I’ve seen those before, but I never used them on my own computer. They’re really cute! I did used to download really rubbish wallpapers for my desktop though. Now I just stick to the preset one, because anything else is a bit too distracting. Especially some of the ones I used to download when I first started blogging. Ugh, so horrible.

It’s so weird that decorating your desktop used to be so important. I can’t imagine spending my time doing that now – I have far too much I need to do. I definitely miss being a teenager and having that amount of free time though. I think I used to blog every day back then. I can barely manage once a week now!

Haha, I had completely forgotten about these! XD They were so popular when I was a kid. I remember having the sheep one on several computers.
I actually tried downloading it from that page you linked, but it doesn’t seem to work on Windows 10. Bummer, it would’ve been fun to see it jump around my screen again. :)

Ah! I remember screenmates! I think I still have a couple saved somewhere on my computer. I wonder if they still work! I used to love them when I was younger and would always have some on my screen. I have the same sheep one in your screenshot, and I think my favorite was a Pikachu :)

I love those “throwback” songs that remind us of ourselves back in the day. Oh man, I remembered those Windows XP days! It was pretty awesome XD.

I remembered seeing screenmates on a lot of computers! I didn’t know that there were kitty ones :3. For some reason, this reminded me of websites back in the mid-2000’s where people customized their cursors to be some fancy pixel pointer. The cats are so cute!!!!

My deskmate was some angel doll. She was adorable and have some kind of audio playing when you click her XD.

I think this was around the same era as the custom cursor era! 😂 I knew you would love the cats. 😻

I used to have a screen mate too. OMG It feels so good to know someone who had it too. ♥

21 inch is indeed big at the time. I had a 19” (those old square shaped ones) for years till I started working and could afford to buy a new wide screen monitor.

This post really reminds me of all the crazy screen savers, wallpapers, and add ons I had on my PC. I remember changing my Firefox theme weekly. Nowadays, most people go for simple and minimalist design and style…we’ve come a long way!

Haha omg Linkin Park! I used to love them so much too. wow, all those times listening to emo bands like simple plan and stuff, brings back memories. I still listen to some bands today – like fall out boy and all time low but not so much on stuff like Linkin Park anymore. *gone hipster lol jk*

I USED TO BE A SCREEN MATE ADDICT HAHAHAHA oh man, so nostalgic. I’d download a ton of different screen mates and be like “omg this is so cute!!!!1!!!” LOL thinking about that again makes me laugh now :)) I can’t remember the ones I downloaded or the one I really love though.

P.S: it’s yo gurl Alice B. I decided to go with my real name now since there are quite a few Alice around the internet and well, yeah…to avoid the confusion, lol.

Hahaha yes! I used to listen to many “emo” bands as well, especially when I was still in school.

I loved finding new screenmates and adding them to my computer and opening so many of them. So much entertainment over something so small. Hahaha.

I only knew one other Alice, but that’s understandable. 💖 I’ve yet to meet another Georgie, online or offline haha.

Long, long ago They had little sheep and the energizer bunny. These actually did things, not just show up. I had that bunny and it began to multiply and it was a mess.