How to change the screen saver timeout for all users

Written by jason artman
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How to change the screen saver timeout for all users
Forcing a screen saver to appear when an employee is away from his or her computer can enhance network security. (chiave image by Walter71 from

When an employee is away from his or her computer at a business, that computer becomes a security vulnerability until it is locked. Although it is possible to lock a workstation manually, people often forget to do it. As a second line of defence, it is possible to configure Windows to lock the workstation and display a screen saver automatically after the computer is idle for a certain amount of time. Set the screen saver timeout using the Windows Group Policy Editor.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate
  • Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate

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  1. 1

    Press the Windows logo and "R" keys simultaneously. Type "gpedit.msc" without quotation marks in the box that appears. The Windows Group Policy Editor will open.

  2. 2

    Double-click the "Administrative Templates" and "Control Panel" folders under "User Configuration" to expand them. Click the "Display" folder under "Control Panel." You will see the "Screen Saver Timeout" option on the right side of the window.

  3. 3

    Double-click "Screen Saver Timeout."

  4. 4

    Click the "Enabled" radio button, then type the amount of time (in seconds) you would like Windows to wait before launching the screen saver automatically for all users. The default value is 900 seconds, or 15 minutes.

  5. 5

    Click "OK" to save your settings, then close the Group Policy Editor and restart the computer.

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