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Step 3: Configure Power Options

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Create Your Own Windows XP Screen Saver Slideshow

Overview/What You Need

  1. Enable the Slideshow Screen Saver
  2. Configure My Pictures Slideshow Screen Saver Options
  3. Configure Windows Power Saving Options (Viewing)

The final step is to consider your power saving options. Unless your change these options, your screen saver will only show for 10 minutes.

Windows, by default, starts your screensaver after 10 minutes of your computer being idle. Ten minutes later, Windows power saving feature turns your monitor off. This gives you a mere 10 minutes to enjoy your screen saver!

On the other hand, it is a waste of energy to never turn your monitor off. It's not likely that anyone is watching your screen saver from midnight to 5am. Therefore, it probably doesn't make sense to waste energy and wear down your monitor for a screen saver no one is enjoying.

In this step, you'll learn how to strike a balance between having time to enjoy your screensaver and saving energy.


Power Options Window

Bring up the "Power Options" window by clicking the "Power" button at the bottom of the Screen Saver Settings window (see step 1 if you need help bringing up the Screen Saver Settings window).

Windows XP Start Menu with the Control Panel item highlighted.
Power Options Properties Window

Open this window by clicking the "Power" button in the main screen saver window (see step 1).


The Power Options dialog box tells Windows to take various power saving actions after the computer hasn't been used for a specified period of time. Two (or possibly three) of these actions will prevent you from enjoying your screen saver. The trick is configure these time periods to be longer that the Wait period on your screen saver (described in step 2). How much longer is a personal choice.

The actions that will interfere with your screensaver are:

  • Turn Off Your Monitor

    This is typically the first power saving action taken by Windows. When the monitor is turned off, the computer itself continues running at full power. As soon as your press any key or move the mouse, the monitor power is restored.

  • System Standby

    This is an extremely low-power mode where the normal processing is halted, nearly all attached peripherals are powered off and only enough electricity is running through the computer to listen for the signal to resume full power. There are several ways to return to return to full power, though they very from computer to computer. Typically the space bar or the power button will resume normal operation.

  • System Hibernates (typically on laptops only)

    In hibernate mode, the computer is completely powered off. Before entering hibernate mode, the system memory and state is saved to your hard drive. When Windows starts back up, the system state is restored. This feature is typically only enabled on a laptop, though it is available on desktop systems.

Your Power Options window may be simpler than the one shown above. On a laptop, there are two time periods per action: one when the computer is plugged in and one when the computer is on batteries. On a desktop computer, there is only one time period per action.

Laptops sometimes have custom software to handle your power saving options (Toshiba laptops are a good example of this). If this is the case for you, the options you are looking for are still the same, they may just be found in another place. Refer to your laptop instructions for details.


Energy Savings vs. Screen Saver Enjoyment

When your screensaver is running two things are always true: Your computer is running at full power and you are not using your computer.

When installing a screen saver, the assumption is that there are times when you want your computer screen to be entertaining when not in use. But in almost every situation, there will be times during the day when no one will be around to enjoy the entertainment.

The question you need to ask yourself is: After I stop using my computer how long do I want it to be entertaining? 2 hours? 4 hours? Always?

In a home environment, no one is likely see your screen saver after your household goes to bed. In an office environment, no one will see it after everyone goes home.

The choice is yours. Just remember that leaving your computer and monitor running at full power is costing you money both in your energy bill and in wear and tear on your computer.



Create Your Own Windows XP Screen Saver Slideshow

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Originally Published:  Monday, October 16, 2006, 5:00 PM PT

Last Updated:  Monday, June 27, 2011, 8:31 PM PT

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