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Setting a Screen Saver

A screen saver is a utility that causes a monitor to blank out or display images after a specified time passes without keyboard or mouse activity. (Pressing a key or moving the mouse deactivates the screen saver.) Screen savers were developed originally to prevent hardware damage to your monitor, but today’s monitors don’t need that, so modern screen savers provide decoration or entertainment instead. A screen saver also can password-protect your computer and hide your screen when it takes effect.

To set a screen saver

Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display > Screen Saver tab (Figure 4.22).

Figure 4.22. Set your screen saver’s wait time carefully so your boss won’t realize how long it’s been since you did anything.


Right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Properties > Screen Saver tab.

Select a screen saver in the list.

(To turn off the screen saver, select None, click OK, and skip the remaining steps.)

Specify how long your computer must be idle before the screen saver activates.

Try 10 to 15 minutes.

Click Settings to see any options for the selected screen saver—to change color or animation style, for example.

(Optional) Check On Resume, Password Protect (or On Resume, Display Welcome Screen) to display a logon window when you begin using your computer after screen-saver activation.

Click Preview to see a full-screen preview of the screen saver.

Press a key or move your mouse to end the test.

Click OK (or Apply).

✓ Tips

  • Your screen-saver password is the same as your logon password. If you have no logon password, you can’t set a screen-saver password.

  • Appearances aside, screen savers—particularly complex ones such as 3D Flying Objects and 3D Pipes—waste energy and processor time. To save resources, turn off your monitor manually or automatically after a certain period of inactivity. See “Conserving Power” later in this chapter.

To use personal pictures as a screen saver

Make sure you have two or more pictures in a folder on your computer (usually, your My Pictures folder).

On the Screen Saver tab (refer to Figure 4.22), choose My Pictures Slideshow from the Screen Saver drop-down list.

Click Settings to specify the folder containing your pictures, define picture size, and set other options (Figure 4.23).

Figure 4.23. My Pictures Slideshow scrolls through all the pictures in the selected folder.

Click OK in each open dialog box.

✓ Tip

  • Tweak UI’s Logon > Screen Saver option lets you dismiss a screen saver within a few-second grace period without prompting you for your password. See the “Tweak UI” sidebar in “Using the Start Menu” in Chapter 2.

Idly Folding Proteins

Forget screen savers. Instead, put your idle PC to work solving great math and science problems. By participating in distributed—or grid—computing projects you (and thousands of others) donate bits of your computer’s spare processing power to large-scale, not-for-profit research projects. It’s fascinating, free, and doesn’t interfere with your normal computer use. Visit www.grid.org or http://gridcafe.web.cern.ch to learn about grid projects worldwide. You’ll find projects for researching cancer, AIDS, anthrax, and smallpox; predicting climate change; searching for ETs; folding proteins; finding prime numbers; and more.

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