Windows 7 Screensaver Timeout

Since upgrading to Windows 7, on occasion I’ll find the screensaver timeout isn’t working.   The best security of course is to lock the computer when you walk away from it rather than relying on the timeout.     But when you’re home alone, it is convenient.

Searching the internet found a couple of interesting possibilities.   A wireless mouse issue causing “activity” to occur preventing the screensaver from coming on.   I don’t have a wireless mouse.   Fortunately the next link found was more helpful.   Some MagicJack users were finding the software was preventing their computer from dropping into hibernate and the screensaver wasn’t working either.   While I don’t have MagicJack either their troubleshooting steps helped.

By running powercfg /requests within an elevated command prompt, I enumerate application and driver power requests.   Power requests prevent the computer from automatically powering off the display or entering a low power sleep mode.   Help doesn’t mention how that effects the screensaver.

Closing my browser results in the Flash entry leaving.   The screensaver then kicked in at the normal 10 minute interval.   I can’t reproduce the behavior at will however.  Not every usage of Flash causes this behavior.   That makes me wonder if the author of the Flash video is setting something. 

I’m not sure what can be done.   This issue is that you can no longer rely on your enterprise computers to lock correctly under Windows 7.     Windows Media Player had a group policy setting to allow the screensaver to lock even when Media Player was running.   I don’t know of anything similar for Flash.   If you have thoughts, it the comments below.

5 Comments

  1. Interesting that you mention this. I had just noticed that my machine wasn’t looking either, but haven’t had the time to start looking into this. Running the command I have the same Adobe Flash Player. I wonder if it’s something new with IE9?

    • Eric,
      Not new to IE9. I was experiencing it before on IE8 and actually upgraded to IE9 to see if it would fix the issue.
      I found out about powercfg /requests about 3 months ago, and now when I am leaving the computer for an extended period of time, I will run it quickly before I step away. Nothing worse than coming back to your computer hours later and seeing that not only is it unlocked but that the screens have just been blasting the same pixels for hours on end.

      I too can’t reliably reproduce the issue. Some flash sites cause it to happen. Some don’t.

  2. powercfg -requestsoverride process iexplore.exe Display

    (repeat for any other processes, like wmplayer.exe, firefox.exe, winvnc4.exe that also show up in the display list)

    • that’s fine for the individual. What do you do in the enterprise? run those commands as a preventative measure?

      screensave timeouts are as as common as password policies in companies that care about security. This long after the adoption of Windows 7, I’d expect to see something a bit more solid.

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