Screen Saver Taking Longer to Start ? In Windows 7 and Vista

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Not sure if you’ve ever experienced your screensaver timeout will taking longer to start in Windows 7 and vista. But this is not a bug or anything wrong with your computer. Saw this interesting post on The Old New thing and would like to share with you. As probably you know some program will be programmed on purpose to not activate your screen saver. For example, programs do media playback, will most likely to call SetThreadExecutionState(ES_DISPLAY_REQUIRED) so that you won’t get disrupted when you watch a movie and all the student it blank the screen. This way they make sure you won’t miss anything, and keep the monitor on while you are watching. Well, sometimes if you repeatedly cancel the screen saver in less than a minute, Windows is smart enough to learn that oh probably you don’t want to start it that early “my bad, I will remember next time not to start it that early”. This feature is called Adaptive Display Timeout. It begins when Vista is introduced, same for Windows 7. As you can see from the description of the setting blow the use of Adaptive Display Timeout is:

Manages how Windows controls the setting that specifies how long a computer must be inactive before Windows turns off the computer’s display. When this policy is enabled, Windows automatically adjusts the setting based on what users do with their keyboard or mouse to keep the display on. When this policy is disabled, Windows uses the same setting regardless of users’ keyboard or mouse behavior. If you don’t configure this setting, users can see and change this setting.

After the second time you canceled the screen saver, the screen saver idle time is temporarily incremented by its nominal value.

For example, if you set your screen saver timeout to two minutes, then starting with the second fast dismiss, Windows will wait an additional two minutes before trying the screen saver again.

Here is a timeline:

  • At T = 0, you stop generating input.
  • At T = 2m, the screen saver starts. You dismiss it immediately.
  • At T = 4m, the screen saver starts. You dismiss it immediately. This is your second consecutive fast dismiss, so the screen saver timeout is temporarily increased to 4 minutes.
  • At T = 8m, the screen saver starts. You dismiss it immediately. This is your third consecutive fast dismiss, so the screen saver timeout is temporarily increased to 6 minutes.
  • At T = 14m, the screen saver starts. You dismiss it immediately. This is your fourth consecutive fast dismiss, so the screen saver timeout is temporarily increased to 8 minutes.

However, this won’t go infinite, because you will eventually turn off your computer or put it into sleep mode. So here is the way to disable this automatic feature if you don’t like Windows delay the screen saver time out. In Windows 7

Table of Contents

Step 1

group_policy

Type “group policy” in the start menu, and choose “Edit group policy

Step 2

group_policy_editor_settings

Go to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Administrative Templates > System > Power Management > Video and Display Settings Right Click > edit and choose disable. You’re done! Note: There is little difference between Vista and Windows 7 as one of the commenter point out from the original post. You can disable this feature in Windows Vista by simply navigate to the advanced setting of power management. But you won’t find it in Windows 7. And by it is confirmed that I did an experiment disable this feature in Group Policy you and achieve the same in Vista.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I realize I’m late to this post, but the terminology here is confusing as, well, something not clear 🙂

    “Turn Off Adaptive Display Timeout” From that name it would seem like “Enable” would disable ADT (enable turning it off). Is the policy really just “Adaptive Display Timeout” – enable would enable ADT, or is it the opposite?

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