Help! My Windows 7 screen saver options are grayed out.

Today my Windows7 notebook drove me nuts.

If you work with sensitive data, it is necessary that your devices are protected against unauthorized usage. A good and easy way to do this is to ‘password protect’ the screen saver. A bad and unproductive way is to set the screen saver activation time to 5 minutes. Especially if you work on more than one computer the same time. You spend 5 minutes every hour in typing your password to the other computer. To fix this issue I thought that there must be a switch somewhere under screen saver settings in Windows 7. I found it where I expected it. But it was ‘grayed’ out.

It took me awhile to find the answer on how to enable these switches in Windows7, because 99% of the ‘I-know-the-answer-experts’ in Google didn’t read or understand the question properly. So to change the behaviour of these switches, open regedit and edit the following keys under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop:

ScreenServerIsSecure can be 1 (options are grayed out) or 0 (options are enabled)

ScreenSaveTimeOut set the waiting time in seconds.

As you can see, I changed the ScreenSaveTimeOut to 900 seconds(15 minutes)

Job done …

P.S. You can also set this behaviour by adding the keys to the registry. Both keys have REG_SZ values. Changes in the registry can make a system unusable, please keep that in mind.


About Juergen Caris

I am 54yo, MSc(Dist) and BSc in Computer Science, German and working as a Senior Server Engineer for the NHS Lothian. I am responsible for the patient management system, called TrakCare. I am a UNIX/Linux guy, working in this sector for more than 20 years now. I am also interested in robotics, microprocessors, system monitoring, Home automation and programming.
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