Screen saver

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Example of a screensaver on a computer monitor.

A screen saver or screensaver is a program that becomes activated after the computer is inactive for a specified time. Screensavers were originally designed to help prevent images or text from being burned into older monitors.


In Windows, press the Windows key+L to lock the computer if you're stepping away from the computer. Locking the computer activates the screensaver and prevents others from accessing your computer.

Are screen savers still needed?

The monitors and flat-panel displays used today no longer suffer from burn-in issues found with older CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors. However, screen savers are still used for their aesthetic value and to password protect a computer when the user is away from the keyboard.

Do screen savers save power?

No. When a screen saver is visible, your computer and monitor are both still on, meaning the same amount of power is used.


You'll save power and extend the life of your monitor if you turn it off when you step away from your computer instead of using a screen saver. If you use a screen saver to show pictures or for other aesthetic reasons, adjust the power savings mode to turn off your monitor after being away for more than an hour. See: How to adjust power, standby, hibernate, and sleep settings.

Confusion between screen saver and wallpaper

Many new computer users confuse a screen saver with a wallpaper, which is the picture shown on your desktop. See our wallpaper page for further information and related links on this term.

What are examples of screen saver programs?

In the past, screen saver programs like After Dark would install on your computer and run by itself. Today, most screen savers and screen saver packages install into the operating system, which runs the screen saver.

The following screen savers are include with Microsoft Windows 10.

  • 3D Text - Type any text that is turned into 3D text and rotated and moved around the screen.
  • Blank - Turns screen black.
  • Bubbles - Bubbles appear over any open windows and move around the screen.
  • Mystify - Multi-color lines that move around a black screen.
  • Photo Gallery - Photo Gallery is a screen saver that shows pictures and movies as a screen saver. Screen saver came with Windows 7 and remains on any computer that's been upgraded from Windows 7.
  • Photos - Show a slide show of pictures from any directory on the computer.
  • Ribbons - Single painted lines that are randomly drawn on a black screen.

How to exit a screen saver

To exit a screen saver, move the mouse, press a mouse button, or press a key on the keyboard. For example, pressing the Esc would exit the screen saver.


If the screen saver has a password, a password prompt is shown, and the correct password must be entered before the screen saver exits.

Should I be using "screen saver" or "screensaver" in my writing?

Both "screen saver" and "screensaver" are correct and what version you use is often dependent on the style guide you use. Computer Hope follows the Microsoft style of writing screen saver as two separate words. According to Google Trends, more people have used "screensaver" than "screen saver" in their writing.

Bubble, Burn in, The Screen Savers, Video terms