Windows 11 Screensaver Window

Screen savers are technically obsolete in Windows 11 these days, but you still need them to lock your PC automatically after a certain length of time. They’re also a fun way to personalize your PC, but Windows 11 hides them away by default. Here’s how to set one up.

First, click the Start button in your taskbar and type “screensaver.” In the “Best Match” results below, click “Change Screen Saver.”

(You can also find a link to the Screen Saver Settings window in the Settings app under Personalization > Lock Screen > Screen Saver.)

A “Screen Saver Settings” window will open. In the drop-down menu below “Screen Saver,” select a screensaver from the list. The default choices in Windows 11 go all the way back to Windows Vista, so they haven’t been updated significantly in a while. Here’s what each one does:

  • 3D Text: Text of your choice is rendered in 3D and moved around the screen.
  • Blank: A blank, black screen.
  • Bubbles: Colored bubbles bounce off the borders of the screen.
  • Mystify: Angular and curved colored lines bounce around your screen.
  • Photos: Show a picture slideshow on your screen.
  • Ribbons: Multicolored ribbons swirl around your screen.

Select a screensaver in the drop-down menu.

Once you’ve made your selection, you can change the screensaver’s settings by clicking the “Settings” button. You can also preview what it will look like when activated my clicking “Preview.”

Next, use the box beside “Wait” to set the screensaver delay in minutes. If your PC stays idle for this length of time, your screensaver will activate automatically. And if you’d like for your PC to lock (and display the sign-in screen) when the screensaver exits, check the box beside “On resume, display logon screen.”

Choose a time in the "Wait" window.

After that, click “OK,” then close the Screen Saver Settings window. Your screen saver will activate after the time you specified as long as the PC has received no keyboard or mouse input during that time. If you change your mind, you can revisit the “Screen Saver Settings” window by searching for “screensaver” in Start, the Settings app, or in Control Panel. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Lock Your Windows 11 PC

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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