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Why is My Screensaver Asking for a Password, and How Do I Fix That?

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I’ve been using a screen saver for years. I used to be able to just move my mouse and get back to my desktop. However, now when I move my mouse, it takes me back to the ‘Welcome Screen’ and I have to enter my password again. How do I undo that?

It’s easy to fix, but it’s also an important aspect of security.

First I’ll make an argument for not changing it.

Then I’ll show you how.

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Locked for your protection

If you’re in any kind of a situation where others can easily access your machine, a password-protected screen saver is a security feature I believe you really want to use.

Many years ago, my manager at the time was working on our performance evaluations, including salaries and raises. At one point he was called away from his office while working on the evaluation spreadsheet. Not only did he leave the information on his screen – a bad move by itself – but even after the screensaver kicked in, anyone walking past his desk and (even accidentally) moving the mouse just a little would restore access to that screen of sensitive information.

The solution, of course, was to enable password protection on his screensaver. That way, once it kicked in after a very short period of inactivity, the screen would not be displayed again until he came back and entered his password.

It’s about much more than accidental access, however. Remember, while you’re logged in, anyone can walk up to your machine and do anything as if they were you. They can copy data, delete things, make posts on your behalf, or change passwords. Unfettered access to your computer means there’s really no limit to the havoc someone with malicious intent could cause.

So, before you do what I’m about to tell you to do, consider whether or not you really want to do it.

Do you really want your computer to be open and accessible to anyone walking by if you step away?

Unlocked for your convenience

Often times the answer really is yes, like it is for me here at home. As long as you’ve considered the risks, it’s an easy setting to change.

In Windows 10, click the Start button and type “screen saver” to search for the setting.

Screen Saver on Start Menu Search

(In previous Windows versions, you’ll find the screen saver setting in Control Panel.)

Click on Change screen saver (not shown here). Make sure that “On resume, display logon screen” is unchecked.

Screen Saver Settings

Click OK, and you’re done.

Each week I publish several articles like this covering a variety of tech topics and solutions. Subscribe to Confident Computing -- more articles that help you solve problems, stay safe, and increase your confidence with technology, delivered to your inbox once a week.

Hope to see you there soon,

Leo

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Posted: March 15, 2017 in: Windows User Interface
Shortlink: https://askleo.com/26821
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.

1 thought on “Why is My Screensaver Asking for a Password, and How Do I Fix That?”

  1. You convinced me, I just followed the opposite of your instructions and enabled the screen saver password. Since I log in with a PIN, it takes about a second or two to type it in.

    Reply

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