How to Fix It When the Windows 10 Screensaver Is Not Working

There are a few issues that can crop up with the Windows screensaver

Windows 10 offers an incredible level of control and customization over your machine, but this same personalization can lead to errors. Your Windows 10 screensaver is necessary for protecting the screen and reducing the amount of load on various internal components, so when it stops working, your entire PC might be at risk. If your screensaver stops working, this article will walk you through the various causes and their solutions.

Potential Windows 10 Screensaver Problems

There are different problems you might encounter with the Windows 10 screensaver, but these are the most common:

  • The screensaver freezes: this happens when the screensaver freezes upon activation or when you try to stop it.
  • The screensaver won't start: this happens when the screensaver won't start even after you've waited the preset amount of time.
  • The screen won't resume: this happens when you cannot exit the screensaver and return to your normal computer screen.

How to Fix Windows 10 Screensaver Problems

A computer monitor displaying a screensaver.
Claylib / Getty Images 

There are many reasons why a screensaver might malfunction and nearly as many different ways to fix it. Try the steps below; if one doesn't work, another might. 

  1. Make sure Windows is up to date. Windows releases regular (sometimes notorious) updates that correct minor glitches and errors in the operating system. If you encounter a problem with the regular operation of your computer, the first step should be to make sure Windows 10 is up to date. You can find that information in the Windows Update service on your computer. You may also want to consider changing your Windows update setting so that Windows will update automatically to prevent these issues in the future.

  2. Check screensaver settings. While Windows updates can resolve problems, they sometimes change settings. If your screensaver isn't working as it should be, make sure it is enabled. You can find your screensaver settings under Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > Screen saver settings. If you do not currently have a screensaver selected, choose the one you like and choose the amount of time before it activates.

  3. Check your power settings. In a way, your screensaver is a power management tool. Changes to your power savings options can affect the operation of the screensaver. If nothing else has worked, reset these power savings to default. You can find this under Settings > Power & sleep > Additional power settings. You will need to choose either Balanced or High performance. Once you've done this, click Change plan settings.

    On the next screen, you will see an option to Change advanced power setting. A new window will appear. At the bottom of this window is a button to Restore plan defaults. Click this to swap back to your default power settings.

  4. Check your sleep settings. Specifically, the Turn off the display time. If your settings tell the display to shut off faster than your screensaver is set to activate, then you'll never see it. Adjust the sleep settings on your computer so your screensaver comes on after five minutes of inactivity and the display turns off entirely after ten minutes.

  5. Disconnect peripheral devices. Many people use extra accessories with their computers, such as an Xbox controller. These devices sometimes send signals that make the machine think it is in use, even if the screensaver should be active. If you've made sure your screensaver is turned on and it hasn't helped. Unplug any unnecessary devices from your PC. Remove each device one at a time until you find the potential cause.

  6. Clean your mouse or touchpad. In much the same way that auxiliary devices can cause false inputs that keep your screen active and prevent the screensaver from activating, a dirty mouse or touchpad can also send false inputs. Small drops of water are particularly to blame for issues like this. Use a soft cloth to clean the sensor on the bottom of your mouse or the touchpad where your hand rests. Make sure to disconnect your mouse or turn off your machine before cleaning so that you don't click something by mistake.

Cleaning a wired mouse is a little different than cleaning a wireless mouse. The most important thing to remember is to disconnect the mouse from the computer before you start taking the mouse apart.

Screensavers are Entertaining, Not Necessary

One thing to keep in mind is that screensavers as a concept are out-dated. Screensavers were necessary in the days of CRT and plasma monitors when a steady image for an extended period of time could result in a permanent burn-in on the display. In the modern era of LED and LCD screens, a screensaver is an entertaining display, but not necessary.

If you've tried everything you can think of and nothing resolves your screensaver issues, ask yourself whether you truly need one. If you feel nostalgic for the days of the endless-space screensaver, by all means, use it—but know that you no longer have to use one to protect your display.