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

Most screensaver problems relate to configuration errors

Screensavers aren't required for LCD and LED screens (only CRT and plasma displays are susceptible to burn-in). However, people use screensavers to offer a bit of visual flair or to protect sensitive on-screen information when they walk away from their desks. Correcting problems with Windows 10 screensavers not working usually requires simple tweaks in the Settings app.

These instructions apply to Windows 10 only.

Screensavers once protected displays from burn-in. Now they are a power-saving tool and a way to show off images.
Joe Raedel / Getty Images

Causes of Windows 10 Screensaver Not Working

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

  • The screensaver freezes upon activation or when you stop it.
  • The screensaver doesn't start even after you've waited the right amount of time.
  • The screen doesn't resume and returns to the normal computer screen.

In almost all of these situations, the error sources to a configuration problem.

How to Fix Windows 10 Screensaver Problems

Try these steps, in order of most to least intensive, to get your screensaver working again.

  1. Check the screensaver settings. While a Windows update can resolve problems, it sometimes changes customized settings. If your screensaver isn't working as it should be, make sure it is enabled. Find the screensaver settings under Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > Screen saver settings. If you don't currently have a screensaver selected, choose the one you like and set the amount of time before it activates.

  2. Check the power settings. In a way, a screensaver is a power management tool. Changes to the power saving options can affect the operation of the screensaver. If nothing else worked, reset these power savings to default. Access Settings > Power & sleep > Additional power settings. Choose either Balanced or High performance. Click Change plan settings to commit the changes. On the next screen, select Change advanced power setting. At the bottom of the pop-up window, select Restore plan defaults.

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

  4. Apply pending Windows updates. Microsoft releases regular updates that correct minor glitches and errors in the operating system. If you encounter a problem with the regular operation of your computer, make sure Windows 10 is up to date. You can find that information in the Windows Update service on the computer. Change the  Windows update setting so that Windows updates automatically.

  5. Clean the mouse or touchpad. In much the same way that auxiliary devices send false inputs that keep the screen active, a dirty mouse or touchpad can also send false inputs. Small drops of water are particularly to blame. Use a soft cloth to clean the sensor on the bottom of the mouse or the touchpad where your hand rests. Disconnect the mouse or turn off the computer before cleaning so that you don't click something by mistake.

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

  6. Disconnect peripheral devices. Many people use extra accessories with their computers, such as an Xbox controller. These peripheral devices sometimes send signals that make the machine think it is in use, even if the screensaver should be active. Unplug unnecessary devices from the PC. Remove each device one at a time until you find the potential cause.