What is a Screen Saver?


Updated: 08/08/2017 by Computer Hope

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

Tip: In Windows press the Windows key + L to lock the computer if you’re stepping away from the computer. Locking the computer allow the screensaver to run, but prevents someone from accessing your computer in-between the time you step away and it takes to start the screen saver.

Are screen savers still needed?

The monitors and flat panel displays used today no longer suffer from burn-in issues found with older CRT 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 it means your computer and monitor are both on and that means you’re using the same amount of power as if the computer wasn’t showing a screen saver.

Tip: 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 want a screen saver to show your pictures or for other aesthetic reasons you can also change your power savings mode to turn off your monitor after being away for an hour or more.

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.

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

Both “screen saver” and “screensaver” are correct and what version you 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.

Related pages

Burn in, The Screen Savers, Video terms

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