Changing the Windows XP Screen Saver Grace Period

If you’ve enabled a screen saver on your Windows XP system and set it to prompt for a password (or display the Welcome screen on Windows XP Home edition) to re-enter your user session, then you may be aware that you have a “grace” period between when the screen saver first appears and when a password is required to dismiss it. This grace period is provided to give you a quick opportunity to dismiss the screen in cases where your PC has been idle for the wait period, but you’re not quite ready to have Windows XP be safely locked up just yet.  By default, the grace period for a screensaver is 5 seconds. In other words, if you move your mouse or tap a key before the grace period expires, your password will not be required to exit the screensaver.

Want a little more time before the locking mechanism of your screensaver kicks in? All you need to do is adjust it’s grace period, a task easily accomplished with Microsoft’s free Tweak UI PowerToy. Open the program, browse to Logon > Screen Saver, and then adjust the Grace Period (seconds) setting to a number that better meets your needs. A little more time (say 30-60 seconds) may be the differences between having to unlock your system multiple times per day rather than just a couple.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.