PC Monitor Screen Savers: Tools or Toys? - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Do you need a screen saver on your monitor? There’s no reason to run a screen saver program for its originally intended purpose: to prevent the perils of phosphor burn-in.

Back in the old days, a computer was often used for a single task, especially in an office setting. Because the same image was displayed pretty much all the time on the screen, the image burned the CRT’s phosphor, making an image visible even when the monitor was turned off.

To help “save” the screen, screen saver software was born.

At first, screen savers merely blanked the display after a period of inactivity. Later screen savers added graphical images. Screen savers are now mostly toys, though they can also serve a security function by locking the computer after a period of inactivity. But phosphor burn-in is no longer considered a serious computer maintenance issue.

  • To configure a screen saver in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, right-click the desktop and choose Personalize from the pop-up menu. In the Personalization window, click the Screen Saver link to show the Screen Saver Settings dialog box.

  • To configure a screen saver in Windows XP, right-click the desktop and choose Properties from the shortcut menu. Click the Screen Saver tab in the Display Properties dialog box.

  • To have the screen saver lock the computer (for security), place a check mark in the box by On Resume, Display Logon Screen (Windows 7/Windows Vista) or On Resume, Password Protect (Windows XP). This option can be found in either the Screen Saver Settings or Display Properties dialog box.

  • Be careful when downloading screen savers from the Internet. Many so-called free screen savers can be malware programs that turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth.