Enable Screen Saver on Windows using Intune

A Screen saver on a Windows device is a graphical display that activates when the computer is inactive for a set period, originally designed to prevent burn-in on older monitors. While less relevant with modern screens, it now serves as a visual display for entertainment and energy conservation.

Recently, I discussed how to disable taskbar settings on Windows 10 devices using Intune which is helpful for organizations who do not want their employees to make changes to the taskbar settings.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll delve into the steps of Enabling the screen saver, Configuring the idle timeout settings for screen saver activation, and Specifying a Screen Saver executable to run when the idle timeout is reached.

STEP 1 – Create a Device Configuration Profile

To create a device configuration profile, follow the below steps:

  • Login on Microsoft Intune admin center
  • Click on Devices Configuration profiles
  • Click on + Create profile
  • Platform: Windows 10 and later
  • Profile type: Settings Catalog

Basics

Provide a Name and Description of the Profile. For Example:

  • Name: Enable Screen Saver on Windows devices
  • Description: This device configuration profile will enable screen saver on Windows devices

Configuration settings

Click on the “+ Add settings” button and search for “screen saver” in the settings picker. You need to select the following three settings:

  • Enable Screen saver (user) – Enabling this option will activate the desktop screen saver on target devices. However, it’s important to note that this setting relies on the configuration of the two settings mentioned below. If they are not configured, the screen saver will not be enabled.
  • Force specific screen saver (User) – With this setting, you can specify the path to the screen saver file stored on the device. The screen saver file typically has a file extension of .scr.
  • Screen saver timeout (User) – You can define the duration of idle time that must elapse before initiating the screen saver on the device. The minimum time you can set for this parameter is 1 second, and the maximum is 24 hours (86,400 seconds). If you set it to 0, the screen saver will not be activated.

If you only enable “Enable Screen saver (user)” setting, screen saver on targeted windows devices will not be activated. This setting is dependent on Force specific screen saver (User) and Screen saver timeout (User) settings. So please make sure to configure all three settings.

Screen saver settings in Settings Catalog on Intune admin center
Screen saver settings in Settings Catalog on Intune admin center

As you can see from the below screenshot, I have Enabled these settings and provided below values:

  • Screen saver timeout (User) Enable this setting and Provide the Idle timeout value. I have specified 5 seconds as I am testing this policy. For production devices, you can specify as per requirement. The default value is 15 minutes (900 seconds).
  • Force specific screen saver (User): Enable this setting and provide the path of the Screen saver executable name (User). This needs to be pointed to the screensaver file (.scr file). I have provided the %Systemroot%\System32\ssText3d.scr path which is an In-built Windows screen saver file. If you have any custom screen saver files, you can provide the path here.
  • Enable screen saver (User) – Toggle the switch to Enabled state to Enable screen saver on Windows devices.
Configure Screen saver settings on Intune
Configure Screen saver settings on Intune

Assignments

Click on Add group to add an Entra ID group containing users or devices. You can also click on Add all users or Add all devices.

Assign Screen saver policy to Windows devices on Intune
Assign Screen saver policy to Windows devices on Intune

Review + Create

Review the deployment and click on Create to start the deployment process.

Sync Intune Policies

The device check-in process might not begin immediately. If you’re testing this policy on a test device, you can manually kickstart Intune sync either from the device itself or remotely through the Intune admin center.

Alternatively, you can use PowerShell to force the Intune sync on Windows devices. Another way to trigger the Intune device check-in process is by restarting the device.

STEP 2 – Monitoring Deployment Progress

To monitor the deployment progress of a Device configuration profile, follow the below steps:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Intune admin center.
  • Click on “Devices” and then select “Configuration profiles
  • Choose the Device Configuration profile you want to work with, and at the top of the page, you’ll see a quick view of the Success, Failure, Conflict, Not Applicable, and In Progress status.
  • Click on “View report” to access more detailed information.
Monitor Screen saver policy on Intune admin center
Monitor Screen saver policy on Intune admin center

End-user Experience

Now, let’s examine the user experience on an end user’s device after this policy has been implemented. I’ve set the screen saver timeout value quite low, at just 5 seconds. Consequently, the screen saver was triggered on my device after 5 seconds of idle time.

Screen saver applied successfully on Windows device
Screen saver applied successfully on Windows device

You can also access the screen saver settings window by navigating to Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > Screen saver. In this window, you’ll notice that the settings are grayed out and cannot be modified because they are managed by Intune.

Screen saver settings are greyed out
Screen saver settings are greyed out

FAQs

1. How can I find the Screen saver registry entries created by Intune?

Since this policy is user-based, the Screen saver registry entry will be located under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER node. After applying the Screen saver policy through Intune, you’ll find registry entries under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Control Panel\Desktop, which will include the following values:

  • ScreenSaveActive – 1 (value of 1 means Screen saver policy is active and enabled)
  • ScreenSaveTimeOut – 5 (It’s set to Idle timeout of 5 seconds)
  • SCRNSAVE.EXE – %Systemroot%\System32\ssText3d.scr
Screen saver registry entries after deployment of Screen saver policy via Intune admin center
Screen saver registry entries after deployment of Screen saver policy via Intune admin center

2. How to find Intune logs for our deployed Screen saver policy?

We’ve successfully deployed a Screen Saver device configuration profile to target devices. However, if you encounter any issues and need to troubleshoot why the policy isn’t being applied, you can refer to the Event Viewer and follow these steps:

  • Press Win key + R keys to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type eventvwr and press enter to open Event Viewer.
  • Expand Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows
  • Find DeviceManagement -Enterprise-Diagnostics-Provider > Admin
  • Right-click on Admin logs and select Filter Current log (as shown in the below screenshot)
Filter Intune logs in Event viewer
Filter Intune logs in Event viewer
  • Filter the Event ID log for Event ID: 814. Press the OK button to proceed.
Filter Device Management Admin logs for Event ID 814
Filter Device Management Admin logs for Event ID 814
  • In the screenshot below, you can observe that the logs display information regarding the Screen Saver policy we’ve applied to Windows devices. Upon reviewing the details, it indicates that the Screen saver state is enabled, and the screen saver timeout frequency is set to 5 seconds.

MDM PolicyManager: Set policy string, Policy: (CPL_Personalization_ScreenSaverTimeOut), Area: (ADMX_ControlPanelDisplay), EnrollmentID requesting merge: (F62221AB-A02E-48E3-A4F0-71D93A1C547F), Current User: (S-1-12-1-2408410540-1219985927-1228550830-209493422), String: (), Enrollment Type: (0x6), Scope: (0x1).

Event ID 814 shows Screen saver policy has been applied as per the configuration from Intune admin center
Event ID 814 shows Screen saver policy has been applied as per the configuration from the Intune admin center

3. What’s the location of Screensaver files in Windows 10/11?

If you want to activate a screensaver on Windows devices using the built-in screensaver files, you have a variety of screensaver options to choose from. To find these screensaver files on Windows, please follow these steps:

  • Press Win + R keys to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type %systemroot%/system32 and press Enter.
  • Search for *.scr files in this folder using the search box. This will result in a listing of all files with extensions .scr. These are Screen saver executables, you can use any of the files to apply a Screen saver on Windows devices.
  • You can double-click on each file to test the Screen saver, If you like it you can configure it using Intune using the steps given in this blog post.
Location of Screensaver files in Windows 10/11
Location of Screensaver files in Windows 10/11

Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve covered the process of enabling a screen-saver policy on Windows devices through the Intune admin center. Make sure to follow all the settings as demonstrated in the blog post to enable the screen saver. If you desire a custom screen saver, you’ll need to first copy the screen saver file (.scr) to the device and then specify the path in the “Force specific screen saver (User)” setting.

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