Set the default forced screen saver in Group Policy – Logon.scr in Windows 7

This article explains how to set a default screen saver with settings that will be compatible with changes in Windows 7 and with your existing Windows XP and Vista clients.

Kyle Beckman By Kyle Beckman - Mon, October 18, 2010 - 3 comments

Kyle Beckman works as a systems administrator in Higher Education in the Southeast United States. He is an MCSE and specializes in Group Policy, Windows Server, and client support.

In my initial testing of Windows 7, I was a little disturbed to find that a default install of Windows 7 Enterprise did not include a default screen saver when a user would log in. I was also a little miffed that logon.scr (known as the “Windows XP” screen saver in Windows XP and “Windows Logo” screen saver in Windows Vista) was also nowhere to be found when I searched the file system.

Windows 7 User Screensaver Configuration 1

If a user logs into Windows 7 and has logon.scr set as a forced screen saver in Group Policy, his default screen saver will be set to (None) and, because it is a Group Policy, the user will be unable to change this setting.

Windows 7 User Screensaver Configuration 2

In many environments, securing logon sessions is very important… especially if you have to deal with HIPAA, FERPA, or any of the other myriad of government regulations (or jumpy Information Security departments) that are out there. If a user were to leave his office with his workstation unlocked and the door wide open, a malicious person would have access to everything that the unwitting user left open: files, applications, e-mail, etc. If you’re still using logon.scr as your default forced screen saver and you’ve started deploying Windows 7, you have users out there without a default screen saver.

So, back to basics: setting a default screen saver with settings that will be compatible with changes in Windows 7 and with your existing Windows XP and Vista clients. First off, start with a Group Policy Object (GPO) that is linked to the OU where your user accounts are located in Active Directory. This can be either a new GPO or an existing GPO that may already have other settings you want applied to all of your users. Next, go to Policy > User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization. Here are the policies you’re looking for:

Policy Setting Option
Enable Screen Saver Enabled
Force Specific Screen Saver Enabled scrnsave.scr
Password Protect Screen Saver Enabled
Screen Saver timeout Enabled Time set in seconds (900 in the example)

Windows 7 UserScreensaver Group Policy 1 Windows 7 User Screensaver Group Policy 2

From the user’s perspective, the options for setting the screen saver, the wait time, and whether to display the logon screen will be set and grayed out. This policy change will update during a regular Group Policy refresh cycle.

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3 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. breiti says:

    this works for me perfectly. thank you.

  2. deathtap says:

    Easy instructions, very well written.

    Thanks for this. Now I can make sure that all my co-workers are forced to use the default screensaver…

    Or one that I want them to see (insert evil laughter here).

  3. abland says:

    Thanks for the tip…… It works and hopefully they don’t change things for Windows 8.

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