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The lock screen password (previously screen saver password) protects your Windows computer from unauthorized access when you leave your work space for some time. It is therefore a good feature. However, in some situations, it can really get on your nerves.
The Windows 10 lock screen
For instance, if you are reading long text, watching a monitoring program, or just talking on the phone, you don’t want to re-enter your password every few minutes. In those cases, you can just increase the timeout until the lock screen appears (see below).
However, some users hate the lock screen because it always appears exactly at the moment when they turn back to the computer. Locking the screen manually (WIN + L) is then the better option. In some usage scenarios, such as a virtual test environment, a lock screen password is totally superfluous.
To disable the lock screen password, you have two options: You can change the screen saver or the power management settings. However, Windows behaves differently depending on which way you go.
Via screen saver ^
In older Windows versions, you could set a screen saver password. By default, the screen saver feature is now disabled and it appears you can no longer use this setting to disable the lock screen. However, you simply have to set a screen saver (for instance, “Blank”) and then leave the check box On resume, display logon screen unselected.
To access the Screen Saver Settings dialog, you can type screen saver in the Control Panel search field.
Disable lock screen in screen saver settings
To prevent the screen saver from kicking in while you are watching something on your display, you can set a high number for the delay.
I tested this with Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. I guess it also works with old Windows versions such as Windows 7.
There is a little hiccup, though. You might experience a short delay when you press a key to make the screen saver disappear. In my test environment with VMware Fusion, I sometimes had to wait two seconds until the desktop appeared. You should not have this problem on a physical machine. At least you no longer have to enter your password to access your Windows machine.
If you want to change this setting for multiple machines, use Group Policy: User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization. The policies you need are Enable Screen Saver, Force Specific Screen Saver, Password Protect Screen Saver, and Screen Saver timeout. The Password Protect Screen Saver policy should be disabled.
Disabling password protection for the screen saver
For more information, please read Kyle’s article Set the default forced screen saver in Group Policy. This should work for all Windows versions (except the Home editions, of course).
By the way, at first sight, the policy Do not display the lock screen in Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Personalization appears to be what we need.
However, if you enable this policy, you only prevent the lock screen and not the “lock.” If a Windows client (Windows 8.1, Windows 10) boots up, you will immediately see the logon screen and not the lock screen. And if you don’t use the computer for some time, the logon screen will appear instead of the lock screen. This saves you one key stroke. On machines such as Windows Server 2012 R2, this policy has no effect for users that have to press CTRL+ALT+DEL before they can log on.
The Windows 10 logon screen
Via power management ^
We can also leverage power management to get rid of the lock and logon screens entirely. In Control Panel, type Power and then click Change power-saving settings. Next, click Change plan settings (for your preferred plan) and then set Turn off the display to Never.
Disable lock screen in power-saving settings
If you set Turn Off the Display (seconds) to 0 in the Turn off the display (plugged in) policy that you can find at Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Power Management > Video and Display Settings, you will get the same result.
Setting the Turn Off the Display policy to 0 to prevent the lock screen
This will prevent the lock screen from appearing on all Windows versions, including Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
Which option is for you? If you want to avoid the lock screen on multiple machines with the help of Group Policy, you first have to decide if you want to do this with a user-based or computer-based method. The screen saver solution is user-based, whereas power management is computer-based.
In a virtual lab environment, I would go for the power management option because you can switch to a VM without any delay. On a single physical machine, the screen saver option is better if you don’t want to waste energy.