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Screen Saver

Marquee Screen Saver—Leave a Message   Changing Power Management   My Pictures Slideshow

screen saver tabA screen saver starts automatically when nothing seems to have been happening with the keyboard or mouse for a set amount of time—say 15 minutes.

The simplest choice is Blank—the screen just goes black. This is different from None, which means the monitor will continue to look the same until you change something—by opening a window, typing, or whatever.

The most interesting choices on the built-in list are Marquee and My Pictures Slideshow. The rest are pretty ho-hum.


Marquee Screen Saver

You can use the Marquee screen saver to leave a message or to display a joke, a slogan or your name—anything you like.

Settings for Marquee screen saver.If you choose Marquee and then click the Settings button you get this box where you type in the text that you want to appear on the screen. You can input quite a few lines or phrases. If you want to, use the spacebar to make a big gap between one phrase and the next. If you want the message to be readable, set the speed slider at Slow.

Choose the background colour in this box, but to choose a colour for the text itself click Format Text. In the box that appears, you can choose a font and size as well as text colour.

Click OK a couple of times to get back to the main screen saver tab, and if this is just a fun message, click Apply and go on to the next tab.

However, if this is a serious message and you want to be sure it's read (say if you've been called away because someone's ill), there's one more essential step. Without this step, the monitor will quit after 15 minutes. You need to change the power management.   top

Changing Power Management

In the Screen saver dialogue box, just above the Apply button, there's a button marked Power. Click the Power button and you'll get this dialogue box.Power Options dialogueChange Turn off monitor from "After 15 minutes" to "Never". (Remember to turn power management back on when the emergency is over.)

Now click OK to return from the Power dialogue and click Apply on the Screen Saver tab.

Under Normal Circumstances

You'll probably want to adjust the power management timing for ordinary use. If your work pattern means that you are using the keyboard or the mouse pretty constantly, 15 minutes may be OK. If, however, you want to run long slide shows, or if you spend a lot of time dictating text into your computer or doing something else that doesn't involve keyboard or mouse, you'll want to keep your monitor alive for a longer period. It's annoying if the screen goes black in the middle of something important.

If you know that you just never leave the computer on and unattended, you could confidently set the time to Never. If, however, you know that you're often interrupted in your work, you'll need to tell the monitor to turn itself off after maybe 30 minutes. You really need to experiment with this until you find a happy medium between too soon and never.

The other three options in this box are Never by default. I'm inclined to leave them alone. In particular, I've heard people say they've had problems when using the Hibernate option. I have no experience, so I'd rather just take their word for it than get into some sort of muddle.

Personally, I think the best practice is to turn my computer off when I've finished with it, and once Windows has finished its shut-down routine I unplug from the wall and unplug from the phone line too. This makes me feel that:
(a) I'm not uselessly consuming a trickle of electricity and
(b) If there's a thunderstorm, my equipment isn't going to be wrecked by a power surge.   top

My Pictures Slideshow

Choosing slideshow screen saverNow for the best screen saver. Show your own pictures as a slide show!

First, of course, you need some pictures. They can be photos from your digital camera, pictures you've saved from the web, things you've scanned or paintings and drawings that you or family members—even the tiny ones—have made on the computer.

I don't know yet whether all picture formats are acceptable, but I'll bet they are. XP is pretty cool! (If I find that some formats are rejected, I'll update this bit.)

OK. The pictures do not have to be in the My Pictures folder.

Slideshow settings

The button labelled "Use pictures from this folder" is a browse button. Click it and you'll be able to navigate to the folder in which the pictures you want to use are stored.

You can experiment with the other settings. I left them as they were and I'm happy with the results. I think that ticking "Stretch small pictures" would cause distortion, though.

The option to "Show file names" isn't a big success. On my computer, the name was superimposed on the top of the actual picture. This spoiled the picture, and the file name wasn't easy to read.




Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.

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