Should You Turn Your Screensaver Off? History & Modern Use of a Bug Fix

Joe Keeley 21-04-2015

Screensavers have long been a part of Windows, but they don’t play such a big role nowadays. Once an important feature to help prevent screen burn AMOLED Burn-In Can Be Avoided! And It's Easy! AMOLED burn-in can be reduced with the right tricks. This article lists the apps and options for saving AMOLED screens. Read More on CRT monitors, screensavers are mostly used now to look pretty.


Let’s take a look at how screensavers came to be, remember some famous examples, and discuss whether it’s still worth using one in this day and age, considering the power usage implications.

Don’t forget to head into the comments section afterwards to let us know your screensaver memories and whether you still use one.

Screensaver History

Screensavers originally came into existence to solve the problem of screen burn Screen Burn-In Fixes and Why LCD Can Be Fixed LCD, plasma, OLED displays, even old CRT televisions can be damaged by screen burn-in. Here's how can you fix screen burn-in. Read More that affected CRT monitors 3 Things You Can Do With Old Computer Monitors Unused electronics are the bane of the modern life. Perfectly functional gadgets sit quietly in a corner of the store room, doing nothing. Old LCD monitors are a perfect example of that. Read More . Screen burn is what occurred if the screen displayed the same image for a long period of time. Simply put, the phosphors that light the screen would begin to lose their power, making their output uneven and causing parts of the screen to appear darker. This unbalanced light output could then cause a previous display to appear faded on the screen.

In some severe causes the screen burn would even appear when the monitor was turned off. It commonly happened from static or consistent screen elements, like the Windows taskbar 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Let's have a closer look. Read More on a computer monitor or a news ticker on a TV.

crt monitor


The screensaver was invented to do just as the name suggests: save the screen from burn. After a certain period of computer inactivity, a screensaver would kick in and display something else, often animated, in order to ensure that no single element was stuck in the same position on the screen for a long period of time.

Screen burn can still happen in modern LCD displays, albeit not technically in the same way, but it’s rare and not nearly as common as it was on CRTs.

Famous Screensavers

The Internet’s take-off made the number of screensavers available to everyone sky-rocket, but there are some screensavers that have stood the test of time and are still memorable to this day.

Flying Toasters

It’s pretty easy to figure out what the Flying Toasters screensaver was – toasters with wings flying through the air alongside slices of toast. This was one of the many screensavers that came included in a screensaver software package called After Dark. It had multiple versions, expanding to include things like music and bagels, and even had merchandise.


flying toasters

Check out this Flying Toasters recreation website if you want to experience the wonders of this screensaver in the modern day!

Johnny Castaway

Johnny Castaway was a pretty unique screensaver because it didn’t just show you the same thing every time it appeared. Developed by Sierra, it showed a man stranded on an island and all the antics that he got up to. Making a sand castle, mingling with mermaids, building a raft and more. The screensaver would even react to special holidays, like showing a Christmas tree on the island.

The screensaver told a story, but events would show in a random order, with some moments rarely being seen. In fact, it led to people online discussing what they’d seen Johnny do and slowly piecing together the story. However, times have changed and some entrepreneurial person has compiled the screensaver into one video. Check it out above!


Using Screensavers Today

Although screensavers may not still serve their initial purpose, they are still a feature of Windows. The average consumer wasn’t aware of screen burn, so the entertainment value of screensavers is still something that stands up for some people today.

If you want to use one, do a system search for change screen saver and select the relevant result. In Screen Saver Settings, pick a screensaver from the dropdown menu, and set how much time should pass before it kicks in.

screensaver settings

Some modern day screensavers have use beyond what would have been possible in their inception. For example, the World Community Grid has software that will use idle computer processing power to help towards scientific research, with an accompanying screensaver to give an overview of what is being analysed. Other uses include displaying news feeds, system information Did You Get The PC You Ordered? Find Out With These System Information Tools [Windows] Have you recently purchased a PC? If yes, was it customized? By customized, I mean assembled by a local computer shop, or even just by someone you know who builds and sells computers. If you... Read More , and management announcements in business.


You can use your screensaver The 10 Creative Ways to Use a Screensaver Read More  in many more entertaining and creative ways, for example to enjoy your photographs, view your RSS feed, or run videos as screensavers How To Make Video Screensavers & Wallpapers Everyone knows how to set a picture as wallpaper. Everyone knows how to use pictures, even slideshows, as screensavers. But what if you want more than that? Read More .

Should You Use a Screensaver?

There’s no definitive answer as to whether or not you should use a screensaver. If you find them fun or informative, by all means do. However, there’s a consideration you need to make about their power consumption 5 Ways To Reduce The Power Consumption Of Your Computer Read More .

Keeping the screen active will use more energy than having the screen blank or turned off Screen Off: 5 Ways to Toggle Your Monitor & Save Energy If you're leaving your display active while your computer is idle, you're wasting energy. Here are some tools and tips to ensure that you have full control of your screen. Read More . This may not be much of a concern if you’re on a desktop, but laptop users should strongly consider not using a screensaver as it’ll drain the battery.


Do a system search for change power-saving settings Windows 7 Power Options and Sleep Modes Explained When Windows 7 launched, one of Microsoft's selling points was that it was designed to help your battery last longer. One of the main features users will actually notice is that the screen dims before... Read More and select the relevant result. This will open a window that will allow you to determine, amongst other settings, when to turn off the display. If you’re looking to save energy or battery power Get More Runtime From A Single Laptop Battery Charge Does your laptop battery charge not last long? This guide will offer tips on how to get more runtime from a single charge, using simple Windows settings. Read More (or both) then consider just having the display turn itself off rather than display a screensaver.

Do You Screensave?

Screensavers may not be as popular as they once were, but there’s definitely still a place for them on computers – even if it’s just to show slideshow pictures on an idle screen!

A word of warning, however. If you’re out looking for new screensavers, be careful where you download them from as it isn’t uncommon for malware and other threats Viruses, Spyware, Malware, etc. Explained: Understanding Online Threats When you start to think about all the things that could go wrong when browsing the Internet, the web starts to look like a pretty scary place. Read More to be bundled in with them.

Do you have any screensaver memories to share? Do you still use a screensaver?

Image Credits: Running CHKDSK on a 9 year old PC by Daniel Oines [Broken Link Removed], licensed under CC BY 2.0

Related topics: Battery Life, Computer Monitor, Screensaver.

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  1. Mary Brady
    April 23, 2015 at 5:10 am

    I love screensavers. Years ago, when I had Windows '98, I had purchased a commercial screensaver. I recall it featured several options, which were entitled Sun, Moon or Stars. If anyone reading this post recalls the title and/or manufacturer of the screensaver, please add a comment. Thanks.
    I still use screensavers including Analogy (which resembles an atomic clock), Yo Window, DreamAquarium, Mechanical 3D Clock and 2 extra versions of Mystify.

  2. Leah
    April 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I wasn't so sure screen burn was as bad as they say it is, but this place I used to work at had a computer monitor with screen burn. It was the log-in screen for the company. The monitor was put in the back so it only got used when absolutely necessary. I'm not sure why they just didn't dump it since it was't really needed. They probably did now since it's been 10 years since I worked there.

    I still use a screensaver. It's a clock. I could just let my computer go to a black screen, but I like seeing the clock move around my screen when I'm not on the computer.

    • Eric
      December 20, 2019 at 4:25 am

      Hah... I used to freak people out using the clock. Used a special font called Fences. Some people thought the computers had a virus... /lmfao

  3. Gavin
    April 22, 2015 at 10:23 am

    The worst case of screen burn I've seen was in my college days a few years ago. The log-in screen for Windows 2000 was literally burnt into the CRT monitor.

  4. ReadandShare
    April 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

    With options to blank screen, sleep, etc. that allow our computers to 'wake up' very quickly - I agree with Dragonmouth that running screensavers during idle time is a needless waste of energy resources.

  5. Scutterman
    April 22, 2015 at 12:58 am

    I don't use a screensaver any more, I just manually switch off my screens when I walk away from the computer. There used to be an easter-egg in Windows XP (it may have survived through to 7 and 8, I'm not sure). If you set your screensaver to a marque with the text “Who Cares?” then it would change itself to “I do” after about a month.

  6. dragonmouth
    April 21, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    I blank my screen after 5 minutes. Having a screensaver display random information is pointless IMO. If the majority of users used a blank screen instead of a screensaver think how much energy could be saved world-wide.

  7. Hildy J
    April 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I used screensavers in the CRT days and I rarely looked at what they displayed because they were designed to put varying images on the screen when I was away from my desk and too lazy to turn the monitor off. Now I just let the computer switch the screen to black.

    If you're using your screen saver for fun or information, you must be looking at the screen and you'd do better with a fun or informative application, widget, live tile, or whatever.

  8. SpamJam
    April 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    wow - I can't believe it's been 8 years but... I found this thing ( )

    I downloaded it back when the article came out - it's easy enough to customize - I use it to this day.