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Screen savers are typically benign, but if you want to delete screen savers from your PC, there are a couple of places to look.

How do I delete screensavers from my PC that I'm not interested in?

Depending on the screen saver and where it came from, it's likely to be in one of two places. Regardless of which, screen savers are pretty easy to remove.

I'll show you both places.

System Screen Savers in Windows XP

In Windows XP, the first place to start is the Control Panel, but not where you select your screen saver.

In Control Panel, select Add or Remove Programs, then Add/Remove Windows Components, then click Windows Digital Media Enhancements in the list and click Details below that. Then, click Screen Savers in the list and then Details below that.

Screen Savers listed in Windows XP Control Panel

Uncheck any that you no longer wish to use on your computer and click OK to remove them.

Control Panel Add or Remove Programs

Another place to look for screen savers is in the list of installed programs. In particular, many third-party screen savers often come with setup programs that install not only the screen saver itself into the appropriate locations, but also add an uninstall feature as well.

Visit Control Panel, select Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Programs and Features (Vista & 7) and scan the resulting list for the screen saver that you're interested in deleting. If you find it, uninstall it there.

When all else fails: *.scr

Unfortunately, not all screen savers appear in the Control Panel. It's often necessary (and frankly, often quicker) to simply locate the screen saver's executable file and delete it. Fortunately, that's pretty easy.

By definition, screen savers are ".scr" files that live in your Windows folders.

Screen Saver files in Windows\System32

You'll want to check these folders:

  • C:\Windows

  • C:\Windows\System32

  • C:\Windows\SysWOW64 (if it exists)

Screensaver files are typically clearly named. Simply delete (or perhaps, backup to a separate location and delete) the files associated with the screen savers that you no longer need.

It's also worth double-checking the list of .scr files that you find here. Screen savers are one vector for malware, so you might also consider backing up (in case we're wrong) and removing any screen savers that you don't use or recognize.

Finally, some screen savers might be under Windows File Protection - anti-malware technology that notices when files have been improperly changed or removed. After deleting the files, you might be prompted to provide your system installation disc; even more surprisingly, the screen savers might magically come back. My honest recommendation is to simply let them be. They pose no threat and take up little space.

Article C4856 - June 25, 2011 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Mr Sandman
June 28, 2011 9:41 AM

Leo: As always, it is a comfort for us amateurs to know that you have most solutions for our computer glitches. thanks for your TLC.

June 28, 2011 10:45 AM

Screensavers were good for always-on CRT monitors to prevent burn-in. LCD's are much less susceptible (but not immune). Plasmas, however, will suffer burn-in. But with current technology to save power by placing idle monitors in standby, it's more effective on two levels. Mostly what bothers me is that it takes much longer to regain control from a screensaver (any of them, regardless of source) than it does to waken a monitor from standby.

From both an energy viewpoint, as well as time, I find screensavers today to be a waste of effort.

Alex Dow
June 28, 2011 11:40 AM

And how many were truly Screensavers, particularly those that displayed a lot of "white", so employing all three colour pixels?

June 29, 2011 9:28 AM

I go with Mike.
I have LCD monitors and I never use screensavers, just 'blank' the screen after 5 minutes.
A keypress or a twitch of the mouse and I'm good to go.

Ken in San Jose
July 2, 2011 10:47 PM

Maybe screensavers are no longer needed. But I use the screensaver from Webshots. It displays pictures you download, or copy your own pictures into it. The world is a beautiful place and I enjoy watching the pictures change every few seconds on the screen when I am not doing anything else.

July 5, 2011 11:10 AM

I have Win XP Pro SP3--my Add/Remove Components does not list
Windows Digital Media Enhancements--
or anything that pertains to screen saver files. Other ideas about where to find that item?

Just use the "when all else fails" instructions in the article.

January 7, 2012 12:04 AM

A screensaver need not be just a pretty picture: it can also use spare processing time to do useful work (to either yourself or the community at large). SETI@home is a classic example of the latter. For the former, I use the Auslogics Disk Defrag Screen Saver (free form to provide XP with an always-on defrag capability comparable to that built into Windows 7 (& Vista?)

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