May 22, 2024

New Screensaver Timeout

To Staff 

On August 1, 2012, we will be implementing a new university-wide screensaver timeout for University of Mary Washington systems.  The timeout is required by the Virginia Information Technology Agency for all Commonwealth owned computers and is also a best practice to secure your device.  This timeout will be set for 30 minutes of inactivity.  After 30 minutes of inactivity, your screen will lock, and you will be required to enter your password to unlock the system.  This will not cause any programs to close or shut down; it will only prompt you to log back in.  

This change will not affect PCs in open areas intended for public use, labs, classrooms or signage equipment.  

If you have a non-Windows PC (such as Mac or Linux), you will need to manually change your settings and set a screensaver timeout.  The instructions are at the end of this email.  The Help Desk is also available to assist. 

In addition, I would ask all of you that when you leave your desk, please lock your system.  This can be easily done by holding down the Windows key (bottom left of your keyboard between the CTRL and Alt keys) and pressing the L key.  This will lock your PC.  When you return, hold down the Alt, Ctrl and Delete keys.  You will then be prompted to enter your password.  This will not close any open programs.  This helps to protect your computer from unauthorized access.

We recognize that the auto-lock feature introduces a certain level of inconvenience as we interact with computing resources on a daily basis. The computer resources at UMW have significant value and as faculty, staff and students, we must take reasonable precautions to protect them.  Please consider the 30 minute screen saver requirement to be a safety net to help prevent inappropriate access to your computer and the files/data you are permitted to use. 

Locking your computer is a simple yet effective way of further protecting UMW data and system access.  It will help protect you and the University against unauthorized use.  I would like to thank all of you for your assistance in protecting the confidentiality and integrity of the University of Mary Washington’s systems and data.  

Please feel free to contact the UMW IT Help Desk at or (540) 654-2255.  You may also contact me if you have any questions or concerns.  

Thank you,


Ray Usler,  CISSP, CISM

Director of IT Security and ISO

University of Mary Washington           


Mac and Linux instructions 

Mac OS X

1. Screensaver Configuration

a. Open System Preferences either by clicking on the dock icon or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu

b. Select Desktop & Screensaver

c. Click on the Screen Saver button and select a screensaver, or check Use random screen saver

d. Set the Start screen saver: timer to 30 minutes or less

e. Click back to return to the System Preferences Menu

f. Click on “Security” or “Security & Privacy” (OSx version dependent)

g. Place a checkmark next to “Require a password for sleep and screensaver” and set the level to “Immediately”

h. You will also have to check “Disable automatic login” if it is not already

2. Locking the screen manually

a. Open a Finder window and navigate to Utilities -> Keychain Access

b. Double click on Keychain Access to run the application

c. On the Mac’s menu bar select Preferences…

d. On the General tab, check the box Show Status in Menu Bar and close Keychain Access

e. A lock icon is now on the right side of the Mac’s Menu Bar.

f. To manually lock the desktop, click the lock icon and select Lock Screen

RedHat Linux (Gnome Desktop)

1. Screensaver Configuration

a. From the menu bar select System, Administration and Screensaver.

b. This will open a new window from which you can select a screen saver.

c. Check the box that says to require a password to unlock the screen saver and set the time to 15 minutes or less.

2. Locking the screen manually

a. In the menu bar select System and Lock System.