Friday, February 25, 2011

Group Policy to Turn Off Display

If you want to turn off the user's monitor/display to save power and extend monitor life using Group Policy & Active Directory (Server 2008 R2, probably works in earlier versions as well), consider the following group policy setting:

  • Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > System > Power Management > Video and Display Settings > Turn Off the Display (Plugged In or On Battery)
Just set a timeout value, and go!

There seems to be another setting which only applies to Windows Vista and above - "Turn Off Adaptive Display Timeout", which is pretty confusing based on the wording.  Here is what I think it does: you know how sometimes, your screensaver or monitor just begin to shut off when those timeouts are hit, but you move the mouse real quick to stop that from happening?  In that case, I have seen that even though the machine begins to activate the screensaver, lock the screen, or shut off the monitor, you can sort of "catch it" before it finishes and it lets you right back in.  That's the adaptive part - the system detects this condition where you just about timeout but catches it before it finishes happening.  Based on how much this happens to you, Windows automatically adjusts the Display timeout value to try to prevent timeouts from being annoying.

The group policy wording states: "When this policy is enabled, Windows automatically adjusts the setting based on what users do with their keyboard or mouse to keep the display on. When this policy is disabled, Windows uses the same setting regardless of users’ keyboard or mouse behavior. If you don’t configure this setting, users can see and change this setting.".  It's confusing because they say "Turn Off" is "enabled" - but I think what they mean is, the adaptive timeout for turning off the display policy is enabled or disabled.  That makes more sense to me at least.  I will test it and see what happens.

There is also nice post over on the Microsoft Directory Services team blog that discusses other power management options with AD.


  1. not found option power management in the group policy. Please help....

    1. What operating system/version are you using?

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  2. Did you figure out what enabled vs. disabled means on that "adaptive timeout" setting? I agree, the wording is quite unclear. Thanks!

    1. I went back and looked through my notes. At the time I believed the "help" section was incorrect and the meaning was what the title of the policy says. So "enabling" turn off means to turn it off, and "disabling" turn off means let it be on.

      I just tested it again in my lab, and couldn't prove it one way or the other. When I tested it before, I thought that the title is correct but the description is wrong. I still think that is the case - the group policy title is what it does - and the documentation is incorrect.

      On my production systems, I just left the setting at the default and never had any complaints from users.

      The only way to know for sure is to contact Microsoft. If I have the ability I'll see if I can get an answer from their tech support.

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  4. Not exactly. I have users that keep, disconnecting display and reconnecting them on other machines to make dual display setups. I am wondering if there is a way to disable the ability to have more than one display connected, perhaps thru group policy or the registry?

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