I am looking for a tool to lock my desktop (Windows) but leave the actual windows or at least snapshot of them visible.
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Stick to Transparent Screen Lock PRO - the PRO version is much better than the base version. "Lock My PC" is not really a professional program and I was able to defeat it quite easily.
Transparent Screen Lock uses the user's actual username and password and does not store a password like Lock My PC does so it is much more secure.
Lock My PC (shareware, S29.95) features custom lock screens and transparent lock screen options - your computer can be used as a presentation machine - the screen displays pictures or video, but nobody can touch your computer.
... and much more.
Transparent Screen Lock (shareware, from $24.95) enables IT professionals to prevent unauthorized system access, while maintaining the ability to view applications running on the desktop for monitoring purposes.
Try the Vista/Win7 Bubbles screen saver. Set require password to resume. For XP here is directions and download link. If you don't want the bubbles you can tweak to 1 small bubble or something.
Look for other screen savers like rain or snow that still show the desktop just a little messy.
The feature you are looking for is called Kiosk Mode. It has existed since XP and still exists in Windows 11. It's the only official and secure way to do what you want.
Specifically in Assigned access single-app kiosk:
A single-app kiosk uses the assigned access feature to run a single app above the lock screen. When the kiosk account signs in, the app is launched automatically. The person using the kiosk cannot do anything on the device outside of the kiosk app.
There are other kiosk modes, like Assigned access multi-app kiosk, that can allow the user to have a locked down desktop but this is harder to configure and secure. I recommend using the single-app mode.