Our corporate BOFH imposes the screen lock setting with a ridiculously short delay. It's frustrating and counterproductive.

Is there a way to prevent the automatic screen lock? I would assume there is no way to override the policy-enforced setting, but maybe there is a software that mimics user activity.

Just asking before I set up a perpetual mouse wheel. (get it?)

  • 5
    Just curious what "ridiculously short" is?
    – Carl
    Aug 30, 2011 at 15:45
  • 13
    15 minutes. OK, it's not that short ... unless you are at home, not in an open space, and also often working on a second computer. Like I am, so the screen lock is obnoxious.
    – Gabriel R.
    Aug 31, 2011 at 10:32
  • 2
    Late to the game here, but wanted to add my solution. Since I don't have admin rights to the PC I use at work, and none of the scripts or programs in this thread worked for me (either they weren't allowed to be installed, or just didn't work), I purchased a "USB Mouse Jiggle" hardware from Amazon. Works like a dream, only $15. Apr 30, 2018 at 11:01
  • 6
    My previous company has a 2-minute screen lock policy. That's not ridiculous but disaster and torturous and sometimes depressing.
    – Lame User
    Dec 27, 2019 at 8:07
  • 2
    This is an excellent way to get fired.
    – Keltari
    Jun 24, 2021 at 2:21

18 Answers 18


Yet another option is freeware Caffeine program. It is free for commercial use as well. From the program's homepage:

If you have problems with your PC locking or going to sleep, caffeine will keep it awake. It works by simulating a key-press once every 59 seconds, so your machine thinks you're still working at the keyboard, so won't lock the screen or activate the screensaver.

Caffeine works by simulating an F15 key up event every 59 seconds. Of all the key presses available, F15 is probably the least intrusive (I've never seen a PC keyboard with that key!), and least likely to interfere with your work.

This off-the-shelf solution also allows you to control when to enable it and disable it:

Double-clicking the program icon empties the coffee pot, which is what the icon represents, and temporarily disables the program. Double-clicking it again refills the pot, and will keep your machine awake.

  • 31
    I'm waiting for the day when a Gov't employee puts Caffeine on their computer and it just so happens that something like Shift+F15 launches the nukes...
    – kazoni
    Jun 24, 2015 at 17:37
  • 1
    The tool works great for me! I had to install the Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable to get it working. microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=26368
    – Synck
    Oct 2, 2019 at 7:07
  • 2
    I think in a corporate environment you could (and should) get into trouble for installing such a tool on a machine, especially if it's not 'your' machine. The VBS solution is much cleaner, at least you know exactly WHAT it does.
    – Bartosz
    Jul 23, 2020 at 9:14
  • 2
    Please keep in mind that simulating key presses is a quite brutal way to keep your screen from locking. For a better way, please check my answer out.
    – PolarBear
    Nov 23, 2020 at 19:20
  • 1
    @Cfomodz, indeed, I see that they have added the -stes option recently (v1.95 - February 2021). I haven't tested it. My previous comment was written before this option was introduced. If the option does what it promises then it is the same as the CoffeeBean program which I recommended in my previous comment.
    – PolarBear
    Sep 2, 2021 at 7:04

If Windows Media Player is still installed, you can play a video on loop and minimize it (the sample "Wildlife" videos work fine for this). By default, as long as a video is playing, the screen won't lock.

  • 8
    Thank you! This is the simplest, most effective solution. (I didn't try it though, I left the company a while ago and try to stay away from Windows.)
    – Gabriel R.
    Apr 16, 2013 at 11:43
  • 6
    I confirm that this works on Windows XP using an MP3 file instead of a video.
    – Alaa Ali
    Sep 23, 2013 at 9:59
  • 6
    Brilliant hack!
    – user42225
    Apr 2, 2014 at 13:51
  • 8
    This also works using VLC for those who prefer it over Windows Media Player
    – ecoe
    May 5, 2014 at 15:22
  • 5
    Works fine in Windows 7. Nice hack!
    – neves
    Nov 5, 2016 at 1:52

I use a script I title idle.vbs:

Dim objResult

Set objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")    

Do While True
  objResult = objShell.sendkeys("{NUMLOCK}{NUMLOCK}")
  Wscript.Sleep (6000)

Every six seconds, this quickly toggles numlock on the keyboard, causing Windows to believe that someone is interacting with the keyboard, preventing screen lock. This runs on vanilla windows, you don't need development or scripting tools to use it, just make a text file with .vbs as the extension and double-click it (or place it in your startup items).

Edit: you can put this script in your startup items with

 choco install IdleVbs -source https://www.myget.org/F/joshrivers-utility/

For more information on the Choclatey (choco) CLI installer please see:


  • 1
    @JoshRivers a way to stop this script, without having to restart the computer, would be nice as well.
    – DeeJayh
    Feb 3, 2017 at 17:52
  • 8
    @DeeJayh I think you can just find the instance of wscript.exe in Task Manager and kill it. There usually aren't a lot of instances of that executable running. You could probably make an automated solution for termination (stackoverflow.com/a/22325745) or by putting code in the Do While section that watches for an external fact. Like have the script create a file on startup, then check that the file exists in While. That way you could just delete the file to make the script terminate. (I never quit the thing, though, so I just run the script and very rarely kill it with Task Manager).
    – JoshRivers
    Feb 4, 2017 at 20:28
  • 3
    On Windows 10, an easy way to locate the startup folder is display the Start->Run window (e.g. WindowsKey+R) and then type shell:startup. See this site for more info thewindowsclub.com/startup-folder-in-windows-8
    – buzz3791
    Apr 12, 2018 at 15:55
  • 1
    To find the script look for Microsoft Windows Based Script Host in your task manager. Or add a column Process Name and then look for wscript.exe.
    – WJA
    Jun 6, 2018 at 8:30
  • 1
    Works great on a Win10 Surface laptop - that does not even have a physical NumLock key!
    – Shahar
    Dec 19, 2018 at 15:45

A lot of these answers are old, and only keep alive through inputs/mouse movement. Compile this in C or C++, this will keep the session alive by setting thread execution state (Windows Only ofcourse)

#include <windows.h>


#define ES_CONTINUOUS       0x80000000
#define ES_DISPLAY_REQUIRED 0x00000002
#define ES_SYSTEM_REQUIRED  0x00000001

int main()
    int result = 0;
        result = SetThreadExecutionState(ES_SYSTEM_REQUIRED | ES_DISPLAY_REQUIRED | ES_CONTINUOUS);
        Sleep(30 * 1000);

    return 0;

  • I don't use Windows anymore these days but this seems useful.
    – Gabriel R.
    Mar 9, 2020 at 15:45
  • I guess it is int main()
    – bracco23
    Mar 11, 2020 at 16:53
  • 2
    A PowerShell equivalent implementation is in superuser.com/a/1596783.
    – Hexagon
    Oct 24, 2020 at 4:46
  • Why does the SetThreadExecutionState need to be repeated every 30 seconds if ES_CONTINUOUS is included? Sep 7, 2022 at 16:07

Extending on Cherona's answer, here is an implementation in PowerShell, using SetThreadExecutionState().

As long the script is running, screen saver and screen lock wouldn't start.

Set-StrictMode -version 3.0

# Definition of SetThreadExecutionState from -
#   http://www.pinvoke.net/default.aspx/kernel32/SetThreadExecutionState.html
#   https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/api/winbase/nf-winbase-setthreadexecutionstate
# "EXECUTION_STATE" changed to "uint", added "public" modifier.
$Signature = @'
[DllImport("kernel32.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Auto, SetLastError = true)]
public static extern uint SetThreadExecutionState(uint esFlags);

$ES_CONTINUOUS        = 0x80000000L
$ES_SYSTEM_REQUIRED   = 0x00000001L

# Details on Add-Type in https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/microsoft.powershell.utility/add-type?view=powershell-7.
$Kernel32 = Add-Type -MemberDefinition $Signature -Name 'Kernel32' -Namespace 'Kernel32' -PassThru

echo "Forcing system to not go to sleep (disable screen saver)."
echo "Close the window to allow sleep again."
$result = $Kernel32::SetThreadExecutionState($ES_CONTINUOUS -bor $ES_DISPLAY_REQUIRED -bor $ES_SYSTEM_REQUIRED)

# Loop until script is forcibly stopped.
While ($true) {
  Start-Sleep (60 * 60 * 24)  # 24 hours.
  • Have you tested this? I was under the impression that you need to keep calling SetThreadExecutionState every so often, to reset the "system idle timer" described here docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/api/winbase/…
    – Cherona
    Oct 24, 2020 at 8:10
  • 1
    @Cherona Yes, I verified that this works for many hours (with the lock screen timeout being set to 1 minute). The documentation is indeed vague, but ES_CONTINUOUS could be interpreted as taking care of that.
    – Hexagon
    Oct 24, 2020 at 9:37

1. (Best option) Microsoft PowerToys Awake

PowerToys Awake enter image description here

How it works under the hood

The tool uses the SetThreadExecutionState WinApi function to keep the screen on. It is the function that video players use to keep the screen on while you are watching a film.

2. CoffeeBean

I have created a tiny tray icon application CoffeeBean similar to the PowerToys Awake. The advantages of my tool are:

  • Lightweight.
  • Supports older versions of Windows.
  • Can be used without installation as a standalone executable.

3. Autohotkey script

If you know the AutoHotkey tool, you can use the following script.

  • The key thing here is SetThreadExecutionState - thank you! It's then a moments work to create an app/script/whatever and use Task Scheduler to run it every 10 minutes.
    – Rhys Jones
    May 28, 2021 at 18:25
  • 1
    @RhysJones, I'm not sure running it once per 10 minutes is going to work well. You don't need to run it periodically. You just need to run it once and keep the process alive. As long as the thread which called SetThreadExecutionState function is alive, OS is not going to lock the screen. That is the idea behind my tray icon application and the Autohotkey script.
    – PolarBear
    Jun 1, 2021 at 6:50
  • You are right - as Hexagon has also noted, the docs are not very precise.
    – Rhys Jones
    Jun 2, 2021 at 5:56

You can create an AutoIt script to either continually press an unused key (e.g. make it toggle the num lock, scroll lock), sleep for a minute or so, and repeat. Alternatively, if you use the keyboard a lot, you could make it move the mouse by a pixel or so in any direction.

If you don't want it continually running, you could also launch the script as a scheduled task (if you have access) to launch after the computer has been inactive for some time.

And this is a very simple script to perform an invisible mouse move, if you don't want to get into AutoIt syntax:

While True
   Local $pos = MouseGetPos()
   MouseMove($pos[0]-1, $pos[1]-1, 0)
   MouseMove($pos[0], $pos[1], 0)

This script moves mouse cursor by one pixel in the up-left direction and after that returns it back, then sleeps for 9 minutes (540000 milliseconds). When script is running, you can see AutoIt icon in the tray. You can stop it right-clicking this icon and choosing the corresponding option.

To make a script, install AutoIt, right-click in any folder and choose New > AutoIt v3 Script, name it, right-click this new script, choose Edit, paste the code provided above and save. You can even compile it to .exe (again, from context menu) to start, for example, from Windows Scheduler.


I like to use easy and integrated options (no additional software), like a powershell script (thanks https://dmitrysotnikov.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/prevent-desktop-lock-or-screensaver-with-powershell/) that uses the "f15" as the key to success (thx to caffeine. It's indeed least interfering)

param($minutes = 180)

write "... screen will be awake for $minutes"

 $myshell = New-Object -com "Wscript.Shell"

 for ($i = 0; $i -lt $minutes; $i++) {
 write "... screen will be awake for" ($minutes-$i)
 Start-Sleep -Seconds 60    

Put this into a myScriptName.ps1 and start it via desktop shortcut or commandline: C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -nop "C:\Users\myUser\Desktop\myScriptName.ps1"

UPDATE: Maybe there was some change from the administrator, but this doesn't work for me anymore Now I have to use an autohotkey-script from NBirnel: https://github.com/nbirnel/nosleep - this work perfect, because it moves the mouse (without distracting any work)

  • I run the code but getting the following error. Please advise c:\Powershell>powershell -nop myScriptName.ps1 myScriptName.ps1 : The term 'myScriptName.ps1' is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program. Check the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again. At line:1 char:1 + myScriptName.ps1 + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ + CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (myScriptName.ps1:String) [], CommandNotFoundException + FullyQualifiedErrorId : CommandNotFoundException c:\Powershell>
    – Sabrina
    Nov 15, 2018 at 13:24
  • 1
    @Sabrina maybe you have to define the full path to your script, so not just "myScriptName.ps1" but "c:\path\to\myScriptName.ps1"
    – MacMartin
    Nov 19, 2018 at 13:37
  • Can be done as an one-liner shortcut: powershell.exe -Command $s = New-Object -com \"Wscript.Shell\"; while(1){write \".\"; $s.sendkeys(\"{F15}\"); Start-Sleep -Seconds 60;} This helps against the policy forbidding PowerShell to execute files. Can be started "minimised" at once.
    – Alexander
    Sep 20, 2021 at 11:50

There is an android app called "Timeout Blocker" that vibrates at an interval and you can put your mouse on it. It says not to use it at work though. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.isomerprogramming.application.timeoutblocker&hl=en

  • 1
    question is asking about Windows..
    – tinker
    Jun 24, 2021 at 1:39

Compile this in Visual Studio or C# Express and run it from a command prompt (or double click it). Requires .NET 4.0 or above. It does everything you are looking for.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Threading;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
using System.Windows.Forms; 

namespace ImWorkin
    class Program
        public enum EXECUTION_STATE : uint
            ES_SYSTEM_REQUIRED = 0x00000001,
            ES_DISPLAY_REQUIRED = 0x00000002,
            ES_CONTINUOUS = 0x80000000
        public SYSTEMTIMEOUTS TimeOuts
            get { return sysTimeouts; }
        public struct SYSTEMTIMEOUTS
            public int BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT;
            public int EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT;
            public int WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT;

        [DllImport("USER32.DLL", CharSet = CharSet.Unicode)]
        public static extern IntPtr FindWindow(string lpClassName, string lpWindowName);

        public static extern bool SetForegroundWindow(IntPtr hWnd);

        [DllImport("kernel32.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Auto, SetLastError = true)]
        static extern EXECUTION_STATE SetThreadExecutionState(EXECUTION_STATE flags);

        [DllImport("user32.dll", SetLastError = true, EntryPoint ="SystemParametersInfo")]
        internal static extern int SystemParametersInfo(int uiAction, int uiParam, ref int pvParam, int fWinIni);

        private static System.Threading.Timer preventSleepTimer = null;
        public const int SPI_GETBATTERYIDLETIMEOUT = 252;
        public const int SPI_GETEXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT = 254;
        public const int SPI_GETWAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT = 256;
        public static int Counter = 0;
        public static int timeOutinMS = 0;
        public static int batteryIdleTimer;
        public static int externalIdleTimer;
        public static int wakeupIdleTimer;
        public static SYSTEMTIMEOUTS sysTimeouts;

        static void Main(string[] args)
            Console.WriteLine("You are about to be workin!! Just a moment...I need to calculate a few values.");
            string dots = string.Empty;
            for (int i =2; i < 60; i++)
                dots = "";
                for (int ii = 0; ii < i; ii++)
                    dots = dots + ".";
                Console.WriteLine("You are about to be workin!! Just a moment...I need to calculate a few values.");


            if (timeOutinMS < sysTimeouts.BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT)
                timeOutinMS = sysTimeouts.BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT;
            if (timeOutinMS < sysTimeouts.EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT)
                timeOutinMS = sysTimeouts.EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT;
            if (timeOutinMS < sysTimeouts.WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT)
                timeOutinMS = sysTimeouts.WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT;

            if (timeOutinMS == 0)
                timeOutinMS = 30;

            Console.WriteLine("OK. I have calculated your computers timeout periods and set the   ");
            Console.WriteLine("necessary hooks. Your computer will not shut off the monitor, will");
            Console.WriteLine("show active in any chat programs,the screensaver is disabled and ");
            Console.WriteLine("the computer will not lock! Anyone looking at you eaither locally ");
            Console.WriteLine("or remotely will think you are hard at work.");
            Console.WriteLine("Now go do something fun...I got your back ;)");
            Console.WriteLine("Oh yeah....if you close this window OR press `q' in this ");
            Console.WriteLine("window you are going to have to actually work.");
            Console.WriteLine("This text will disappear in a 30 seconds. Just in case someone comes ");
            Console.WriteLine("by and reads your screen!");
            Console.WriteLine("Need custom coding? [email protected]");
            while (Console.KeyAvailable == false)
                ConsoleKeyInfo cki = Console.ReadKey(true);

                if (cki.KeyChar == 'q')


        public static void DisableDeviceSleep()
           preventSleepTimer = new System.Threading.Timer(new TimerCallback(PokeDeviceToKeepAwake), null, 0, timeOutinMS * 1000);

        public static void EnableDeviceSleep()

           preventSleepTimer = null;


        private static void PokeDeviceToKeepAwake(object extra)

                   IntPtr Handle = FindWindow("SysListView32", "FolderView");

                   if (Handle == IntPtr.Zero)

                   if (Counter > 1)


        public static void GetSystemTimeOuts()  
            sysTimeouts.BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT = -2;
            sysTimeouts.EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT = -2;
            sysTimeouts.WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT = -2;

            if (SystemParametersInfo(SPI_GETBATTERYIDLETIMEOUT, 0, ref batteryIdleTimer, 0) == 1)
                sysTimeouts.BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT = batteryIdleTimer;
                sysTimeouts.BATTERYIDLETIMEOUT = -1;

            if (SystemParametersInfo(SPI_GETEXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT, 0, ref externalIdleTimer, 0) == 1)
                sysTimeouts.EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT = externalIdleTimer;
                sysTimeouts.EXTERNALIDLETIMEOUT = -1;

            if (SystemParametersInfo(SPI_GETWAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT, 0, ref wakeupIdleTimer, 0) == 1)
                sysTimeouts.WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT = wakeupIdleTimer;
                sysTimeouts.WAKEUPIDLETIMEOUT = -1;

  • Sorry....in the above post everything after the phrase "Looking for." is code and should be compiled. It didn't format correctly. The code demonstrates some pretty cool pInvoke for those interested. Btw....after compiled, I just put it in my path somewhere like c:\windows. This way if I'm at a cmd prompt I can type ImWorkin and I'm good to go :)
    – user205533
    Mar 9, 2013 at 3:34
  • 1
    You can modify your answer by clicking the edit link below it.
    – Dennis
    Mar 9, 2013 at 3:59
  • please edit your first answer and then delete this one.
    – teylyn
    Mar 9, 2013 at 4:00
  • 11
    WTF is up with the "Just a moment, I'm calculating a few values!" dummy loop?
    – KalEl
    Oct 24, 2013 at 13:30
  • 10
    In response to the c# code posted its usually customary to give credit to the author. That happens to be me. I posted this almost two yeas ago on stack Overflow I believe.
    – user407607
    Jan 11, 2015 at 16:59

Mouse Jiggler might be an option: https://mousejiggler.codeplex.com/

  • This works just great :)
    – sunil
    Sep 7, 2017 at 11:46

This is a solution which works for Win10 and with MS Office (that is, PowerPoint) installed:

MS PowerPoint (if MS Office is installed). Hit F5 to start "presentation mode". Now move to a different "desktop" (so that the "presentation" doesn't interfere with your actual work) by pressing Windows-logo + Tab, and you're good to go :)

PS: it might also work for Win7 without multiple "desktops", e.g. with Alt + Tab.


I've been using Mouse Move this for ages now. Advantage over Caffeine, options are customisable via GUI.

The Windows 10 version seems new, needs to be installed from Windows Store. Recommend the older one since is portable.

enter image description here


In my case just this one line did the trick:


Just put it in the Timer_Tick event and set timer interval to e.g. 60000ms.

  • 6
    ok, it's quite late to resume this answer but consider sending not one but two CAPSLOCK if you don't want me to staRT YELLING IN THE MIDDLE OF A STACKOVerflow comment without understanding why (it tooks a couple of minutes to write this comment)
    – Gian Paolo
    Sep 3, 2018 at 8:31
  • @GianPaolo you're right. This is what I did. I thought it's clear but maybe I should modify the answer. Sep 11, 2018 at 7:36
  • And 6 years after answering it’s still a single capslock invoke... smh
    – enorl76
    Jun 10, 2020 at 17:01
  • 1
    Great if this answer could be put into context... e.g. save it as a script, execute in cmd, ... ? - on second thought, other answers provide the context, e.g. superuser.com/a/836346/183485 Jan 4, 2021 at 11:14

I love @JoshRivers 's solution of VB script. And I updated a little bit to stop it with duration time.

Dim objResult
Dim intervalSec
Dim durationSec
Dim cnt

intervalSec = 60
durationSec = 3600

cnt = 0

Set objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")    

Do While True
  objResult = objShell.sendkeys("{NUMLOCK}{NUMLOCK}")
  Wscript.Sleep (intervalSec*1000)
  cnt = cnt + 1
  If durationSec <= (intervalSec * cnt) Then
      Exit Do
  End If

Everyone else are writing scripts to fake being at the keyboard.

The correct way to handle it is to:

  • go into the registry where the policy is
  • set the value to whatever you want
  • and alter the registry key permissions
  • only Deny write access to anyone except yourself

This lets you block the policy from taking effect on your PC. But be aware that you need to have Administrator access to the registry.

  • 4
    When the admins disable the screen lock settings, editing the registry is already disabled.
    – Gabriel R.
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:35
  • @GabrielR. As an administrator you can alter the ACL on the registry keys. If i get the patience i'll link the talk from Mark Russinovish where he mentions getting rid of the Microsoft group policy that locked down his own laptop. If you're an administrator you have full control of the machine. It likely has to start with taking ownership of the registry keys, then granting yourself full control, then denying anyone else anything except read access.
    – Ian Boyd
    Oct 4, 2018 at 16:43
  • I have administrative access and can regedit. How can I find where the policy is set in the registry? I also couldn't find it in gpedit in the usual places.
    – Blaisem
    Sep 14, 2022 at 16:44
  • @IanBoyd I actually am getting a special logon via lsass.exe from the system user in my event logs under security just before I'm timed out. Is this really a group policy / registry thing?
    – Blaisem
    Sep 14, 2022 at 17:26

Mouse Jiggler was the right option for me*

the mouse does not actually move using the zen switch.

a working download link (2022/01): https://mouse-jiggler.fr.uptodown.com/windows

one file, 984Ko, no registry key.

Unzip, run. Use the swithes below from a console or a shortcut to autorun :

MouseJiggler.exe -j -m -z -s 50

this will start MouseJiggler activated (j), minimized (m), with no visible moves (j), triggered every 50 secs.

sources, MouseJiggler switches, chocolatey installation : https://github.com/arkane-systems/mousejiggler

(*) thanks @kkr for your answer. Cafeine was not working for me using the -stes arg (I use putty a lot)


You should disable the "screen lock"/"sleep mode" from control panel > power options > change plan settings. Her in click the drop down for "Put the computer to sleep" and select "never".

  • 6
    Domain admins can have a policy-enforced screen lock in Windows.
    – Gabriel R.
    Nov 18, 2013 at 17:51

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