HOW TO: Determine If Screen Saver Is Running by Using Visual Basic 6.0

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This article demonstrates how to detect if a screen saver is running by using Visual Basic 6.0. In this sample, you use the SystemParametersInfo function and specify the SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING parameter.


The following list outlines the recommended hardware, software, network infrastructure, and service packs that you need:
  • Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Window Millennium Edition (Me), Microsoft Windows 2000, or Microsoft Windows 98 (see the References section for articles that relate to earlier versions of Windows)
In addition, this article assumes that you have Visual Basic 6.0 programming experience.

Create an Application That Determines Screen Saver State

  1. Start Visual Basic 6.0, and then create a new Standard EXE project. Form1 is created by default.
  2. Add a Timer control to Form1, and then set the Interval property of the Timer to 1000. This interval represents one second.
  3. Right-click the form, and then click View Code. Add the following code to the General Declarations section of Form1's module:
    Option Explicit
    Private Declare Function SystemParametersInfo _
        Lib "user32" _
        Alias "SystemParametersInfoA" _
          (ByVal uiAction As Long, _
           ByVal uiParam As Long, _
           pvParam As Any, _
           ByVal fWInIni As Long) As Boolean
    Private Const SPI_GETSCREENSAVEACTIVE As Long = &H10
    Private Const SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING As Long = &H72
  4. Define a form-load handler procedure for your form. Add the following code, which displays a caption to indicate whether the screen saver is active:
    Private Sub Form_Load()
        Dim bActive As Boolean
        ' Find out if screen saver is active, and display a suitable message.
        SystemParametersInfo SPI_GETSCREENSAVEACTIVE, 0, bActive, False
        If bActive Then
            Me.Caption = "Screen saver is active"
            Me.Caption = "Screen saver is not active"
        End If
    End Sub
  5. Define a timer-event handler procedure for the timer. This event occurs once every second. Add the following code to this procedure, which produces a sound if the screen saver is running:
    Private Sub Timer1_Timer()
        Dim bRunning As Boolean
        ' Beep if the screen saver is running.
        SystemParametersInfo SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING, 0, bRunning, False
        If bRunning Then
        End If
    End Sub

Verify That It Works

  1. If a screen saver is not enabled on the computer, follow these steps to enable a screen saver:
    1. Right-click in the desktop, and then click Properties.
    2. In the Display Properties dialog box, on the Screen Saver tab, select a screen saver. Wait for approximately one minute, and then click OK.
  2. Build and run your Visual Basic application. The form caption in your application displays the following message:
    Screen saver is active
    NOTE: If the caption displays the "Screen saver is not active" message, the screen saver is not enabled.
  3. Wait for the screen saver to begin running. You hear short beeps at one-second intervals until the screen saver stops.
  4. Close your Visual Basic application.
  5. Reset the screen saver to your settings as appropriate.


  • This application only calls SystemParametersInfo with the SPI_GETSCREENSAVEACTIVE parameter when the application starts to run. If the user changes the screen saver settings after this time, this information is not updated in the Visual Basic application.
  • Earlier versions of Windows, such as Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and Microsoft Windows 95, do not support the SPI_GETSCREENSAVERRUNNING parameter to SystemParametersInfo. If you want to determine if a screen saver is running on these earlier versions of Windows, refer to the References section.


For additional information about a low-level technique that uses the Windows C application programming interface (API) and message hooks, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
238882 HOWTO: Know When Your Screen Saver Starts
For additional information about an alternative technique for Windows NT 4.0, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
150785 INFO: Detect if a Screen Saver Is Running on Windows NT
For additional information about how to determine which version of 32-bit Windows you are running, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
189249 HOWTO: Determine Which 32-Bit Windows Version Is Being Used


Article ID: 315725 - Last Review: October 26, 2002 - Revision: 1.0
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Enterprise Edition
kbhowto kbhowtomaster kbapi KB315725

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