How to change the screensaver on XFCE

The XFCE desktop environment, for as good as it is, still fundamentally is built on older technology than ones like Gnome Shell or KDE Plasma 5. This fact especially shows with its choice to go with screensavers, rather than a modern, lock-screen way of doing things. Still, though using a screensaver may be considered outdated, XFCE4 does it well by offering users Xscreensaver, an easily configurable and customizable screensaver tool.

Change the screensaver

To tweak your screensaver options on the XFCE desktop, you’ll need to access the main settings window. To gain access to this area, open up the application menu, and click on the settings icon. Alternatively, press Alt + F2 on the keyboard to bring up the quick-launch menu. Then, write “xfce4-settings-manager” and press Enter to open up settings instantly.

With the main settings window open on the XFCE desktop, scroll through the list of options on the screen until you find “Screensaver.” Double-click on the “Screensaver” icon to access the configuration area for XFCE and Xscreensaver.

In the screensaver settings for XFCE, you’ll see a whole lot of different options to choose from. Ignore all of the options and look for the list on the right. In this list, there are several different screensavers to choose from. Feel free to uncheck boxes to screensavers for ones you don’t want.

Or, to set Xscreensaver only to use one screensaver, find the “Mode” menu and click on the drop-down arrow. From here, look through the menu and change it from “Random Screen Saver,” to “Only One Screensaver.”

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Once the Xscreensaver system is set to “Only One Screensaver,” go through the list of different screensavers on the left and select the screensaver you’d like to use on XFCE with the Xscreensaver system.

Change screensaver triggers

By default, the XFCE screensaver is configured to activate after about 10 minutes of inactivity. For a lot of users, 10 minutes is too soon, as many often sit at their computers, reading something only to be interrupted by a screensaver.

If the default time limit annoys you, you’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to tweak and change the time that Xscreensaver activates. To do this, open up the screensaver settings in XFCE, and make your way to “Blank After” area at the bottom left portion of the window.

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To set the screensaver activation time, click the text-box, and change it from 10 minutes to a higher number. Then, close the window as the settings will apply themselves to the system automatically.

Screensaver change interval

If you’re using XScreensaver on XFCE and you have “Random Screensaver” enabled, but don’t like how quickly the system cycles between individual screensavers, you can change it by going to the “Cycle After” settings for Xscreensaver.

To access the “Cycle After” settings, open up the XFCE settings on your Linux desktop and go to the Xscreensaver settings and look for “Cycle After” at the bottom of the window, under the “Blank After” area.

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The default settings for Xscreensaver to change from one screensaver to another is about 10 minutes. If you want the system to do this quicker, change the number to something lower than 10 minutes. Or, to have it change slower, change it to a number higher than 10 minutes.

Once the new number is added to “Cycle After” in the Xscreensaver settings, the system should automatically adopt the latest changes.

Disable the screensaver

You may want to disable the Xscreensaver system altogether from your XFCE desktop environment if you hate screensavers, and don’t want to see weird shapes and videos playing when your computer goes into idle mode. It’s understandable; screensavers aren’t for everyone.

There are two ways to shut off the Xscreensaver system on XFCE. In this section, we’ll show you both ways to do it.

Method 1 – Turn off Xscreensaver entirely

To shut off Xscreensaver so that the system doesn’t go into effect ever, open up the screensaver settings in XFCE. Then, from there, locate the “Mode” drop-down menu button and click it with the mouse to reveal options.

In the options menu, find “Disable Screen Saver” and select it to shut off Xscreensaver for your XFCE desktop environment permanently.

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When you’ve set it to “Disable Screen Saver,” close the window to finish applying the settings.

Method 2 – Disable animations but keep Xscreensaver

Want to disable the weird animations that Xscreensaver plays when your PC is idle but maintain the locking function? If so, here’s what to do. First, open up the Screensaver settings for XFCE and click on the “Mode” drop-down menu with the mouse.

Look through the “Mode” drop-down menu for “Blank Screen Only” and set Xscreensaver to it, so that the system will lock your screen but not play animations.

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Once Xscreensaver is set to “Blank Screen Only,” close the window.

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