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How to view apps preventing sleep on Windows 10

If you leave your Windows 10 system idle for a while, whether you’re on the desktop or your desktop is locked, it will eventually enter Sleep. This is a system preset where you do not have to set anything up though you can customize the idle timeout period or schedule when the system sleeps. For a Windows 10 system to enter sleep, the idle timeout is important but user activity isn’t the only thing that can prevent it. Apps and background processes can prevent a system from entering sleep. Unfortunately, there’s no simple GUI-based method to view apps preventing sleep on Windows 10. That said, you can use a simple command-line command to do the job.

View apps preventing sleep on Windows 10

In order to view which apps are preventing a system from entering sleep, you need admin rights. This is because the command will examine instructions being sent to the OS’s power management policy.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run the following command, as is. Do not change anything.
powercfg /requests
  1. The command will return a list of processes and apps that are preventing Windows 10 from entering sleep.

Understanding results

The results aren’t presented in the most user-friendly format; such is the nature of information you’ll get from command-line tools. That said, here’s a simple breakdown of the information you might see.

  • Display: This will show processes that have taken over the display e.g. an app in full-screen mode. This could be a media player like the Movies & TV app, or it could be presentation software like PowerPoint. It could also be a screen recording tool like OBS.
  • System: This will show system processes though the system processes may be invoked by other apps that are running. For example, if an audio stream is playing, the audio driver will be in use and will appear to be preventing the system from entering sleep. You will normally be able to see which apps are using the audio device on your system so quitting it shouldn’t be too hard.
  • Awaymode: This will show apps exclusively. It’s a command that apps send to Windows 10 telling it to keep the system awake. Apps can programmatically do this.

Conclusion

Some apps do need to prevent sleep in order to work. Sleep won’t prevent the system from locking but as long as the system is awake, whatever the app needs to do e.g., process a file, it will still be able to do it. You can leave the system knowing that whatever you’ve set it to do will be done by the time you get back to work.

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