Leaving your computer screen unlocked can lead to anyone access your system, read emails and view your documents. It is a good habit to lock your screen whenever you move away from the computer for a meeting, lunch or coffee. Windows offers multiple ways to lock your screen and you can choose the one that fits your style.
Turning off Screen Display and Put Device to Sleep
Before we proceed, it is necessary to understand the difference between turning off the display screen (also referred as screen timeout) and locking your screen. Windows power setting allows you to setup the actions when you are inactive for certain period of time.
- You can turn the display screen off
- Put your device to sleep mode
You can choose separate set of timers for these options when your computer is running on battery and power adapter. However, many users confuse this setting with screen lock in Windows. When you turn off the screen, it does not lock your computer. You can simply press any key or move the mouse to turn on the screen and access the system. But when the computer goes into sleep mode, it will be locked generally and needs a login password to wake up again. However, both screen lock out and device sleep mode are set with sufficient time like 5 minutes. This is sufficient for anyone to steal your data and hence locking the screen is important to protect your computer.
Remember, locking the computer will show you Windows logon screen. You need to enter the username and password to login back to your computer.
Lock Windows PC Screen
Here are different ways you can lock your computer’s screen and protect from unauthorized access.
1. Control + Alt + Delete
Pressing Alt + Control + Delete keys will open security options window in a full screen mode. You have a list of options to select and “Lock” is the first option. Other options in the list include Switch user, Sing out, Change a password and Task Manager. Since all these actions are often needed in Windows, Alt + Control + Delete is the most commonly used option for locking a PC.
2. Win + L Shortcut
Next option Win + L keyboard shortcut is another popular option for locking your PC. This will instantly lock the screen without any additional prompt.
3. From Start Menu
If you have the habit of doing everything from Start menu in Windows, then you can also lock the screen from there. Click on the Start menu and then click on your account profile icon. Now, select “Lock” the option and lock your computer’s screen.
4. Lock Using Task Manager
Though this is a lengthy route, you can still use this option.
- Search and open Task Manager app in your PC.
- Go to “Users” tab and right click on the username.
- Select “Disconnect” from the menu.
- Confirm the action by clicking on “Disconnect user” button.
Note that this will not sign out you from the account. It will simply lock your screen and take you to the logon screen. You can login back and see all your open apps are available where you left.
5. From Windows Terminal
Windows has command for every action and locking your screen is not an exception. Go to Windows Terminal app and run the following command in Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell.
This will instantly lock the screen and you will see the Terminal app when logging back again.
6. Use Run Prompt
Instead of using Windows Terminal, you can alternatively run the command from Run prompt. Press “Win + R” to open Run prompt and paste the same above command. Press “OK” button to lock your screen.
7. Create Desktop Shortcut for Locking PC
If you are a shortcut fanatic, then you can create a desktop shortcut for lock screen action. The advantage here is that you can pin the shortcut to taskbar or Start menu and quickly access from there as well.
- First, right click on the empty area of your desktop and select “New > Shortcut” from the context menu.
- This will open “Create Shortcut” wizard and enter the same above command in the location box. Click “Next” button to continue further.
- On next screen, enter name for your shortcut. You can provide any name like “Lock Windows” or “Lock Screen” or something that you understand easily.
- Click “Finish” button to create a desktop shortcut.
Your desktop shortcut icon will look like below and double click on the shortcut to lock the screen instantly.
If you want to pin the shortcut, right click on it and select “Show more options” and then select “Pin to taskbar” from the context menu. Alternatively, select the shortcut icon and press “Shift + F10” to open the full right click context menu to select “Pin to taskbar” option.
After the shortcut is added to taskbar, you can any time click on it to lock your screen.
8. Setup Screensaver for Auto Locking
The last option is to automatically lock your screen by setting up a screen saver. The difference here is that the screen will be active showing the screensaver unlike instantly showing the startup screen in all the above options.
- Press “Win + I” and open Windows Settings app.
- Go to “Personalization” section and click “Lock Screen” option.
- Scroll down and click on “Screen Saver” option under “Related settings” section.
- On the “Screen Saver Settings” pop-up that appears, select your screen saver from the list to enable other options.
- Choose the “Wait” time to activate the screen saver and make sure to enable the check box in front of “On demand, display logon screen” option.
- Click “Apply” to save your settings and click “OK” to close the pop-up.
Let’s say, if you have set 1 minute as wait time, then after 1 minute of inactiveness the screen saver will be displayed. When you move the mouse or press any key on the keyboard, it will go to the initial logon screen.