Set a photo screen saver – hide private photos in Windows

Show off your best photos using the Photo Gallery screen saver

A screen saver is a great way to show off your photos, but there may be some you don’t want people to see. Let’s set up a photo slide show screen saver while hiding private photos.

Show your best photos for everyone to see

Screen savers were originally created for preventing burn-in of static images the computer screen, but that was in the days of the old CRT monitor. Today’s LCD screens do not suffer from that problem to any significant degree and this means that screen savers are just fun displays that appear when the computer is idle.

A secondary function is that they can lock your account so that if someone comes along when you are away from your computer, they will not be able to access it.

Several screen savers are bundled with Windows and a great one to use is the Photo Gallery slide show. This displays the photos in your Pictures folder on the screen, swapping one image for the next as it works its way through all your images. Great! But...

Unfortunately, there may be photos in the Pictures folder that you would rather people not see, like portrait shots when you blinked at the wrong time and you have your eyes shut, photos taken at night when the flash didn’t go off, that awful mustache or hair-do you had a few years ago, and so on.

There is another problem with this screen saver and Windows 10 has buried it where you might not be able to find it. It certainly isn’t in any obvious place, so let’s see how to find it and then how to configure it to show only the photos we want to show.

1 Go to Settings

In Windows 10, click Start and then click Settings, or just press Windows+I to open Settings. Click Personalisation.

 Windows 10 Settings app

2 Theme settings

This is where it gets a bit weird and the screen saver cannot be found anywhere in Settings. It should be in Personalisation, but it isn’t. There are two ways to access it and one is to type screen saver into the search box in the top right corner.

The second method is to select Themes on the left and then click Theme settings on the right.

 Themes in the Windows 10 Settings app

3 Control panel options

The Control Panel appears with Personalisation selected. This is one of those awkward moments in Windows 10. Some personalisation settings are in the new Settings app and some are in Personalisation in the Control Panel. Click Screen Saver in the bottom right corner.

 The Personalisation settings in the Windows 10 Control Panel

4 Pick a screen saver

There is a list of screen savers and Photo Gallery should be selected from the list. Do not click OK or Apply because the default setting is to show every photo in your Pictures folder. Click the Settings button.

 Screen saver selection in Windows

5 Browse for photos

Half way down the Photo Gallery Screen Saver Settings is the folder to take the photos from and the default is C:\Users\YourName\Pictures. The Browse button on the right is used to select a different folder. However, before we do that...

 Screen saver settings in Windows 10

6 Create a folder

Open Explorer and select the Pictures folder in the left panel. Click the New Folder icon at the top of the window and then enter a name for the new folder, such as Slide Show. It can be called anything you want. Drag photos into this folder or copy them to it. They will be used for the slide show.

 File Explorer in Windows 10 - create a new folder

7 Select the folder

Back at Photo Gallery Screen Saver Settings (step 5), click the Browse button and select the folder to show photos from - the one you just created in Explorer and copied photos to. Click OK.

 Set the folder for the Photo Gallery screen saver in Windows 10

8 Slide show theme

Now you can see that the photos to display are in C:\Users\YourName\Pitcures\Slide Show.

The screen saver can show your photos in a variety of different ways, such as fade, sepia, album, frame and so on. It can pick one at random every time the screen saver starts, or you can select one from the drop-down list. Pan and zoom is a good one to try.

 Photo Gallery screen saver settings in Windows 10

That’s it. Click the OK buttons and close the windows. The next time your PC is idle, it will display the photos in the Slide Show folder.

Only the photos you place in the Slide Show folder, or whatever you called it, will be shown. All your other photos are hidden and kept private.


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