How can I disable the Screen Saver on the login window?

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    -1, the accepted solution is unclear. It should indicate what to place in the plist file. – Gili Nov 18 '12 at 6:18
  • The accepted solution should be the one proposed by Kurt. – Mike Kormendy Dec 31 '15 at 19:01

You can edit the .plist file at /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver either using a text editor, Plist Editor (requires the OS X Developer Tools) or the defaults command in Terminal to remove the screensaver at login window.

Like this:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver loginWindowIdleTime 0
  • 1
    how to edit it there? what to add, or what to set, or what to delete? – Oleg Danu Jan 21 '11 at 7:09
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    What does your com.apple.screensaver file have in it? Can you post the contents to Pastie? For what its worth, using defaults to read my file returns this and I don't ever get a screensaver. Note however that I'm running 10.6.6, so if your file uses the old (XML) style of .plist, don't sweat it. You could just try trashing the file too. – Just Jake Jan 21 '11 at 7:16
  • -1, doesn't work for me under Mountain Lion. – Gili Nov 18 '12 at 6:13
  • The file is a binary plist file (under 10.8 anyway) and to be edited with a text editor must first be converted using plutil -convert xml1 /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver.plist. Then the file can be edited and the screen saver changed. – Josh Mar 10 '13 at 13:26

I believe this does the trick (at least it seems to have worked for mefor several hours now):

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver loginWindowIdleTime 0

This disables the screensaver in the loginwindow.

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    I believe this should be the answer since I always use it on my servers. – bloudraak May 20 '13 at 7:43

It isn't possible to disable the login screensaver in Mountain Lion due to a bug. According to https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4540671?start=0&tstart=0 the best you can do is log into root's screensaver settings and change it to Message which uses less resources.

See https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/16515/21181 for how to do that.


For some reason I don't understand yet, the solution in the accepted answer didn't work for me. Below is an alternative method that actually did work for me.

Before doing anything, i noticed that a file called com.apple.screensaver.plist did not yet exist in /Library/Preferences/. But issuing the defaults -command as mentioned in the accepted answer created this file with correct loginWindowIdleTime-entry just fine. This was confirmed both with defaults read /Library/Preferences/com.apple.screensaver as well as by manually confirming the files' existence and inspecting its' contents.

However, it didn't seem to have any effect on the screensaver-behaviour in the Login Screen whatsoever.

I then used a different approach that actually did work:

  1. I opened a command-prompt (Terminal window)
  2. First I issued $ > sudo -s to become root
  3. Then, as root, I started System Preferences: # > /Applications/System\ Preferences.app/Contents/MacOS/System\ Preferences
  4. And finally I went into the Desktop and Screen Savers Preference-Pane to use the regular GUI to disable the screensaver timeout.

This did the trick for me.

I'm wondering though, if the defaults-command perhaps did actually work fine already, just the changed plist-value wasn't picked-up (synced) yet by the (still running?) screensaver process…


The problem is that the login screen is not the result of the screen saver, I lock my Mac when I go out. The screen saver appears by itself, even if it is disabled from SysPref.

  • Clarification comments should not be added to the proposed list of answers. The original question should be modified to address additional conditions so as to produce the most succinct answers. – Mike Kormendy Dec 31 '15 at 19:03

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