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How to delete the default screensavers

If you have ever tried deleting any of the screensavers that come with Windows by default, you will have found that simply removing them from your hard drive is not an option, as the screen capture on the right demonstrates.

This error message cryptically notes that it requires "permission from TrustedInstaller to make changes to this file." Even as the administrator, you will not be able to delete these files outright. This article describes a workaround that allows you to remove these files.

Changing the file permissions

By default, files that are crucial to the Windows operating system are protected against modification and removal. While in most cases this is a helpful security measure, the default screensavers are by no means crucial, and can safely be deleted. To do so, you must first change the user permissions of these screensaver files, like so:

  1. Locate the screensaver file you wish to remove using the Windows Explorer. Please refer to the Where are screensavers stored? help article to learn where on your hard drive these files can generally be found.
    • Make sure the file type is "Screen Saver". You can click the "Type" column header to sort by file type.
  2. Once you have located the file, right-click on it and select "Properties".
  3. Click the "Security" tab at the top, then click "Advanced" at the bottom.
    • Please note that you need administrator privileges on your system to be able to alter file permission.
  4. You will find that TrustedInstaller has "Full control" over the file, whereas all other users can only "Read & execute". Click the "Owner" tab, then click the "Edit" button at the bottom of the window.
  5. Click on your username in the list, below "Change user to", then click "OK".
    • You may be prompted that "If you have just taken ownership of this object, you will need to close and reopen this object's properties before you can view or change permissions." Click "OK" to proceed.
  6. Click "OK", then click "OK" again to close the "Properties" window.
  7. Right-click on the file again, and select "Properties". Click the "Security" tab, then click "Edit".
  8. Click once on "Administrators" below "Group or user names", then tick the box next to "Full control", under the "Allow" column header. All boxes in this column will now be checked. Click "OK" to close the window.
  9. Click "OK" again to exit the "Properties" window.

Deleting the screensaver file

Now that you have changed ownership and the permissions of the file to your user account, you should be able to delete the file by right-clicking on it and selecting "Delete". The next time you open Windows's Screen Saver Settings panel, you will find that the screensaver you deleted is no longer among your other screensavers.

  • Windows XP users, for whom the above instructions will probably be unnecessary, may find that screensavers are automatically recovered after they are removed from the Windows folder. The solution is to also remove the same files from the "dllcache" folder (usually located at C:\Windows\dllcache).

Repeat the above steps for every file you wish to delete. To change the permissions of multiple files at once, hold the "Ctrl" button on your keyboard in Windows Explorer and click once on every file you wish to modify. Then right-click on one of the selected files and select "Properties", and you will be changing permissions on all selected files.

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