Windows – Deploy and Configure Photo Screen Saver via GPO

KB ID 0001281 Dtd 02/02/17

Problem

I was tasked with working out how to do this for a client a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would make a decent article. I’m going to have a central server share, with some photos in, then I’m going to copy them down to all the clients, and finally set their screen saver to use those photos as a ‘slide show’ screen saver.

I’ve done this with Windows 10 clients, but it should work with anything newer than Windows XP.

Solution

Create a share folder to put all your photos in, I’m setting Share Permissions Everyone = Read, then on the Security tab, Domain users = Read, and Domain Admins = Full Control.

Screen Saver GPO

Now I’m creating a basic script that will map a drive letter (x:) on the client machine to that share, and copy down all the photos into a folder called “C:\IT Dept\Screensaver”. Save the file with a .bet (batch file) extension.

Group Policy Screen Saver

Now create (or Edit) a GPO thats linked to the OU that contains your users, (remember the thing that looks like an OU in AD called users, isn’t an OU, it’s a ‘container’).

Crete a GPO

Edit your group policy.

Screen Saver Create Group Policy

Run a Logon Script from Group Policy

Navigate to;

User Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Scripts > Logon > Properties

Add > Browse.

GPO Login Script

Now, STAY in the folder when it opens, and copy/paste your batch file in there, its icon should look like the one below.

Import Login Script to GPO

Open > OK > Apply.

Batch File Login Script

Set ScreenSaver Settings via Group Policy

Navigate to;

User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization >Force specific screen saver

Force Screen Saver Settings

Enable the policy and type in PhotoScreensaver.scr > OK > Apply.

Leave the policy editor open!

GPO Slide Show Screen Saver

Windows 10 Screen Saver Settings

These are well hidden, thanks Microsoft! Remember these setting can be deployed to Win7/8 as well. You need to have the local folder with the photos in already to get some settings from, you will have to do this one manually just make sure the folder path is correct!

On a client machine > Start > Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen.

Windows 10 Screen Saver Settings

Scroll down > Screen Saver Settings > Set ‘Photos’ > Settings.

Windows 10 Slide Show

Browse to the photo folder  > Tick Shuffle Pictures > Save.

Screen Saver Settings Location

Run regedit and navigate to;

HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows Photo Viewer > Slideshow > Screensaver

Export Screen Saver from Regedit

Right click and export the whole ‘Screensaver’ key, save it somewhere you can find it.

Copy Screen Saver Settings

Now copy the file you just exported to the server, and double click  it to ‘merge’ it into the registry.

Import Screen Saver Settings

WARNING: There is a registry value in here called EncryptedPIDL, it’s the actual path to the folder that contains the photos, and it’s been encrypted. Because Windows is a bit stupid, it breaks the text down so when you try and import/merge it, it does not work. Also it does not tell you anything went wrong. You can open the file you exported in Notepad, and disable word wrap, then make sure that the EncryptedPIDL value copies over correctly. Or simply create a new ‘string value‘ called EncryptedPIDL and copy and paste it directly from your client onto the servers registry value.

Back in the policy editor that you left open above, navigate to;

User Configuration > Preferences > Windows Settings > Registry > New > Registry Wizard > Next

Deploy Screen Saver reg Settings

Browse down to;

HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows Photo Viewer > Slideshow > Screensaver

Select all the values as shown, (if you cant see EncryptedPIDL see my warning above) > Finish.

Screen Saver Registry Keys

Close the policy editor and wait for the policy to apply, or force it on the clients.

Deploy Registry Settings via GPO

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

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Author: PeteLong

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you, this was very helpful. I was trying to figure out the easiest way to get this accomplished. My marketing department wants to do this across our 4 different brands, and though there will be some back-end script changes that will need to be made when they want to change the images, it shouldn’t be too bad. Thanks for writing this up!

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    • No worries, thanks for the feedback

      P

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