Screensaver doesn’t come on in Vista

I had an issue on two of my computers where the screen saver would never start. I could preview the screen saver, but no matter how long I waited it would never come on. I tried a number of things, changing various settings, but nothing seemed to work. Last night I did another search on the topic and finally found an answer:

Anyway, the big problem I’ve been having with Vista is my screensaver not working since build 5381, it just would not kick in, I Checked everything, made sure there was nothing preventing the system from idling etc..  I was playing around the other day and it hit me.  Right after 5381 was released, I bought a Microsoft Laser Desktop 6000 KB/Mouse combo.  No, it can’t be that I thought.  Well just for kicks I plugged the PS/2 portion of the wireless reciever in for the keyboard and left the USB as was (essentially making the keyboard PS/2 and the mouse USB).  Still no screensaver, so I figured, OK let’s yank the USB plug.  2 minutes after yanking the cable the screensaver kicked in.  It was the mouse the whole time.

Sure enough, both machines have a Microsoft mouse.

Chris not only figured out the problem, but found a temporary solution:

And for anyone wondering, I did some research into the problem, apparently this issue affects any machine running Media Center with this keyboard/Mouse combo.  If you kill ehtray.exe, the screensaver will kick in, but then your MCE Remote won’t work.

Sure enough, if I kill ehtray.exe on these machines the screen saver kicks in right when it should. I was pretty happy with just finding that out and then today when looking for the post so that I could write this entry I found that Chris had figured even more out about the issue:

It turns out that with this KB/Mouse setup and a few others released around the same time they introduced a new “Microsoft Wireless Desktop Receiver 3.0A”.  Previous wireless sets had the 2.0A receiver, and I just happened to have one of these old receivers lying around.  Plugged it in, aquired signal with my devices and walked out of the room.  When I came back 5 minutes later, the screensaver was working as I would expect it to.  So it’s the receiver, not the keyboard or the mouse.  When I called Microsoft support about the issue, they said it is known but have no plans to fix the issue and outright refused to send me a working receiver.

Seems pretty lame that MS knows this is an issue but isn’t going to fix it. I wonder how many of these receivers are out there? The bummer thing is that on one of the machines the mouse is part of a keyboard/mouse combo which I paid a lot of money for. Now I have to either get a new one or kill the ehtray.exe process everytime I reboot.

A fix has been posted to Windows Update that is called “HID Non-User Input Data Filter” as posted below by RYAN and Fred. Thanks to my readers for keeping an eye on this. I installed the update and it does fix the issue. Thanks Microsoft!

I never could get the Vista screensaver to kick in…  If it IS ehtray, then I’m sure if you have Home Basic or the Business edition you won’t have this problem, as they do not come with Media Center

Just run MSCONFIG from a Run dialog and uncheck ehtray.  It is listed as “Microsoft Windows Operating System”, but if you expand the “Command” column, you’ll see “c:\windows/ehome/ehTray.exe”.  Uncheck it so you can easily re-enable it if you decide to use the Media Center remote.

If you’re running a dedicated Media Center, then ehtray.exe is a GOOD thing! You don’t want a screensaver coming on while you’re watching tv.

Hmmm… killing ehtray didn’t work. I downloaded an optional update via Windows Update…To resove this behavior, plug in a wireless receiver, and then visit the following Microsoft Windows Update Web site to check for updates: (
Install the update that appears as Optional Hardware Update and has the following title:
Microsoft HID Non-User Input Data Filter
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Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.