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Conserving Power

Environmental and money concerns make power management an issue for desktop as well as laptop users. Control Panel's Power Options utility lets you configure hardware features that reduce power consumption, affect how the power switch works, and extend the life of computer parts by turning them off or switching them to a low-power state.

To optimize your computer's power use, Windows uses a power plan—a collection of settings that reduces the power consumption of certain system devices or of your entire system. (Power plans were called power schemes in earlier Windows versions.) You can use the default power plans provided with Windows or create your own by using one of the default plans as a starting point. You can change settings for any of your custom plans or the default plans to, for example:

  • Make your computer go to sleep or turn off the display after a specified idle period
  • Adjust the brightness of your display
  • Require a password to unlock the computer when it wakes from sleep
  • Choose what your computer does when you press the hardware power and sleep buttons or (for a laptop) close the lid

To set a power plan:

  • Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options and select a power plan (Figure 4.62).

    Figure 4.62

    Figure 4.62 The Power Options page is the main switchboard for choosing, creating, and editing power plans.


    Choose Start, type power options in the Search box, press Enter, and select a power plan.


    If the battery icon appears in the notification area on the taskbar, click it and select a power plan (Figure 4.63).

    Figure 4.63

    Figure 4.63 Click the battery icon to pick a power plan.

Table 4.3 describes the plans that come with Windows. Your PC manufacturer or system administrator may have added others (or customized the battery icon).

Table 4.3. Power Plans




Offers full performance when you need it and saves power during periods of inactivity. This plan is fine for most people's needs.

Power Saver

Maximizes battery life by reducing system performance. If you're a laptop user, use this plan if you travel often and rely on battery power for long periods.

High Performance

Maximizes system performance and responsiveness. If you're a desktop user, use this plan for processor-intensive tasks like editing video, playing 3D games, and doing engineering or scientific calculations.

To set low and critical battery behavior:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options (refer to Figure 4.62).
  2. Under the selected plan, click Change Plan Settings.
  3. Click Change Advanced Power Settings.
  4. On the Advanced Settings tab, expand Battery (Figure 4.65).
    Figure 4.65

    Figure 4.65 Windows monitors your battery's charge and warns you when it reaches low and critical levels. Don't set these levels so low that you won't have a chance to install a charged battery, find a power outlet, or save your work and turn off your laptop. Try 25% (low) and 10% (critical) initially.

  5. To set the charge levels at which battery notifications occur, expand Low Battery Level and Critical Battery Level; then choose the percentage that you want for each level.


    To set what to do when a battery notification occurs, expand Low Battery Action and Critical Battery Action; then choose the action that you want for each level.


    To turn battery-level notifications on or off, expand Low Battery Notification, click On Battery, and then choose On or Off.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Save Changes.

To create your own power plan:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options (refer to Figure 4.62).
  2. Click Create a Power Plan (on the left).
  3. On the Create a Power Plan page, select the plan that's closest to the type of plan that you want to create (Figure 4.66).
    Figure 4.66

    Figure 4.66 If you want to create a plan to conserve energy, for example, start with Power Saver.

  4. In the Plan Name box, type a name for your plan; then click Next.
  5. On the Change Settings for the Plan page, choose the display and sleep settings that you want to use when your computer is running on battery and when it's plugged in; then click Create (Figure 4.67).
    Figure 4.67

    Figure 4.67 If you're using a laptop, On Battery will appear.

To change an existing power plan:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options (refer to Figure 4.62).
  2. Under the plan that you want to change, click Change Plan Settings.
  3. On the Change Settings for the Plan page, choose the new settings (Figure 4.69).
    Figure 4.69

    Figure 4.69 This page will vary depending on whether you're using a laptop or a desktop computer.

  4. If you don't want to change any more settings, click Save Changes.


    To change additional power settings, click Change Advanced Power Settings; then complete steps 5 and 6.

  5. Change the settings on the Advanced Settings tab (Figure 4.70).
    Figure 4.70

    Figure 4.70 Expand the category that you want to customize, expand each setting that you want to change, and then choose the values that you want to use when your computer is running on battery and when it's plugged in.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Save Changes.

To delete a power plan:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options (refer to Figure 4.62).
  2. If the active plan is the one that you want to delete, make a different plan the active plan.
  3. Under the plan that you want to delete, click Change Plan Settings.
  4. On the Change Settings for the Plan page, click Delete This Plan.
  5. When prompted, click OK.

To configure system settings for power options:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options (refer to Figure 4.62).
  2. Click Require a Password on Wakeup (on the left).
  3. Choose the settings for the power and sleep buttons, laptop lid, and password protection (Figure 4.71).

    Figure 4.71

    Figure 4.71 These settings apply to all power plans. To apply them to only a specific plan, use the Advanced Settings dialog box for that plan (refer to Figure 4.70).

    If any settings are unavailable, click Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable, and type an administrator password or confirm the action when prompted.

  4. Click Save Changes.

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