Confessions of a Windows Enthusiast

Where I rant about Microsoft products, computers and technology, and much more.

Windows Vista Aurora Screensaver Hidden Settings

For those of you who are using Windows Vista, you may have noticed that the screen savers that are included do not contain any settings. Actually, they do, but Microsoft didn't include options dialogs for them.

Long Zheng posted the settings for the Bubbles, Mystify, and Ribbons screensavers back in September before Windows Vista officially shipped. But he didn't post the settings for Aurora.

Through a little bit of digging and guess work, I've uncovered one registry key that actually works for customizing the Aurora screensaver. Let's get started, shall we?

DISCLAIMER: This involves modifying the Windows registry. It is recommended that you make a back up before performing any of the steps outlined below. Kristan M. Kenney and can not be held responsible for any instabilities or damages that may be caused by editing the registry. Mis-use of this trick may cause your system to become unstable. Please proceed with caution.

  • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type "regedit" (with or without the quotes).
  • If User Account Control prompts you for consent, click on Continue or provide the proper credentials.
  • In the Registry Editor window in the left hand pane navigate to "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Screensavers\Aurora"
  • In the right hand pane, right click on an empty spot and click "New > DWORD (32-bit) Value".
  • Give the new DWORD value a name of "NumLayers" (without the quotes).
  • Double click on the "NumLayers" DWORD value and next to "Base" on the right hand side select "Decimal".
  • Give the DWORD value a numerical value of your choice.
  • Repeat these steps for the "Amplitude" and "Speed" REG_DWORD values outlined below if you wish, and when setting the value type choose "Decimal" under the "Base" settings in the value dialog.
  • Right click on the Desktop and click on Personalize.
  • In the Personalization Control Panel window click on "Screen Saver".
  • In the Screen Saver Settings window, under "Screen saver" select the "Aurora" screen saver and click the OK button, or click Preview to view your changes.

Other settings and explainations:

NumLayers is a REG_DWORD value (Decimal) that can be set to any number that you desire between 1 and 15. For a darker aurora effect I'd recommend using 2 or 3. For a strong aurora effect, choose 10 or 12. Do not set this value past 15.

Amplitude is a REG_DWORD value (Decimal) that can be set to any number between 500000000 and 2000000000. The lower the value, the slower the screen saver is. This setting also seems to affect the amount of brightness in certain areas of the aurora effect. I'd recommend a value of 1073909999.

Speed is a REG_DWORD value (Decimal) that can be set to any number between 1000000000 and 2000000000. For a slow aurora effect, I'd recommend using 1000000000.

If you would like to return the screen saver to its default settings, simply delete any of the REG_DWORD values that you created from above in the Registry Editor.

I have created a preset that I am personally using now. If you would like to use it, simply click here to download the ZIP file. Open it using a file extractor of your choice and then merge the .REG file. Then navigate to the Screen Saver selection dialog and select Aurora as your active screen saver.

Download: Northern Lights Aurora Preset (.ZIP file)



  • Mark said:

    Isn't this working around a technical limitation?  If so you better have your lawers ready!

    June 4, 2007 6:08 AM
  • Tomer Chachamu said:

    No screenshots then?

    June 5, 2007 2:40 AM

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