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Windows 7 power options

written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/19/2010

Control how Windows 7 manages power by configuring Windows 7 power options. No matter how conservative, green or power hungry your system is, Windows 7 has power management options perfect for you.

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    Accessing

    The Windows 7 power options are perfect for those looking to go green in their daily lives. Windows 7 power management options are enabled by default. However, you can change the power options anytime you like by accessing the Windows 7 Power Options control panel.

    Press the Windows 7 Start globe and select Control Panel. If you do not see Power Options, press All Control Panel Items on the right side of the control panel window. Select Power Options to open the Windows 7 Power Options control panel. All power management settings are available from this single control panel.

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    Power Management Plans

    Two power management plans are available when you first access the Windows 7 power options. The first is Balanced, which is enabled by default. The second is Power Saver. A third power option also exists when you press Show Additional Plans. The third Windows 7 power option is High Performance.

    The Balanced plan turns the display or monitor off after 10 minutes of inactivity. After 30 minutes of inactivity, your computer is placed in sleep mode.

    The Power Saver plan is slightly more aggressive. The monitor is turned off after only 5 minutes of inactivity, while your computer enters sleep mode after only 15 minutes of inactivity.

    If you do not want your computer to go into sleep mode, High Performance may be the perfect of the Windows 7 power options plans for you. The display is turned off after 15 minutes, but your system never enters sleep mode.

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    Custom Settings

    There are two ways to customize Windows 7 power options beyond the available power management plans. Either customize an existing power management plan or create your own custom plan. To help save power, Windows 7 offers three types of sleep modes for your computer.

    Edit any existing Windows 7 power management plan by pressing Change Plan Settings beside the plan of your choice. A power options window appears with power settings for most of the hardware on your computer, such as hard drive, wireless adapter and USB. There are also settings for adding a password to wake your system up after your power management plan goes into effect.

    If you want to change any power options that are not listed in a specific plan, press the Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable. If you want to return a power management plan to its original settings, press the Restore Plan Defaults button.

    The second way to customize Windows 7 power options is to create your own plan. Press the Create a Power Plan link on the left side of the Windows 7 Power Options control panel. Select a name for your power plan. The same power options window appears as when you edit existing plans.

    If you use multiple power management plans, name your plans based on situation or location. For instance, if you want to use your Windows 7 laptop on the go, a more aggressive power plan works best to save battery life. You could name this plan “Travel” or “On the Go.” At home, you may not want your screen to turn off until an hour of inactivity has passed. This plan may be called “Home.”

    If you're uncertain of what options you should choose, get a power usage report from your Windows 7 computer to determine how much power your currently use. This will help you determine which options to choose to reduce your power consumption.