To access the Power Options screen click on Start button, Control Panel, System and Maintenance and Power Options; or, right-click on the power icon in the system tray (lower right) and click Power Options (left-clicking the icon will bring up a quick menu with a set of radio buttons and mouse-over help messages).
A quick look at the Power Options screen will show you three power plans:
- Balanced – equal battery life and performance
- Power Saver – high battery life, lower performance
- High Performance – higher performance, shorter battery life
The plan you choose depends on how you use the laptop - or more importantly, how you use the laptop’s battery:
- If you always plug your laptop into a power source, select High Performance – your computer will run better and you can still set change the sleep mode to start sooner than 1 hour (its default).
- If you are always on the road and use your battery extensively, try the Power Saver mode. You may notice some feature reduction, but it will extend your battery life.
- If you use the laptop equally use a battery and a power source, try the Balanced mode.
In each of these plans (within the Change power settings screen), there is a “Change advanced power settings” link. This function allows users to further customize power options with a particular plan. If you get confused by this, disregard this area. Choosing one of the three plans will be enough for most users. Also, see the following section.
Other Power Settings
The following settings, once activated, will work with the power plan you select.
- Require a password (on wakeup) – if enable: great, if you need more security; annoying if you don’t. Also, it will not activate a password, if your account does not use one (but it will show the Windows logon screen with your User ID when you wake up the computer from Sleep mode, as opposed to going directly to the desktop).
- Don’t require a password (on wakeup) – if your account has a password associated with it, you can use this setting to disable it for Sleep mode. Using this mode will allow the computer to go directly to the desktop after wake up from sleep mode.
- Choose what the power button does – the options are Do Nothing, Sleep and Shutdown. You can select different settings for Battery and Plugged In status.
- Choose what closing the lid does – the options are Do Nothing, Sleep and Shutdown. You can select different settings for Battery and Plugged In status.
- Choose when to turn off the display – you can choose any time from 1 minute and longer. You can select different settings for Battery and Plugged In as well.
- Change when the computer sleeps – you can choose any time from 1 minute and longer. You can select different settings for Battery and Plugged In as well.
- Adjust the display brightness - You can select different settings for Battery and Plugged In as well.
Also, you can create a new power plan with all customized settings. I recommend you use one of the three originals and alter one to fit your needs.
To see a step by step tutorial of changing power settings, read "Setting the Power Options For a Vista Laptop PC."