Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 23, 2006
a public service announcement
Category: Linkage

Laptop users, have you ever wanted to turn off your monitor without closing the lid? I don't mean setting the timer in the power options properties -- I mean simply turning the thing off via a keyboard shortcut or, at the very least, a system tray icon. I have been wanting to do this ever since I got the machine (back in the old days, I simply would have pressed the monitor button), and now and again I have gone on little searches of the web to see if I can find a utility that will let me do just that. Until tonight, all of those searches were failures. I have no idea why these programs are so hard to find -- you'd think that a whole heap of people would want to do this! So many, in fact, that you'd expect Windows to have a default shortcut key for just that function. If there is, I have not found it yet.

What I found tonight, however, is a utility that will finally let me do what I've been wanting to do for ages. Granted, my search probably would've gone a little better if I'd been willing to pay for this functionality, as there are several programs (Softany Monitor Control came up most frequently during my searches) that will give you the ability to manually turn off your monitor for a fee ($16.95 for the Softany program). Alas, I hate paying for computer programs -- especially when they're for things that I should already be able to do for free! So I've been searching and searching and searching.

In the end -- at last -- I found three programs that are up to the task, though only one (at least thus far) is my preferred program of choice.

First, there's Tooler 1.00. This one would have been effective, except when I turned the monitor back on by moving the mouse or pressing a key, there would be this weird little window active in the upper left-hand corner that sometimes needed to be closed manually. Otherwise this tiny tool would have been perfect, but I decided to do a bit more searching first. Had I not found another program, however, I would've gone with this.

Then, thanks to a forum post in a thread, I stumbled onto NirCmd, a command-line tool that, among many other things, will let users create a shortcut to turn off the freaking monitor, which is all I really wanted to do. Admittedly, you'd have to know a little bit about creating shortcuts and using said tools (which takes us back to the good ol' DOS days) before using this program -- which could be a bit daunting for some -- but that wasn't my main problem. No, my problem was that while the monitor turned off just fine, I had absolute HELL getting it to come back on. When I tried, it did this weird flickery thing and get dim and then my computer started beeping and I'm not sure what the hell happened, but once my screen came back I promptly deleted that program, rebooted the computer, and ran a registry scan (since it modifies registry values -- I wonder if something conflicted with my custom settings?) to remove any lingering issues. NirCmd may work better for you, though, so feel free to give it a try.

Ultimately, however, I opted to go with ShutdownTray, which (thus far, anyway) does exactly what I need it to do with no freakish or annoying side effects. It sits in my systray and can be activated with a simple right click, and it allowed me to set up a keyboard shortcut with the greatest of ease. Now, by pressing Ctrl+Alt+M (for monitor!), I can turn off the screen and give it a rest while I do other things. I will say, however, that after I first used it the screen turned back on for no reason several minutes later. Subsequent tries have not yielded the same effect, so I suspect that I inadvertently jostled the desk, thereby causing the mouse to move and wake up the screen. Apparently some of the paid programs have settings that automatically decrease mouse sensitivity when the screen is off -- which would be ideal, as then it would take a deliberate effort to bring the picture back -- but we'll see how I do with this free tool first. Seems to be effective so far!

Hopefully now someone using the Google to find a good, free program that turns off the monitor will end up here at some point and give ShutdownTray a try. And hopefully this post has been of use to some of my readers. Or at least I hope it has been interesting! I dunno. Anyway, ja ne. 🙂

-posted by Wes | 1:14 am | Comments (5)
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