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Automatically Switch Users in Windows XP Just By Closing Your Laptop’s Lid

I have a Windows XP Service Pack 3 laptop and I am usually the only person who uses this laptop, but there are times when friends and family want to use my computer. I am a power user and I run as an administrator, but I do not want anyone else to have total, unfettered access to my computer, so I created a limited user account for everyone else who wants to use my computer. Windows has a nice feature that enables you to switch between different user accounts (go to Control Panel, User Accounts, Change the way users log on or off, check Use the Welcome screen and Use Fast User Switching) while keeping all the programs and processes from each user open and running in the background.

The problem is that there are times when I forget to switch users when I leave my computer or I might get quickly pulled away from my computer for some reason at times. I usually just end up closing the lid of my laptop, leaving my computer unprotected and open for anyone to use.

In the Windows Advanced Power Options, there is a menu setting where you can set what your laptop does when you close the lid, but the only options are “Do Nothing,” “Stand By” and “Hibernate” (this last option only appears if you have previously enabled hibernation mode). I don’t like any of these options. “Do Nothing” does not help me at all since anyone can just open my laptop back up and start cruising around with full admin privileges. “Stand By” mode in general is no good, because there are many times, when I have set my laptop to Stand By with a bunch of programs open and the computer wouldn’t wake back up again, so I would have to turn the computer off and turn it back on again, thus losing all my unsaved progress in the process. I also turn off Hibernation mode, since I don’t like reserving at least a gigabyte of memory for this process, considering I’m usually running out of disk space on my computer as it is.

I Googled my way all over the internet looking for solutions, I checked a whole bunch of tech sites, then tried Lifehacker, Microsoft and I even contacted Dell tech support to see if they had any solutions, but I found nothing.

I then decided to post my problem on a few tech forums. Exactly 5 minutes after posting on the Hak5 forum, my question was answered! It turns out that motionman95 (email: motionman95 [at] yahoo.com) recently wrote a program to solve this. The original stable program is MonitorState (download it here), but the beta version 1.2, (which is supposed to fix some bugs and glitches) has been renamed to StandbyLock (download it here). *Update 1-5-2008 – There is a new stable version, StandbyLock2.0 (download it here).*

*Update 1-6-2008 – StandbyLock v2.0 (download it here 1-8-2008 – updated download link) is now out of beta and available.* While this program is running, if you set the laptop’s advanced power options to “Stand By” when the lid is closed, the program bypasses Stand By mode altogether and just switches off users and when you open the lid up again, you’re greeted with the Windows XP Welcome Screen and you can pick which user you want to run as.

I did not have any problems with MonitorState and I have not had any problems with StandbyLock either, but I have noticed from the Task Manager that StandbyLock seems to use more and more memory the longer it is left running, which is very similar to the problems Firefox 2 had with memory leaks. At this point, I will continue to use MonitorState, but I am waiting for the release of a stable version 2 of StandbyLock that doesn’t cause a performance hit to my machine the longer the program runs in the background. Let me know in the comments which version works best for you if you decide to try both. When I get new versions, I will keep you updated. *Update 1-5-2008 – start using StableLock2.0 (download it here) *Update 1-6-2008 – StandbyLock v2.0 (download it here) has now gone gold (now with some nice taskbar menu features and an F2 hotkey to enable/disable the program) and I have switched over to this version,* it is a smaller program, it has a MUCH smaller memory footprint and the memory leak problems have been solved.

After thanking motionman95 for sharing his software creations, I found out that he also has some other programs that he has written and is in the process of creating a website of his own to showcase all these applications. I can not wait to see what other goodies motionman95 has created!

Enjoy

Dany

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January 4, 2009 11:41 pm - Posted by | software, technology, Windows

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