lync always says I’m yellow

Look – I’m starting to get tired of Microsoft Lync keeping track of my availability and I’m not keen on people judging my presence via a little red, yellow, or green status indicator. The “show your status” feature of Lync 2010 can be beneficial to the average user but is not for me. I’m constantly in and out of Terminal Server sessions and RDP’d into various VDI’s. And for whatever reason, Lync feels the need to tell the world I’m “yellow” or away when I’m actually active. For the sake of this document, I’m going to consider this annoyance a bug.

So the question to be asked is how to I make Microsoft Lync think I’m present or in Green status? Is is configurable via some type of registry setting or group policy template I can add locally. NOPE! Rest assured there is no specific setting within Lync which will allow you to disable the “show your status.” Ultimately if this “feature” is supposed to be part of an overall initiative to make Office products more socially appealing, i’d rather do away with the mouse/keyboard timers.

Now that the ranting is over, lets take control of the situation. Simply fire up your trusty IDE and plop in this C# code which will help remedy the situation. Oh and once complete, you can be Green all day long and not have to worry about others assuming you are not present simply because they see a “yellow” indicator or button next to your name.

private void main()
	while (1) {
		mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_MOVE, 1, 1, 0, 0);

It is honestly that easy. Simply add a constant, compile the code, run and watch your mouse move one pixel every minute. The movement is so subtle you cant even see it. And there is no disturbance or jittery mouse movements as a result of the code.  In the event using .NET is not the preferred route – the same objective can be accomplished with sink events and VBscripts. Have fun with it and make sure you use it honestly.

Update [12/27/2012]:

Due to the ammount of requests for the Prevent Screen Saver application, we have created a SourceForge project for people to access, download, and contribute to. The download link has been updated, click here to access the SourceForge project. This link also hosts the applications download. Screen Saver Stop is free and does not require any special rights to run, it simply just works.

Prevent Screen Saver now supports the following tasks for power desktop users and IT administrators:

  • Prevent VDI’s, Desktops and servers from locking.
  • Prevent screen savers from activating.
  • Prevent Microsoft Lync from displaying a Yellow Status (always stay green).
  • Prevents Active Directory group policy (inactive) settings from being invoked.
  • Easily integrate into Active Directory group policy or run as a stand alone per user basis.

For code update requests please use the comment section below.


As a Virtual Infrastructure “Engineer/Architect” type - I care deeply about implementing proper virtualization solutions and supporting end users. Technology is a challenge, and it's fun to navigate its waters. Writing code to automate things is a priority for me, and something I enjoy doing when I'm not working. -- Feel free to swing by our SourceForge site and check out some of our efforts. Until then - cheers friends!

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38 Responses

  1. M.Simms says:

    I have been looking for a quick solution to disable screen saver settings that get deployed to our VDI’s and Desktops. I find it quite annoying that every 5 minutes of inactivity, the screen saver kicks in and the password protected prompt appears when I need to log back in. As an administrator, i work in and out of servers and desktops all day long. It’s nice to have a quick way to add to my productivity. Thanks for writing this.

  2. S.Lam says:

    This application does a great job at stopping nosy management who sit around watching the Lync status of their employees. By the way – just because communicator is showing we are “yellow”, does not mean that we are away from our desk or not touching our mouse or keyboard. We may be in a different console, a terminal server, a different PC, or heck we may just be using the bathroom! And on the flip side, this may be great for government employees who may “actually” be doing nothing.

  3. ed says:

    Not familiar with IDE or scripts. Can a layperson accomplish this on an XP OS?

  4. T.Mims says:


    No worries on that at all. The app to keep you green is already compiled and available for download at our sourceforge site.

  5. T.Andrews says:

    There are two settings you can toggle locally to control your “away” status. The default value for AwayThreshold and IdleThreshold is ‘5’ so set it to something like 3000 or 5 hours. That will get people wondering!

    These Lync Away settings can also be deployed via group policy via a template to all users or a group of users if/when needed.

    Start > Run > type in ‘regedit’ and click on OK. Then navigate to the following two values and change.

  6. J.Priors says:

    Note: the above registry key will not keep you in green status when the workstation is locked, but the ScreenSaverStop application will.

  7. TPC says:

    Hi. This works great. However. I need to sometimes disable the feature and let Lync timeout and show me as unavailable. I know I can change my status manually, but how do I disable the mouse movement temporarily if needed?


  8. T.Mims says:

    TPC – It’s great to hear you find the utility works great. I’ll go ahead and add a tray icon and option to disable the timer when needed. That way there the application can stay running and there is no need to close it. I’ll go ahead and update it and notify the group here when the update is ready and ready to be downloaded via SourceForge.

    Thanks for the feedback. It’s this type of response that makes these simple apps more and more powerful.

  9. tt says:

    Is that a way to uninstall this application if I want to go back to normal? Thanks!

  10. T.Mims says:

    TT – Absolutely, there is no install. It’s just an .exe that you can run. Open up task manager and end the process to make the utility stop working.

  11. harryh says:

    Nice little app – simple and effective; Like many, having the traffic-light availability indicators for others to observe is a complete pain… especially when I nip out and grab a coffee!

    Thank you.

  12. Collin says:

    Hi is there any way to get the source code for this? I might just be missing it but I don’t see it on sourceforge. Thanks!

  13. B.Shankohf says:

    This application is great and is fully compatible with Office 2013 (Lync). The brilliant part for me is the concept is so elementary. If you move the mouse one pixel every minute, it literally tricks Lync into thinking you are present and aimlessly moving your mouse around.

    Here is the interesting part… What gets me is that Microsoft Lync thinks that I’m active by moving my mouse around and/or perhaps leveraging the keyboard. But the question I have is what if I’m reading a document on the internet and not using my keyboard or mouse. Lets say I have a 23″ retina display and can view 10 pages at once… Is my management going to think that I’m not at my desk as I read through the material? Or am I supposed to randomly move my mouse so they can see that I’m “Green” and not yellow or away?

    As far as I’m concerned, this is a horrible idea. Lync is not a social application, and this is not Facebook. And My management needs to worry about complacency rather than if I’m doing my job or not. Thanks for writing this application as it only addresses a broader issue. And that’s middle management.

  14. Justin Terested says:

    I was wondering if anyone knows if any companies have formal or informal policies requiring Lync status monitoring to determine if someone is working their required hours. Does a company need to inform employees, as they do for email or phone calls being monitored? Has anyone been terminated using this as a cause? Are there any court rulings in regard to this?

  15. T.Mims says:

    Justin – you bring up a great point. Perhaps the storyline goes like this…. As an employee, you have no rights on the systems that you use for work. And all activity is subject to monitoring.

    I honestly do not like the green/yellow/red light features in Lync. I honestly would not mind if it worked all the time. But seeing that I jump in and out of server sessions quite frequently. My company considers me “not working”.

  16. J Adams says:

    For the benefit of your readers, here’s the surrounding code (including the extern reference) that would accompany what you had in the article itself.

    public class Class1
    [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport(“user32.dll”, CharSet = System.Runtime.InteropServices.CharSet.Auto, CallingConvention = System.Runtime.InteropServices.CallingConvention.StdCall)]
    public static extern void mouse_event(uint dwFlags, uint dx, uint dy, uint dwData, uint dwExtraInfo);

    private const uint MOUSEEVENTF_MOVE = 0x0001;

    private static void Main()
    while (true)
    mouse_event(MOUSEEVENTF_MOVE, 1, 1, 0, 0);

  17. T.Mims says:

    Cheers for the notes J.Adams!

  18. avid says:

    I’m with Ed. I’m not an IT person. If I download the app on your sourceforge page, is it something I can leave on the desktop and will be easy to turn on and off at will? I think my boss will get suspicious if I’m “green” all the time (especially since I work in a different time zone than she does). Also, if I keep the app on and I have a meeting which would normally turn lync red will it go to red automatically, or just stay green?

    Thanks so much for this! I’ve been searching for something to keep lync green when I need to duck out for a bit.

  19. avid says:

    I tried downloading the app on my work computer. My work blocks that website. I went into Lync and changed the settings for how long to let it be idle before it shows offline, and it allowed the changes, but the computer itself goes to screensaver after 10 min, so Lync shows offline anyway. How can I increase the amount of time it takes for the computer to go to screensaver?

  20. T.Mims says:

    Avid – It sounds like group policy is settings the screen saver to appear after 10 minutes of inactivity. You are blocked from accessing the file from SourceForge?

    If you have been able too successfully download PSS and its running as planned. Just remember to close the process before you leave for the day, or decide to take a break and want Lync to jump to yellow.

  21. Alex says:

    It didn’t work for me. I’m in a corporate network and my options in changing Lync’s settings are limited. Nonetheless, i downloaded and ran the application, but to no avail. Tested and it still puts me in away status once i lock my computer.
    Also, if you added a system tray icon, it’s not showing for me.
    Any ideas?

  22. T.Mims says:

    Alex, download and load up the code from our SourceForge site. The application will take care of the mouse movement [1px every min] and bypass the red/yellow/green light feature. We have many people using the app [pss] without issue.

    On standby in the event you have any additional questions.

  23. Tina says:

    Had it installed and working like a gem, then some windows updates downloaded, and now even when it’s running, my computer still locks and then goes into standby mode. What happened?

  24. T.Mims says:

    Tina – Just double click on the .exe again to launch it and you should be good to go. Note – you will have to do the same thing every time your computer is rebooted.

  25. Tina says:

    Double-clicking on it again does not work. I used to double-click it every re-boot before the Windows update and that worked fine. Post-windows update, it is running, but not working. Any suggestions?

  26. Tom says:

    Great simple tool, thanks for putting it together. There are actually a couple Pay programs that function identically.

    Just a couple of notes on the last couple of people with issues.

    Alex: I believe that locking the computer will still move you to away. Lync detects the locking and puts it as away. It’s a separate thing. This program is to prevent the computer from automatically locking or going to screensaver. Also some of use that remote into other machines can have Lync not realize we are active, which I also believe is a bug.

    The tray icon hasn’t been added yet, he said he would let us know when it’s been updated. The file in the zip is still from DEC 2012

    A useful tip is to hide the exe somewhere on your computer. Then make a shortcut to it in your startup folder under All Programs in the windows menu. This will cause the program to launch automatically after a reboot. Also if your IT guy is on your computer he won’t see it sitting on the desktop or whatever. Even if it’s not a big deal, sometimes it’s easier to avoid the conversation and get added to their “troublemaker” blacklist haha. 20 years in IT, trust me they have a blacklist!

  27. T.Mims says:

    Tom, thanks so much for the note. I’m on the hook for adding a tray icon. I’m going to jump on it!

  28. MrT says:

    Great idea, now can someone figure out a way of auto replying to IM’s 🙂

  29. adq says:

    Here’s a much easier, low tech solution that can’t possibly get you in trouble at work because you’re not actually doing anything to the computer: Take an optical mouse and put it on aluminum foil. The foil will cause light to constantly reflect, thus constantly simulating the mouse!

  30. T.Mims says:

    That’s brilliant! I’ve tried to wrap my whole computer in aluminum foil before, it was awesome but it overheated quickly. I’m going to give this a try.

  31. Tara says:

    Will this work on laptop?

  32. T.Mims says:

    @Tara – absolutely. You should not have any issues running from your laptop 🙂

  33. Kevin Dondrea says:

    I’m not sure if this is a problem of Windows 8, UAC or some other issue but this and your screensaver stopper are not working on my computer. I found another code someone posted without documentation. Their solution is similar to your solution but their 2 buttons may be slightly different than your solution. The reason I mention someone else’s is because there’s seemed to work worked if I clicked on it no matter if it was checked or not (checked is correct) but to have it start off checked it does not work. So I’m wondering if your solution is the same way. Your program is a little confusing. Is Automatic meaning the screensaver will start automatically or is that meaning it will prevent it automatically? Or maybe do I have to run it as administrator to get it to work right?

  34. Nicholas says:

    Any plans to make something similar to prevent the Lync mobile application from going inactive?

  35. T.Mims says:

    Hi Kevin! UAC for Windows 8 and Windows 10 may be invoked depending on how group policy (or build) is configured. We are actually planning on releasing the next version here in a few days that will be compatible with Lync 2013/Skype for business. The launch will be a tad bit more easy, and will present users with a small configurable GUI where preferences can be saved for any subsequent launches.

  36. Paul says:

    it is true that ScreenSaverStop will keep you in green status when the workstation is locked?

  37. Brian says:

    Hi there, Isnt there an option in Lync to set the timer for how long before it ticks over to ‘inactive’ or ‘away’? So if you set both of these parameters to 1000 minutes, this will effectively have you as green (available) until 1000 minutes has expired?

    The setting is under Options gear icon-Tools-Optus-Status.

    Am I correct here?

  38. T.Mims says:

    Perhaps, but thats not really the point of the application. As we jump in and out of servers or walk away for a few minutes, there is a good chance group policy will lock the workstation.

    For me thats terribly annoying, and then when you layer in the fact people are watching my green/yellow/red status its even worse. I’m actually doing my job, and when I go “yellow” that does not necessarily mean I’m slacking.

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