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21 Ways to Speed Up Vista: Part 3 - Optimize Vista's Visual Effects

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 4/24/2009

Adjusting the settings of Vista's visual effects will help boost performance and speed up your system. This step-by-step Windows Vista tutorial shows you how...

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    Tip #6 Optimize Vista's Visual Effects

    Windows Vista demands significantly greater system resources, which derive largely from its new, advanced, high-resolution graphics. Vista comes loaded with lots of eye candy in the form of visual effects that make for a very attractive interface. However, these features can be a huge drain on system resources.

    Adjusting visual effects to boost performance generally calls for a sacrifice of speed for style. If you have a powerful computer, this trade off may not be necessary, but for older PCs, this can significantly improve system performance. Read on to learn how...

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    1. Right-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop. Choose Properties from the drop-down menu.
    2. Locate the Advanced System Settings link in left-hand pane and click on it. This will open the System Properties dialogue box.
    3. Click on the Settings button in the Performance section, and then click on the Visual Effects tab.
    4. Click on your preferences and then click the OK button.

    Window MyComp-Properties-Advanced 2 

    Window MyComp-Properties-Advanced-Settings 2 

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    You will now be presented with four options for optimizing the appearance and performance on your system. Basically, you can let Windows determine which visual effects to switch off, or you may choose these individually:

    Let Windows choose what's best for my computer

    • Let Windows select the optimal settings for your computer, for both appearance and performance.

    Adjust for best appearance

    • Optimizes the visual effects and graphic interface, although it will affect performance.

    Adjust for best performance

    • Provides the most significant performance gains, although you will partially lose the benefits of Vista's snazzy interface.


    • Allows you to customize the settings for both appearance and performance by making individual selections.

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    The Perfomance Options Window
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    Tip #7: Disable Individual Visual Effects

    You can make individual selections to suit your personal preferences by selecting Custom in the Performance Options dialog window. To turn off the options that you do not need, simply un-check each one in the visual effects menu. There are twenty visual effects that Vista lets you control. A few of them are listed below:

    • Show thumbnails instead of icons
      • Option to show thumbnails in Explorer
    • Show window contents while dragging
      • Option to show content when you click and drag items
    • Enable desktop composition
      • Option to use the Windows Aero theme
    • Enable transparent glass
      • Option to use transparency in Windows
    • Show preview and filters in folder
      • Option to use the Details Pane in Explorer
    • Smooth edges of screen fonts
      • Option to show smooth fonts
    • Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop
      • Option to show shadows under desktop icon labels
    • Use visual styles on windows and buttons
      • Option to use Windows Aero or Basic theme

    Note: By turning off certain visual effects, you will also disable Aero Glass effects

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    Tip #8 Disable Vista's Min-max Animations

    Some people love Vista's animation for minimizing and maximizing windows. However, it does take up system resources and it can get a bit irritating. You can disable this function by following the steps below:

    1. Right click on Computer and then select Properties.
    2. Click on Advanced System Settings. This opens the UAC prompt opens. Click on Continue.
    3. Click on the Settings under the Performance section
    4. Select the Visual Effects tab.
    5. Uncheck the check-box labeled: Animate Windows when Minimizing and Maximizing
    6. Click OK. And you are done!