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Windows 7 Aero Enable - Themes, Requirements, and Features

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/20/2011

Windows 7 Aero themes not working could be due to a couple of common problems. Chances are, you will be able to fix the Windows 7 Aero themes display by adjusting a couple of minor settings. However, the Windows 7 Aero feature does require some specifics to run correctly, which we will also cover.

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    Windows 7 Aero Requirements

    Windows 7 Aero If the problem is Windows 7 Aero themes not working, your computer may not meet the minimum requirements to run Windows 7 Aero. According to Microsoft, here are the absolute bottom requirements to run Windows 7 Aero:

    • 1-gigahertz (GHz) 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
    • 1 gigabyte (GB) of random access memory (RAM)
    • 128-megabyte (MB) graphics card

    Aero also requires a DirectX 9 class graphics processor that supports a Windows Display Driver Model Driver, Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware, and 32 bits per pixel.

    For best results, you might also want to follow these graphics processor recommendations:

    • 64 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor with a resolution that is less than 1,310,720 pixels (for example, a 17–inch flat panel LCD monitor that has a 1280 × 1024 resolution)
    • 128 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor with a resolution from 1,310,720 to 2,304,000 pixels (for example, a 21.1–inch flat panel LCD monitor that has up to a 1600 × 1200 resolution), that
    • 256 MB of graphics memory to support a single monitor with a resolution greater than 2,304,000 pixels (for example, a 30–inch wide-screen flat panel LCD monitor that has up to a 2560 × 1600 resolution)

    Now, that is quite a bit of specifics they give you. For the most part, you need a computer with a decent processor (more than 1GHz clock speed), at least 1GB of RAM memory, and a graphics card with at least 64 MB of memory, depending on the monitor you are using.

    You can check the specs of your PC by navigating the path Start > right click Computer > Properties. If your PC meets all of the requirements, then proceed on for further troubleshooting. If your PC does not meet all of the requirements, there is a good chance that Windows 7 Aero themes not working is due to your computer not having the capability to run Aero. You may need to upgrade the video card, RAM, or possibly the CPU in order to use the Windows 7 Aero feature.

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    Run Windows 7 Experience Index

    Windows 7 Experience Index To start, try running a Windows Experience Index rating. This will automatically rate the different hardware components of your PC, and will often times enable Windows 7 Aero if your PC's hardware supports it. To run Windows Experience Index, navigate the path Start > right click Computer > Properties. From there, click the Windows Experience Index link and Run the assessment. If you have previously used Windows Experience Index, and have installed new hardware, such as a new video card, be sure to click Re-run the assessment.

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    Do a Windows Update

    Windows Update Microsoft releases and distributes several different bug fixes, driver updates, and more through Windows Update. Although it's best to always keep your computer updated using Windows Update, a Windows Update may be needed specifically to run Windows 7 Aero. There may be a new compatibility fix for your computer's graphics card, that could fix any Windows 7 Aero themes not working errors. To do a Windows Update, navigate the path Start > Control Panel > Windows Update. After Windows finishes updating, try enabling Aero again.

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    Monitor Settings and Windows Settings

    Adjusting your PC's monitor settings is a good way to troubleshoot any additional Windows 7 Aero problems. Microsoft recommends that you make sure that the color is set to 32 bit, the monitor refresh rate is higher than 10 hertz (Hz), the theme is set to Windows Vista, the color scheme is set to Windows Aero, and window frame transparency is on.

    If you are not sure how to set 32 bit, adjust the monitor refresh rate, etc., check out the official Microsoft troubleshooting guide. It should help you with several other Windows Aero troubleshooting problems as well.

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    Update Graphics Card Driver

    Some older graphics cards may require a driver update in order to mesh well with Windows 7 Aero. If you are using a manufacturer built computer such as a Dell, HP, or Gateway, you should visit the official website for the particular manufacturer, and search for the drivers under support.

    If you are using a custom build computer, or computer you built yourself, you may need to visit your motherboard manufacturer's website. There, you should be able to locate specific drivers for your model motherboard.

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    You Are Using the Wrong Version of Windows 7

    Last but not least, you could be using a version of Windows 7 that does not offer Aero. The two versions of Windows 7 that will not work with Windows 7 Aero are Windows 7 Starter and Windows 7 Home Basic.Although these two operating systems are not widely distributed, they are common on early Windows PCs and mini netbooks.