Optimizing Aero for Maximum Performance and Appearance

Windows Vista and Windows 7 come with a pretty great looking theme called Aero. This is responsible for the rounded windows, drop shadows, and transparent glass that has become the standard look for these two versions.

But having all these pretty things to look at comes at a price. Each visual effect and style you apply requires more processing power from your computer.

By default, windows will automatically try to optimize what is best for your system. If your computer is running slow, however, or if you just want to squeeze out maximum performance, then you should consider customizing Aero yourself.

In this article you will learn how to optimize the Aero theme for maximum performance while also retaining maximum visual appeal.

Optimizing Aero for Performance

  1. Click the Start button
  2. Right click “Computer” and select “Properties”
  3. Select “Advanced System Settings”
  4. Make sure you are on the “Advanced” tab
  5. Under “Performance,” click the “Settings” button
  6. Select “Adjust for Best Performance” to uncheck all options
  7. Check “Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts” (this is one you won’t want to be without)

To see what Windows looks like with none of Aero’s features, click “Apply” now. This will give you a good starting point from which you can add on the visual enhancements.

If you don’t mind this look (it’s similar to Windows 2000) and want to get as much performance as possible, you can leave these settings as they are and click “OK” to close the window.

But most people will want to retain some of the Aero look. Here are two tiers of options I would recommend setting.

Balancing Performance and Appearance

For a more modern Windows look, without sacrificing too much performance, check these two options:

  • Use visual styles on windows and buttons
  • Enable desktop composition

For an “almost-complete” Aero look, select these two additional options:

  • Enable transparent glass
  • Use drop shadows for icon labels

At this point, you should have 5 options turned on. This, in my opinion, will give you the best balance of performance and looks.

Don’t forget you can go through the list on your own to select other things you might want. Simply turn an option on and click “Apply” to see it in action.

Making these change will free up a lot of memory and processing power than can be used by other programs. But this additional power comes at the price of visual appeal.

It’s up to you to determine how much visual appeal you want to give up in order to reclaim more speed.

Video Tutorial for Optimizing Aero