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Disable visual effects in Windows

How to disable some or all visual effects to speed up Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1

By . Last modified: 2013-09-12.

If you do not have a fast computer or graphics/display adapter, you can disable some or all visual effects in Windows to make your computer more responsive.

Use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Pause/Break to open System Properties.
You can also right-click My Computer or Computer on Desktop or in Start menu and select Properties.
Windows Vista, Desktop. To open Basic System Information, right-click Computer and select Properties.

In Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1, click Advanced System Settings on the left.
Windows Vista, Control Panel. To open System Properties, click Advanced system settings.

User Account Control will open. Click Continue or Yes.
Windows Vista, User Account Control for Advanced System Settings. Click Continue.

In System Properties window, make sure Advanced tab is open. Click Settings button in Performance section:
Windows XP, System Properties, Advanced tab. To change Visual Effects settings, click Settings button in Performance section.

In Visual Effects tab of Performance Options window, click Custom. Then deselect the following items to disable some unnecessary eye candy:

  • Animate controls and elements inside windows (only in Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1)
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar and Start Menu (Windows 7) or Animations in the taskbar (Windows 8 and 8.1)
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Save taskbar thumbnail previews (Windows 7, 8 and 8.1)
  • Show window contents while dragging
  • Slide open combo boxes
  • Slide taskbar buttons (only in Windows XP and Vista)
  • Smooth-scroll list boxes

Then click OK twice to close Performance Options and System Properties and for changes to take effect:
Windows 7, Performance Options, Visual Effects tab. Click Custom. Then deselect Animate controls and elements inside windows, Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing, Animations in the taskbar and Start Menu, Fade or slide menus into view, Fade or slide ToolTips into view, Fade out menu items after clicking, Show window contents while dragging, Slide open combo boxes and Smooth-scroll list boxes.

You now have some processor-intensive animations and effect disabled while still having a modern Windows look retained.

Disabling all effects and using Windows Classic mode for best performance

If you have a really slow computer, you can try Windows Classic mode that looks a lot like Windows 2000 or Windows Me. This disables Windows themes, all visual effects and font smoothing. You will still have a modern Windows Start menu in Windows XP, Vista and 7, but it looks... umm... old. Wink
In Windows 8 and 8.1, this actually has very small effect on how program windows, Metro applications, Start screen and Desktop look - it is still almost the same (fonts might get a bit blurry), but without eye candy.

To enable the classic look and bump performance up, select Adjust for best performance in Performance Options window, Visual Effects tab.
Windows XP, Performance Options, Visual Effects tab. To disable all visual effects and use Classic mode, click Adjust for best performance. Then click OK.

This is what different versions of Windows look like while using Classic look.
Windows 8 and 8.1 are not displayed here, as there are no really important changes compared to Windows 7 other than the missing Start menu.
Windows XP:
Windows XP, all visual effects and themes disabled.

Windows Vista:
Windows Vista, all visual effects and themes disabled.

Windows 7:
Windows 7, all visual effects and themes disabled.

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