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Disable visual effects in Windows

By , logo. Last updated: 2017-11-09

How to disable some or all visual effects to speed up Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10

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

First, let's review the recommended memory (RAM) configurations for average performance in Microsoft Windows (this is so often overlooked):

  • devices running 64-bit editions of Windows Vista or newer should have at least 8 GB of RAM installed,
  • devices with 32-bit editions of Windows Vista and later should have 4 GB of RAM installed (this is also the maximum usable amount of memory supported in 32-bit/x86 Windows),
  • a Windows XP device should have at least 2 GB of RAM installed.

The quickest way to find out details about Microsoft Windows is to use keyboard shortcut WINDOWS KEY+PAUSE. The latter key might be named PAUSE/BREAK on some keyboards.
Alternatively, right-click or touch and hold (My) Computer or This PC in Start menu/screen or Desktop and select Properties from the menu.

In Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, see what's written in the System section, the Installed memory (RAM) and the System type lines.

In Windows XP, verify the amount of RAM in the Computer section.

Please note that other means, such as using ReadyBoost, setting paging file to a fixed size, defragmenting system drive and troubleshooting performance-related events normally have a more noticeable effect on performance.
However, this does not mean that disabling some eye-candy does not make your device more responsive.

Disabling transparency effects in Windows 10

In Windows 10, the first thing to disable on a slow device is the Transparency Effects for Taskbar, Action Center and Start.
Open the Settings app (keyboard shortcut Windows Key+I) and navigate to Personalization, Colors.

In the original release of Windows 10 and the Anniversary Update, turn off the Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent slider.
In Windows 10 Creators Update (April, 2017), scroll down to the More options section, below the list of available accent colors and turn off the Transparency effects slider.
Windows 10 Original RTM, Settings, Personalization, Colors tab. To make Start menu open faster, scroll down and turn off the 'Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent' slider. Windows 10 Creators Update, Settings, Personalization, Colors tab. To make Start menu open faster, scroll to the 'More options' section and turn off the 'Transparency effects' slider.

Disabling less important visual effects in all versions of Windows

In all versions of Windows, use keyboard shortcut Windows Key+Pause/Break to open System Properties.
You can also right-click or tap and hold My Computer or Computer on Desktop or in Start menu/screen and select Properties.
Windows Vista, Desktop. To open Basic System Information, right-click Computer and select Properties.

In Windows Vista, 7, 8/8.1 and 10, click Advanced System Settings on the left.
Windows Vista, Control Panel. To open System Properties, click 'Advanced system settings'.

In the System Properties window, make sure the Advanced tab is open. Click Settings in the Performance section.
Windows XP, System Properties, Advanced tab. To change Visual Effects settings, click 'Settings' in the 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, 8/8.1 and 10)
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar and Start Menu (Windows 7) or Animations in the taskbar (Windows 8, 8.1 and 10)
  • Enable transparent glass (Windows 7 only)
  • 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, 8.1 and 10)
  • 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 the Performance Options and System Properties windows and for the visual changes to take effect:
Windows 7, Performance Options, Visual Effects tab. Click Custom. Then set visual effects as shown.

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

Disabling all visual 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, 8.1 and 10, this actually has very small effect on how program windows, Windows Store (aka Modern UI or Metro) applications, Start and Desktop look. Fonts might get a bit blurry, but this is fixable with ClearType.

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

This is what different versions of Windows look like while using Classic look.
Windows 8 and newer are not displayed here, as there are no important visual changes.
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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