Free Trial

Safari Books Online is a digital library providing on-demand subscription access to thousands of learning resources.

  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 4. Personalizing Windows Vista > Optimizing Visual Effects

Optimizing Visual Effects

In the previous exercise, you set the desktop theme, which selected the Windows Vista background, sounds, icons, buttons, windows shape, and so on. These options provide a pleasant user interface and are available on any computer running Windows Vista. However, the pinnacle of the Windows Vista visual experience is Windows Aero, which is identified within Windows Vista as a color scheme, but is so much more than simply colors. It is truly a thing of beauty, incorporating soft edges, shadows, transparent window frames, animated window transitions, active previews of hidden windows from the taskbar, and a three-dimensional rotating stack display. In short, all the bells and whistles! Unfortunately, Windows Aero works only on systems that have the necessary hardware configuration, which includes:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor

  • 1 GB of RAM

  • 128 MB graphics adapter

  • DirectX 9-class graphics processor that supports a Windows Display Driver Model Driver, Pixel Shader 2.0, and 32 bits per pixel

If you purchased your computer before 2006, it is unlikely that it meets these requirements (unless your computer is set up for gaming or professional graphics production). You might be able to upgrade your system by purchasing more RAM and a new graphics card. If your hardware does meet the minimum requirements, you will have the pleasure of the Windows Aero experience when running these Windows Vista editions:

  • Windows Vista Home Premium

  • Windows Vista Ultimate

  • Windows Vista Business

  • Windows Vista Enterprise


Don’t know which edition of Windows Vista is installed on your computer? Click System And Maintenance in Control Panel, and then click Welcome Center. The edition is reported at the top of the Welcome Center window.

If you purchased a Windows Aero-qualified computer system with Windows Vista already installed, Windows Aero was probably turned on when you first started the computer. If you upgraded your hardware or upgraded to Windows Vista from a previous version of Windows, you might need to make some adjustments.

In this exercise, you will check your hardware configuration to see whether it meets Windows Aero requirements, set the monitor colors and refresh rate to the levels necessary to support Windows Aero, and then configure the Windows Aero color scheme, including window frame transparency. There are no practice files for this exercise.


The screens shown in other exercises in this book are captured with Windows Aero and font smoothing turned off, because those features do not present as clearly on the printed page.

OPEN Control Panel.

In Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, and then click System.

The System window opens.

Your processor speed and installed RAM are shown under System. You need a processor speed of at least 1.0 GHz, and at least 1 GB (1024 MB) of RAM to display Windows Aero features.

In the Address bar, click the arrow to the right of Control Panel, and then in the list, click Appearance and Personalization.

In the Appearance and Personalization window, click Personalization.

The Personalization window opens. From this window, you can customize any aspect of the Windows Vista user interface.


You can display the Personalization window by right-clicking the desktop and then clicking Personalize.

In the Personalization window, click Display Settings. Then in the Display Settings dialog box, click Advanced Settings to display information about your graphics adapter.

Windows Aero features require 128 MB of dedicated video memory.

In the Advanced Settings dialog box, click the Monitor tab. In the Monitor Settings area, click the Screen refresh rate arrow to display a list of valid refresh rates for the selected monitor.


The screen refresh rate, which varies from monitor to monitor, determines the number of times per second your monitor redraws the image. At lower refresh rates, the monitor may appear to be flickering rather than displaying a constant picture, and this can lead to eyestrain. A refresh rate of 70 Hertz (Hz) or above is considered to be flicker-free.

Select a screen refresh rate of at least 10 Hertz, preferably 70 or over. Then click OK.

If your computer system includes multiple monitors on the same graphics adapter or multiple enabled graphics adapters, select the other monitors in turn, click Advanced Settings, confirm the available graphics memory, select an appropriate refresh rate, and click OK.

In the Display Settings dialog box, click the Colors arrow to display the available color qualities.

Set the color quality to at least 32 bit. Then click OK.

In the Personalization window, click Window Color and Appearance.

If the Window Color And Appearance page opens, then Windows Aero is already selected as your color scheme; skip to step 15 to continue. Otherwise, the Appearance Settings dialog box opens.

In the Color scheme list, click Windows Aero. Then click Effects.


The Windows Aero option appears only if your hardware supports it.

In the Effects dialog box, select the Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts check box if it is not already selected, and in the list, click ClearType. Then click OK in each of the two open dialog boxes.

Windows Vista applies the Windows Aero interface. One effect you might immediately notice regardless of other settings is the change in the appearance of the Personalization window; the title bar takes on a subtle pattern, and if transparency is already enabled, you can see right through the window frame to whatever is behind the window.


Screens shown in the remainder of this exercise depict the full Windows Aero user interface; this interface is beautiful on screen, but might not display as well on the printed grayscale page of this book, so you’ll need to rely on what you see on screen for a true representation.

Point to the Personalization taskbar button.

A thumbnail representation of the window appears. This is another effect of Windows Aero.

In the Personalization window, click Window Color and Appearance.

When the Windows Aero color scheme is in effect, clicking this link opens the Window Color And Appearance page.

Click each of the eight color icons at the top of the page in turn.

The current selection is immediately previewed in the frame of the Window Color And Appearance page. The subtle pattern in the window frame might be more apparent against darker colors. You can tailor any of the colors to your liking by clicking Show Color Mixer and then adjusting the Hue, Saturation, and Brightness.

Select the Enable transparency check box, or if it is already selected, clear it and then reselect it.

Notice the subtle change between the transparent and solid window frames.

With the Enable transparency check box selected, drag the active window around the screen so that its title bar passes over another screen element such as a picture on the desktop background, the Sidebar, or a desktop icon.

You can see through the top, bottom, and both sides of the window frame, although the transparency is most noticeable in the title bar. The Default color provides the most transparency.

On the Window Color and Appearance page, click OK.

CLOSE the Personalization window.

  • Safari Books Online
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint