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Adjusting Animations

The visual effects of Windows 7 can be adjusted very easily, allowing you to
fine-tune the performance of Windows Explorer to work well with your hard-
ware configuration. This can be done using the Windows Performance Options
settings. Click the Start button, type SystemPropertiesPerformance (no spaces
between words) in the Search box, and then press Enter. This starts Performance
Options, as shown in Figure 14-4.

When Performance Options is started, you will notice three preset options
and one custom option:
Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer:  n Windows uses your
Windows Experience Index to pick the settings it thinks will result in the
best balance of appearance and performance for you.
Adjust for best appearance:  n Turns all settings on.

Adjust for best performance:  n Turns all settings off.
Custom:  n Allows you to select manually the individual settings to use.
Figure 14-4: Windows 7 Performance
Select the Custom option so that you have total control over which settings
to enable and disable. Now that you have the Custom option selected, you can
pick the individual settings that work best for your hardware. Take a look at
the following list of visual effect settings:
Animate controls and elements inside windows:  n This setting will animate
controls inside windows although it does not affect most applications.
Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing:  n This effect will
animate the window when it is minimized to the taskbar, as shown in
Figure 14-5. It is a cool-looking effect, but it is graphics intensive and can
slow down the performance of the GUI. I recommend disabling this effect
to gain some extra speed.

Enable desktop composition:  n This setting is one way to turn off the DWM
(desktop window manager) composition engine that is responsible for the
Aero Glass interface. Disabling this will cause your computer to revert to
the non-glass GUI that is similar to the Windows XP visual style engine.
Although disabling this feature will give you a big performance increase,
it kills the 7 look; therefore, I recommend keeping this setting checked.
Enable transparent glass:  n One of the most graphics intensive operations
of the Aero Glass interface is the transparent glass. This requires various
calculations to be run that blur the background behind the glass to com-
plete the transparent effect. Disabling this will give you a performance
increase on less powerful graphics cards. Glass still looks good even if
transparency is disabled, as shown in Figure 14-6.
Figure 14-6: Non-transparent Aero Glass
Fade or slide menus into view:  n This effect allows the menus that pop up
throughout the system to fade in. You will experience this when you navi-
gate through a menu bar or when you right-click something. This effect
does not affect the performance of the system except for when the effect is
called on. Some users who have older computers and slower video cards
can experience better performance by disabling this effect.
Fade or slide ToolTips into view:  n This effect will allow the ToolTips in
various parts of the system to slowly fade in when either an event occurs
or you hold your mouse over the object. This effect doesn’t affect per-
formance of the system of most users, but once again, those with older
systems should disable this effect for better performance.
Fade out menu items after clicking:  n This effect will fade the submenus
in the Start menu out after you click an item within the menu if you are
using the Classic Start menu. Unless you are using the Classic Windows
2000–style interface, this setting will not affect you. This effect, just as the

other fade effects, is slower on older systems and should be disabled for
best performance.
Save taskbar thumbnail previews: n  This setting will allow the system to
cache thumbnail previews so you always  have a thumbnail to display
when hovering over an opened application on the taskbar.
Show shadows under mouse pointer:  n This effect allows the mouse to
have the 3D effect. I have not found this feature to affect performance.
Show shadows under windows:  n Allows you to toggle if you want to
enable or disable shadows. Disabling the shadows creates a very different
look for the interface.
Show thumbnails instead of icons:  n This feature allows you to view
thumbnails of your images instead of the associated file icon. Unless
you have problems with a slow hard drive on your computer and a low
amount of RAM, or have directories with thousands of pictures in them at
once, I feel this feature provides more value and is worth the performance
decrease. However, if you don’t like thumbnail views of your images,
disable this to gain speed while browsing your image files.
Show translucent selection rectangle:  n When this effect is enabled, you
will see a nice-looking blue border with a semi-transparent blue interior
when you drag the mouse to select items instead of the old dotted line
box as we have all seen in older versions of Windows. Figure 14-7 shows
the two different types of selection rectangles. On older machines, I have
seen this effect work very slowly and often interfere with the mouse’s
selection of items because it seems to use up a lot of the CPU. On the
average computer, this effect presents no problems at all. If you have
a slow machine, then disable this effect; otherwise keep it enabled and
enjoy the nicer look.

Show window contents while dragging:  n If you are using the Aero Glass
interface and experience a lag when moving windows around, disabling
this option will help because you will see a box outline instead of the entire
window image when moving it. If you have to deal with a tiny lag, then keep
this effect enabled because it definitely looks nice when it is enabled.
Slide open combo boxes:  n This effect has no noticeable effect on
Smooth edges of screen fonts:  n This feature seems to depend more on your
video card and monitor than your system. Use of any type of font smooth-
ing will require it to do more work. On older machines, I would disable
this effect. Also, if you have a cathode ray tube type (CRT) monitor, you
will not benefit all that much by having this enabled. The font smoothing
effects, especially ClearType, work best on flat panel LCD monitors.
Smooth-scroll list boxes:  n This has no effect on performance based on
my tests. You would have to be crazy to disable this effect because it is
just so cool.
Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop:  n Unless you do not like
the look of this feature, I do not recommend disabling it. The performance
benefit of disabling it is insignificant.
Use visual styles on windows and buttons:  n Disabling this effect is one
way to make your computer look like it is from ten years ago. If you don’t
like the Aero Glass look and also do not like the non-glass visual style,
disabling this will give you the Classic Windows 2000 look. You will see
a huge performance increase, but your GUI will also look really old, so
the choice is up to you.
Now that you know what all the settings do, just uncheck any of the options
that you would like to disable and press OK to save your selections. Your computer
will then pause for up to 15 seconds while it adjusts all the settings.
If you ever change your mind and want an effect back, just go back to the
Performance Options tool and recheck any options you disabled.

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