Speeding Up Windows Vista by Disabling the Glass Effect

In Vista, Glass refers to a transparent (more accurately a translucent) effect that allows you to see through the border around windows on your desktop and look at a blurry version of whatever lies beneath. Most people find Glass worthwhile because it gives a visual clue about the contents of the window immediately below the one they’re working with.

Confusingly, you won’t find a setting called “Glass” anywhere in Vista.

You can improve the speed of your computer by disabling the Glass feature in Windows Vista. Microsoft spent a fortune tying Vista and Aero Glass together in the minds and pocketbooks of computer consumers. In fact, a large percentage of all Vista Home Basic users upgraded to Home Premium because they wanted to get Aero Glass.

What the ads don't tell you is that running Aero and Glass on your computer can bog the system down. You can make your computer run faster by cutting out the glitter and fluff, and the speed-up can be considerable if you have a less-capable video card.

The first thing to understand is that Aero and Glass are two completely different display features. Each one imposes a significant overhead on your computer. If you can live without one or the other or both, you can speed up your computer’s performance.

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  1. Right-click an empty spot on the desktop and choose Personalize. Then click the Window Color and Appearance link.

    If Aero is running, you get the Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

    If you see the Appearance Properties dialog box instead, click the Window Color and Appearance link.

  2. Uncheck the box marked Enable Transparency.

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    The Glass effect disappears.

    You can see the Glass effect only if you’re running the Aero shell. If you switch to any other shell, such as Windows Vista Basic or Windows Standard, Glass doesn’t exist: Borders around windows are opaque, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  3. Click OK and then “X” out of the Personalize Appearance and Sounds dialog box.

    To bring Glass back, repeat the procedure, and in Step 2, check the Enable Transparency box.

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