Adjusting Visual Effects to Improve PC Speed

A few tweaks can help a struggling computer

Windows laptop

Karlis Dambrans / Flickr

With Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced the Aero Glass theme that, for its time, gave Vista PCs a sleek new look. Aero continued to influence Windows 7, and elements of Aero are still in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, despite Microsoft opting for a flatter look over the transparent style of Windows Vista and 7. 

If your computer isn't powerful enough, Aero's various effects adversely affect performance. But, like all things Windows, Microsoft offers a way for you to cut down on the effects and adjust them to your heart's content.

This guide applies to Windows 10.

How to Adjust Visual Effects on Your Windows Computer

To reduce the number of effects Windows utilizes:

  1. Type "performance" into the search box on the taskbar and select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

    Windows 10 search for the word "performance"
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  2. Under the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance.

    Performance options in Windows 10 with Adjust for best performance selected
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  3. Select Apply, then select OK.

  4. Restart your computer.

Benefit of Adjusting Visual Effects

Reducing the performance load of visual effects can result in speed increases for your computer, especially if it's an older model.

At the top of the Performance Options window, pick from four choices that effectively let Windows automate your Aero settings:

  • Let Windows choose what's best for my computer: This is the default setting.
  • Adjust for best appearance: If you choose this setting all effects will be used. This setting requires the most amount of operating memory.
  • Adjust for best performance: Most effects will not be used. This setting requires the least amount of operating memory of the three automated options.
  • Custom: This setting lets you choose the settings you want.

What to Do After Adjusting Visual Effects

The list of effects is pretty straightforward and should be easily understandable for most users. A few items you should consider unchecking right away are Save taskbar thumbnail, Show shadows under thumbnail, and Show shadows under windows.

If you're really having problems with performance, though, consider getting rid of most of the animation effects such as Animate controls and elements inside windows. Translucency effects also prove resource-intensive.