How to Make Windows Vista Faster: Give it a Windows 98 Look

June 24, 2009 – 6:05 pm by Gabe Anderson | 2 Comments

I make a living at the computer. I also enjoy doing lots of other things online. So I spend a lot of time in front of my computer. My mind also jumps around really fast and I’m often doing more than one thing at a time. If my computer can’t keep up with me, I get really frustrated. I waste a lot of time waiting for Windows to finish “thinking” or processing my requests.

And Windows Vista is the worst. Since getting my new Vista machine about a year ago, it’s given me nothing but headaches — even after regularly fine-tuning it and scanning for registry and other issues with great apps like System Mechanic. My 5-year-old XP machine typically runs faster, so I often switch to it while Vista is experiencing some performance problem.

That all changed almost instantly today when I happened to discover the profound impact that Windows Visual Effects can have on the degradation of system performance.

Although they’re nice to have, I really don’t care about all the silly Visual Effects like the following:

  • Animate controls and elements inside windows
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Show shadows under mouse pointer
  • Show translucent selection triangle
  • Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop

All these Visual Effects just add up to slowing the performance of your system.

If you really want Windows Vista to fly and get incredibly fast performance — to have your computer really live up to the potential of its processor speed — then disable the Windows Visual Effects.

Here’s how to disable the Windows Visual Effects in Vista:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Type (or copy & paste) systempropertiesadvanced.
  3. Hit Enter.
  4. The Advanced tab of System Properties displays.
  5. Under the Performance section, click Settings:
    System Properties: Performance
  6. On the first tab, Visual Effects, select the radio button to Adjust for best performance:
    Adjust for Best Performance
  7. Click Apply and wait a few minutes while your system adjusts the settings.

It may look shocking at first — just like Windows 98, in fact — but you’ll notice an immediate boost in speed that, to me, is well worth the sacrifice in aesthetics.

And, of course, you can play with re-enabling the various Visual Effects settings, if there are some settings you can’t live without. For example, if you like seeing photo thumbnails in Windows Explorer, make sure you re-enable the option to Show thumbnails instead of icons.

You do lose out on some cool Vista features I’ve gotten used to, like being able to Alt-Tab and click your desired application, but I’m willing to live without that.

And you can still set your display to ClearType after you make this change, too:

  1. Click Show desktop.
  2. Right-click on your desktop and select Personalize.
  3. Click Window Color and Appearance.
  4. Click Effects and select the checkbox to Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts (notice my sweet new Windows 98-style window in below screenshot):
  5. Select ClearType from the drop-down menu and click OK.

Enjoy having an insanely fast Windows Vista experience!

Note: One issue I noticed after disabling all Visual Effects is that Chrome kept crashing. But installing the Chrome Beta fixed that problem (thanks, @articulatebrian, for that Chrome Beta tip).

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  1. 2 Responses to “How to Make Windows Vista Faster: Give it a Windows 98 Look”

  2. or you could just buy a Mac.

    By Matt on Jun 25, 2009

  3. Yup, I love my Macs and my iPhone, but for those of us who work in a PC world, we must be creative.

    By gabe on Jun 25, 2009

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