Disable Cutesy Effects to Speed Up Windows XP
By Stephen Bucaro
There has been no SIGNIFICANT technological advance in Windows since Windows 95 (and I could
make a case since Windows 3.0). When Microsoft releases a new version of windows, what you
actually get is some simple cosmetic changes, like changing the default system colors, desktop
background, and re-arranging of menu items.
They also add cutesy effects like slides, fades, shadows, translucent effects, and animations
like the search puppy. Instead of getting a legitimate version upgrade with a significant
technological advance, you get a Microsoft dog and pony show. Unfortunately all these
animations, slides, fades, shadows, and translucent effects hog system resources.
• Do you want to be entertained by cutesy effects, or if you want to be productive?
The settings that control many of these cutesy effects can be disabled via the Control Panel
System utility. On the System utility [Advanced] tab, in the Performance section,
click on the [Settings] button. You'll see four radio buttons. The first two options enable all
features and the third option "Adjust for best performance" disables all features.
The fourth radio button allows you to choose individual effects in a list. You'll want to disable
any effect involving; animate, fade, shadow, slide, and translucent effects. However,
you may want to enable a few specific effects in the list, depending upon how your system is
configured and how you work.
 Show window contents while dragging.
Most people would want to disable this feature. However, some users frequently have multiple
windows open and position some of them partially off-screen so that only the area of the window
they are interested in is visible. If this describes you, then enable this feature.
 Smooth edges of screen fonts
Smoothing the edges of screen fonts involves a process called antialiasing. A brief explanation
of antialiasing is that if you have a black font, certain pixels will be replaced with pixels in
shades of gray to make the jagged (pixilated) edges of the font look smooth. If your system has
a CRT display or a very high quality LCD display, you might enable this effect. If you have a
standard LCD display, having this effect enabled will make text more difficult to read. Disable
smooth edges of screen fonts and your text will appear crisp, but pixilated.
 Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop
If you display a background image on your desktop, disabling this option will cause ugly rectangles
behind desktop icon labels. For best performance, you should NOT display a background image on your
desktop. To remove the background image, open the Control Panel Display utility and open
the [Desktop] tab. In the background list, click on "None". Then click on the [Apply] button.
However, many people MUST have their favorite background image on their desktop, regardless of any
performance sacrifice. If this describes you, then enable this feature.
 Use visual styles on windows and buttons
Disable this option and you'll understand what I mean when I say "new versions of windows are
nothing more than simple cosmetic changes". Your windows and dialog boxes will appear exactly
as they did back in Windows 95. If you prefer to work under the delusion that you're using a
more advanced version of windows, then enable this feature.
You need to decide whether you want to be entertained by Microsoft's dog and pony show, or if you
want to be productive. If you choose the latter, disable all the animations, slides, fades, shadows,
and translucent effects that hog system resources.
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