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Windows Vista hints and tips 5

Tips index

Speed up the screen display part 1

display propertiesWindows Vista places greater demands on the video card than previous versions of Windows and this can slow down the computer slightly, particularly if the video card is not very powerful.

Low powered PCs may find that the interface is set to Vista Basic instead of the usual Aero and this is beacuse updating the screen is faster.

Even if your computer is capable of using Aero, you may find that it feels more responsive when it is set to use the Vista Basic interface.

All those fancy transparency effects are just a distraction anyway and they don't enable you to work any faster.

To change the interface right click an empty part of the desktop and select Personalize from the menu that is displayed.

Click the Window Colour and Appearance link and clear the tick against the Transparency option. This makes window borders and title bars solid instead of see through frosted glass.

You can go further than this by clicking Open classic appearance properties where you will see some more colour options.

Select Vista Basic in the drop-down list. You will still get all the benefits of Vista, but the screen display is a bit more responsive.

Speed up the screen display part 2

see the Effects button in the picture with the last tip? Click it and you will see options for smoothing the edges of screen fonts, showing shadows under menues and showing window contents while dragging. Clearing all the tick boxes will make updating the screen display a bit faster. However, it doesn't look quite as good. What do you want, speed or quality? The choice is yours.

Speed up the screen display part 3

Vista uses special effects and animations when displaying things on the screen. For example, there is a shadow under the mouse pointer, menus can fade out after being clicked and they have a shadow underneath them, tooltips can slide or fade into view and so on.

These effects look great, but they are not essential and they don't increase your productivity - just because there's a shadow under the mouse pointer it doesn't mean you'll finish your work twice as fast! In fact, the opposite is true and these special effects slow down the computer slightly. The effect on your computer depends on the power of the processor and the graphics chipset, so it is more noticeable on budget computers or laptops with onboard video rather than a powerful gaming machine with a top of the range Nvidia card.

Turning off the special effects will speed up the screen display on low powered PCs, so click the Start button, right click Computer and select Properties on the menu that is displayed. Go to the Advanced tab and click the Settings button in the Performance section. On the Visual Effects tab is a long list of items. You can clear the ticks against them all or just the ones you don't want. A quick way to turn off unnecessary screen display effects is to select the Adjust for best performance option. Click the OK buttons to apply the settings.

Speed up the screen display part 4

Vista comes with some attractive wallpapers that you can display on your desktop. You can also show off your photos by putting them on the desktop too. However, this slows down the computer by a tiny amount. The effect is most noticeable on computers with low powered processors and video chips, and the minimum 512Mb of RAM. This is not uncommon with laptops sold soon after Vista was launched.

By setting the background to a solid colour instead of a photo you will reduce the memory usage and speed up the computer a little. Right click the desktop and select Personalize from the menu that is displayed. Click Desktop Background and then select Solid Colours from the drop-down list. Choose one and click OK to close the window

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