Marshall Adult Education






Windows XP comes preset with a bunch of animations and display effects when performing routine tasks.  These effects are clever and fun to look at but they can really slow down your computer.  You can customize your computer and eliminate these animations and effects and greatly speed up your computer operations.


Let’s take a look at how you do this.

  • Click on the Start Menu and point to Control Panels and then click on System
  • Now click on the Advanced tab at the top of the System Properties window.
  • In the Performance section (at the top) click on the Settings tab.
  • Click on the Visual Effects tabThe first thing you will notice is that there are 4 options at the top of this window.  You do not want to select any of the first 3 options.  Why?  .


Well - if you let “Windows choose what is best for my computer” (the first option), you are going to get a lot of special effect and animations – ones that Microsoft engineers think are really cool – not good!  Your fast 3 ghz computer may run about as fast as an old Pentium 1.  Hmmmm.


The 2nd option – Adjust for best performance, selects all the options that are available.  Uh Oh – now your computer will run as fast an old ‘486 (remember those?).


The 3rd option, Adjust for Best Performance.  This one deselects all options.   OK – so there may be a few options that you may want to keep.


So let’s look at them.   I will be brief in my explanations – you need to try these to test whether you want these on or off.


Animate Windows when minimizing and maximizing.  This is a good one for some people because it shows where the window goes when it is minimized.  I don’t like it – I don’t need to know that - I shut it off.


Fade or slide menus into view.  Turn it on and the drop-down menus kinda fade in.  Shut it off and they snap open quickly.  I don’t like it – I shut it off.


Fade or slide ToolTips into view.  This is just like the one above except that it works with ToolTips.  The ToolTips are those little pop-up thingys when you place the mouse over an icon in a toolbar that tells you what it’s for.  I don’t like it – I shut it off


Show shadows under menus and Show shadows under mouse pointer.  This options gives your menus and mouse pointer a little 3-D look.  Give me a break – Who needs it!


Show translucent selection rectangle.  When you click and hold down your left mouse button and drag, you will see a rectangle shape being drawn.  Try this on the Desktop.  Well, this option makes the rectangle from dotted lines when disabled.  Actually, I don’t think it makes any difference whether this one is one or off – so keep it off.


Show Windows contents while dragging.  When you drag a file or folder on the desktop or within a folder, you will see the contents of the file or folder while you are dragging.  If you shut it off, you will see just an outline of the file or folder you are dragging.  I like this one – this one stays on.


Slide open combo boxes.  This one is similar to the fade menus one except it works with drop down listboxes.  Another one that is pretty much a waste – it gets shut off.


Slide Taskbar buttons.  When you have several windows (or programs) open, the open files or windows have an icon in the Taskbar.  When you turn this one on and when you close a window or program, the other icons in the Taskbar slide to the left to fill the gap.  Shut it off and there is no sliding – the gap is closed instantaneously.  Well, pretty trivial – I shut it off.


Smooth edges of screen fonts.  Fonts drawn on your screen are made of tiny dots – called pixels.  With this turned in, your fonts as they appear on the screen will appear less jaggedy – they will appear smoother.  Shut it off, they will have more jagged edges.  It’s a toss up – experiment with it – see which one you like.  I leave mine on.


Use a background image for each folder type.  Some folders use a faint background image (sometimes called a watermark) – like the My Pictures folder and the My Music folder.  Uncheck this one to not use the background image in these type folders.  Yep – I shut it off.


Use common tasks in folders.  When you open a folder, you may notice a column – called a pane – on the left side of the window.  In this pane, there are links to other helpful things relating to the folder.  If you shut this one off, you will see more panes on the left side.  I like this one – I leave it on (it’s not a pain).  Get the subtle humor


Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop.  If you shut this one off, you will see a rectangle behind the text for the icons on the desktop.  Turn it on and the rectangle disappears.  It you have a busy background image, you may need to shut it off.  If you have a plain and simple background, leave it on.  It is a nice feature – makes your desktop look neat and clean.  I shut this one off.


Use visual styles on windows and buttons.  When you leave this on, you use the XP style for buttons and windows.  If you shut it off, you use the Classic style for windows and buttons.  Try them both – see which one you like best.  Since I am using the XP operating system, I leave it on – it does look cooler.


That’s it – do a little trimming – shut off things you don’t need and speed up your computer. 






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