Demo: Give Windows a visual makeover

Picture of Michael Stroh

In this video you'll learn about Windows Themes, Aero Glass, and how to restyle your desktop. (If you have Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Starter, not all of these features will be available.)




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We’ve all seen those makeover shows on TV where someone gets a new house, new car—even a new face. Well, what about your computer?

Hi. I’m Michael Stroh, a writer on the Windows team at Microsoft. And today I’m going to show you how to put the personal back in personal computing by restyling the look of your Windows Vista desktop.

By giving your PC a digital makeover, you’ll be able to change its appearance from…this…to this…even this. Pretty cool, huh?

Personalizing your PC is a lot of fun. But there’s also a practical side to all of this. Some of the changes can improve your computer’s performance. Others can make Windows easier on the eyes, and therefore easier to use.

To get started, point to empty spot on the desktop, right-click, then click Personalize. From this control panel, you can customize just about every aspect of what you see in Windows. From the menus to mouse pointer to the icons to the text.

Let’s start by clicking Windows Color and Appearance, which controls one of the most eye-popping elements of Windows Vista: Aero. Aero is the name for a whole slew of design updates. Window edges now look like translucent panes of shimmering glass.

Then there’s Flip 3D, which allows you to preview windows by shuffling them like a deck of cards.

Finally, my own favorite. Point to any minimized window on the taskbar and you get these little animated pop-ups to show what lies behind them.

Now some of you might be saying. Wait a minute, I don’t see any of that stuff. If so, it could mean a couple of things. If your computer is older, it could be too slow for Aero. As you might imagine, all those 3-D animations require some serious number-crunching.

Or, it could mean that you need to update the driver or your video card.

Finally, you might not be running the right version of Windows. Aero doesn’t come on the Home Basic edition of Windows Vista.

Alright. Back to our makeover. You can change the color of your windows from this palette. And you can turn off the transparent glass effect in Aero by clearing this check box. This can sometimes boost the performance of your PC.

Maybe you don’t like the look of Aero. Or you’re just nostalgic for Windows of old. No problem. Click this text link and pick one of the non-Aero color schemes listed here. “Windows Classic” has the retro look of Windows 2000. People with low vision might prefer one of these high-contrast color schemes.

Another popular way to spruce up Windows is to change the desktop background, also known as wallpaper. Simply click the Desktop Background link and browse through the Wallpapers supplied with Vista. I’m in the mood for a little bamboo today.

Or, if you’d prefer, use the Browse button or this drop-down menu to pick something a little more personal. Like this picture of my kid. Once you’ve tailored Windows to your taste, save it as a “theme.” That’s the collection of visual styles—even sounds—that determine the look of your desktop. Click Themes and Save as. Type in a name—I'll call it Yoshi's Theme—and click Save.

I’m Michael Stroh. Thanks for watching and happy decorating.