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How to disable system visual effects to boost performance on Windows 10

Although Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to be a snappy OS, there are still countless of tweaks you can apply and things you can do to boost your device performance, such as adding more memory, upgrading to a Solid-State Drive (SSD) storage, and more.

However, one thing you probably didn't think about doing is to disable those fancy visual effects (e.g., windows and taskbar animations, box and mouse shadows, aero peek) on Windows 10. These visual effects are enabled by default, and they monopolize a part of the system resources causing your device to run slower and can also impact battery life, especially on older machines.

If you have a computer without very capable hardware that has been upgraded to Windows 10, or you have decent hardware and just want to take full advantage of the system resources, it's possible to adjust the performance options to speed up Windows 10.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to turn off visual effects to improve the performance of your device while freeing up some system resources for other tasks.

How to disable visual effects on Windows 10

In order to manage visual effects to speed up Windows 10 use the following steps:

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type sysdm.cpl and click OK to launch System Properties.
  3. Under "Performance," click the Settings button.

  1. On "Performance Options," under "Visual Effects," select the Adjust for best performance option to disable all the effects and animations.
    • Important: Using this option will also affect the way fonts are rendered. If you want to keep fonts crisp and more readable, select the Custom option instead, clear all the settings, but leave the Smooth edges of screen fonts option checked.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK.

Once you've completed the steps, navigating Windows 10 on your device will not only feel faster, but your computer will have some additional system resources to allocate for other tasks.

At any time, you can revert the changes using the same instructions, but on step No. 4, select the Let Windows choose what's best for my computer option.

If you don't feel comfortable changing these settings, you can alternatively go to Settings > Easy of Access, and in the Other options page turn off the Play animations in Windows toggle switch. However, disabling this option your device may seem a bit faster, but there are still other effects, such as box shadows, show content while dragging a window, and many others that will still be enabled slowing things down and using resources.

While we're focusing this guide for users running Windows 10, visual effects have been around for years, which means that you can also change the System Properties settings on previous versions, including on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

22 Comments
  • this is more like it, who needs blurry rubbish just add speed everyone is happy
  • Thank you.  I hated Aero. I hate Fluent as well.
  • Thank you. Valuable feedback right here, and I'm not sure how I managed to go through this day without this meaningful comment. Thank you, Scuba doggy
  • If I recall correctly you also hate Emoji. Or messaging that is not SMS. Oh and Android. And iOS. Probably Playstations and Spotify too
    That is a lot of hate there ^^ 
  • It's sad that these exact instructions were also needed in Windows 7, as well.  You would think MS would have found a way to optimize these effects by now.
  • Or just make better font rendering in W10...
  • That's is why I'm using Gdipp on my 5 yr's old laptop (low dpi/res). Now my eyes are relieved without the jaggerness/blockish fonts! 😊 Even on my friend 1080p display looks great!. ☺
  • These kind of tips are usually for older hardware, these kind instructions will always exist no matter what. There's nothing "sad" about it. Most modern hardware handles Windows 10 fine. 
  • Battery life may be a concern, but on any system with a reasonable GPU, effects won't affect performance, since the rendering will be using the otherwise unused GPU. Back in the Vista days, I did some tests showing that disabling Aero actually increased CPU usage when drawing windows.
  • That's why they had been offered these settings from w7.
  • I'm only concerned with efficiency. The effects have never bothered me, and the system has always felt "odd" to use without them. It was clearly designed with the effects in mind, like any modern desktop operating system. I have noticed that *not* using a Microsoft Account and removing software like OneDrive, Office... and switching from Edge to Firefox has had an absolutely massive effect on my battery life. Less bug encounters, as well. Firefox also has a far superior PDF reader interface to Microsoft Edge. Microsoft really should take note. If you are going to use a browser as the default reader, it should operate like Firefox's, where I can at least access the structure of the document in a pane and easily navigate around it... I upgrade that notebook this holiday season, and my iMac next year. I think I'm pretty much done with Microsoft. The system is incoherent, and I'm really not digging the Windows 10 UI. I was thinking about downgrading back to 8.1, but I didn't figure it was worth the trouble if I'm going to be completely replacing the machine in a few months, anyways. Until then, I just put in a little work to make it the least possible annoyance it could be. Too much work to make the system "not work the way you'd like it to" (has nothing to do with Windows being Windows), and it's inconsistent on both a functional and aesthetic level. The UI isn't all that pretty, either... Awful Font Rendering, Tablet-Optimized UWP Framework with designs that give the middle finger to desktop users. Buggy software (Video Player showing over half of the videos from my smartphones (iOS and Android) upside down, while WMP doesn't), and missing trivial (i.e. been in everything else for 5-10 years) features in the base application package. I threw my Tablet in the trash. Literally. I was going to recycle it, but the last time I set it aside from that, someone in the household tried to recommission it, and I just don't want to have to lay eyes on it again. Nothing was wrong with it. I just hated the device that much, because of the OS running on it. I replaced it with a Kindle Fire.
  • Wow such hate. It's fine if you have your preferences, but don't equate preferences to efficiency though. Can't argue against whatever bugs/issues you've encountered, but I'm glad I haven't encountered those issues you cited. Edge is getting better as a PDF reader (some improvements coming in the latest update), I use it for basic PDF reading but I agree other programs do a better job so far. I used to use Firefox a lot even preferred it over chrome for a long time, but it really slowed down for me and became pretty buggy. I haven't used it in a while though and mainly switch between Edge and Chrome right now.    
  • tbh... it's ok you like it simple, but dont bring Mac into efficiency talk...
    Mac's still keyboard-user-unfriendly. Shortcut key is faster than cursor and there's no menu-key either.
    UI/UX inconsistency if you know where to look. That been said, I'm glad that Mac finally gets resize-window-from-every-corner in 2012.
  • Well... it's the first thing I do with Android phones.
    keyword: developer options.
  • I've never bothered turning the effects off, using a reasonably powerful PC doesn't cause any problems. I can see why some low end laptops might benefit from disabling these though
  • The only place I can't post on here from is the Windows 10 app. Posting this from my Android phone. Will Windows Central ever fix this issue?
  • Use Website version from your PC.
  • Yes but what's the point of the UWP app then? This is one of the reasons why UWP is failing.
  • I used to do that on w7 PC. I know many of non-experts weren't aware from this. Keep flowing these articles 🙂
  • I had to remove these on my all-in-one, came with 4gb of RAM and an Intel Pentium processor. I doubled the RAM and switched all of these off so that it would stutter less, seems to have helped. Not perfect but it'll do - toyed with the idea of sticking an SSD in
  • An ssd is the single biggest improvement you can make
  • It is worth noting, that some of these settings no longer have ANY impact on performance. (This list is a hold over from the Vista/7 days.) For example, show Windows Contents While Dragging. The Composer is always on in Windows, and there is no redraw or effort for the system to move the Window as it just adjusts the X,Y coordinates of the 3D surface as you move the Window. Users should 'play' with the features to see which ones affect performance and are what they want. .... I also notice users still complain about Windows font rendering, but Windows is the only OS that properly pixel aligns fonts based on the font information. In contrast OS X has never respected the font information, and with their updated font rendering engine that was released as a part of their move to Retina displays, their font rendering also no longer attempts to compensate for poor 'kerning'. If you are not an iOS or OS X user, notice screenshots that are often posted on Twitter and other sites from an iOS or OS X device. The kerning is not accurate, and letters are over spaced and merge into nearby letters. (And no these are not ligatures, they are kerning errors.) An argument could be made about whether Windows should 'pixel align' fonts, but on lower resolution displays, it makes fonts easier to read. (Microsoft has tested user reading speeds and this is why they still pixel align.) On high resolution displays the pixel alignment is far more accurate and the stark (stick figure) appearance goes away. Also, if you want to go crazy, you can tell Windows to not use Font Hinting information. You can also modify the fonts if you want to override the hinting settings on a per font basis. With either solution, Windows no longer pixel aligns the fonts when rendered. This gives the appearance of OS X, but will be more accurate as Windows doesn't approximate the letter spacing/kerning and uses the information provided by the font. With Windows, you really do have the ability to make it work like you want. In the past 15 years users have forgotten this or are young enough to not realize how customizable Windows can be.