Windows 7 - Tip: Turn Off Transparency

There are thousands of ways to customize Windows 7. This week I’ll describe a few that might fit a few people and be unimportant for others.

Almost everyone runs Windows 7 with Aero enabled. Aero harnesses the video power in the current generation of motherboards and video cards to produce the thumbnail window previews that appear when you hover over taskbar icons, along with subtle animations and many more effects.

One of Aero’s effects can be distracting. Each window onscreen has a translucent border that allows the background to show through. The wallpaper shows through behind the taskbar as well. It’s an interesting and attractive effect but it can make the title bar of your programs difficult to read and it doesn’t really add anything to the process of getting work done. It’s just eye candy.

The feature is called “Transparency” and it can be turned off without affecting anything else.

This is what Internet Explorer looks like with transparency turned on:

Windows 7 - transparency enabled

This is the same window with transparency turned off:

Windows 7 - transparency disabled

The window borders are not featureless if transparency is turned off. They still have a little sheen, a pattern that moves when the window is dragged around. But personally, I find it’s a little easier to deal with my system with transparency turned off.


Right click on an empty area of the desktop and choose Personalize.

Windows 7 - disable transparency - personalize desktop

In the Personalization window, click the Window Color link at the bottom of the window

Windows 7 - disable transparency - Window Color

Uncheck the Enable transparency option to disable transparency.

Windows 7 - disable transparency - checkmark

The feature can be restored with a checkmark just as easily.

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