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How To Enable Aero Glass-Style Transparency in Windows 8

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Aero Glass is gone in Windows 8. If you really miss Aero Glass, there’s a trick you can use to re-enable the transparent window title bars and borders – although Microsoft doesn’t want us to.

Microsoft has removed a lot of the code that makes Aero Glass, once an important Windows feature, possible. This trick doesn’t work perfectly – the blur effect has been removed by Microsoft and graphical corruption can occur in some situations.

High Contrast Theme

To activate a transparent glass effect, we’ll be using the high contrast theme’s colors with another theme’s settings.

To get started, right-click the desktop and select Personalize.

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Enable the High Contrast White theme by clicking it.

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Click the Color option at the bottom of the Personalization window.

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Leave the Color and Appearance window open – don’t click anything in it. Right-click your desktop again and select Personalize to open a second Personalization window.

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In the second Personalization window, click one of the Windows default themes to enable it.

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Go back to the Color and Appearance window you left open and click the Save changes button.

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You’ll now have transparent window borders. This isn’t quite Aero Glass – it’s full transparency, not a blur. You may also see some graphical corruption if you move the window. However, it’s the closest thing we can get to Aero Glass on Windows 8.

Aero8Tuner

You can also enable this effect using Aero8Tuner, created by the developer of the popular Aero Tuner for Windows 7. Unfortunately, Aero8Tuner doesn’t have as many options as Aero Tuner does. Microsoft removed many Aero features from Windows and it isn’t possible to re-enable them – Aero8Tuner only allows you to change settings that are hidden in Windows.

Using Aero8Tuner, you can easily enable the Force High Contrast Mode option to enable the transparency without using the high contrast theme trick. However, it won’t work any better than enabling it manually.

You can also use Aero8Tuner to set a custom window color – you can select any color you like, even ones that Windows doesn’t normally offer.

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Ultimately, this trick is a bit of a disappointment for Aero Glass fans that prefer the old Windows 7 look instead of the new, flat-color Windows 8 look. Some people are working on re-enabling full Aero Glass, but don’t hold your breath – Microsoft has gone out of their way to make it difficult.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 11/12/12

Comments (33)

  1. Lisa Wang

    Neat.
    Your Windows 8 book is not available to us Asian.

  2. Fantasm

    I’ve already figured out how to preserve the full Aero-glasss look…
    I’ve kept my Start Menu and don’t have to deal with the interface once named “Metro”…
    It also preserves Media Center and DVD playback…
    It works far more easily and makes it easy to close applications and even shut down the system…
    I run Windows 7 instead of windows 8. Solves all the problems…

  3. Deems

    @Fantasm – love the comment, you win the Internet!

  4. indianacarnie

    Bravo Fantasm! I am completely with you there as I suspect most 7 user’s are.

  5. NSDCars5

    Thanks! Now Windows 8 is bearable! :P

  6. winn

    dude fantasm windows 7 will still be windows 7 and old thats why we need to adapt to new os

  7. da_bull

    I don’t understand why so much hate on win 8. Look it has its quirks, but i find it to be much snapper than windows 7 and monitoring system performance is a breath of fresh air. Same with coping and pasting.

    I have been using it for a few weeks now, its certainly a shift from traditional windows, but, not enough to compel me to hate against it.

    and just like every other kind of change, just takes time to iron out the bumps.

  8. kelltic

    BUT – Can you get windows?? Size your applications so you can work with several applications at once??

  9. Kevalin

    “…and just like every other kind of change, just takes time to iron out the bumps…”

    Which, when comes to Windows, means waiting until 9 comes out.

  10. Rabo

    yeah….use the desktop like you have to anyways

  11. Indianatone

    I am with Fantasm, I don’t want a crippled OS like 8. Looks like a LEGO commercial.
    I am sticking to 7 on my PC’s. If by the time Windows 7 is obsolete and no longer supported if M$ have not changed their way I’ll either be too old to care and run unsupported or choose a Linux substitute. Keep a couple of machines with 7 on them for games and then do the rest online. It matters not what your device is you surf online on and will matter less by 2020.

  12. Sirmentio

    Wow so many windows 8 articles there needs to be a category!

  13. Areeb

    That high contrast white thing causes so much blur. I felt like I was using an 80′s computer lol.

  14. Coosa

    HTG should do an article to find out why Microsoft is so hellbent on not allowing users the choice of how the desktop operates. Leave the code in and warn users if you use the Start Men and more than 5 colors the system will be as slow as Win 7 and Santa may not come to your house.

    They are exhibiting more and more of Apple’s traits that I don’t like.

  15. TsarNikky

    An “poster child” of corporate arrogance at its best. Who is MS to say whether or not we want the Aero Glass look. The hyped it up so much to lure us into Windows-7. Now, they are taking it away as a (dubious) feature in Windows-8. (Oh, and also the Start menu.) Whatever happened to giving users choices, based on what THEY want on their machines, not what MS thinks they want? One of many reason to stay with Windows-7. Oh, all that ballyhoo about increased speed and energy conservation, just how important is for laptops and desktops in an office setting? Very little.

  16. Bob

    After reading about all the counter-intuitive things you have to do to navigate this OS compared to Win 7, I find there is NO reason to switch or upgrade to Windows 8!

    I love Win 7 and will use it until they pry my mouse out of my dead hands and I think MS has bitten the hand that feeds it with this new “too user-unfriendly” OS – besides, all MS is trying to do is make everything it produces eventually able to capitalize in on its Mediaplayer format and functioality.

    If I wanted a smart phone I would just go out and get one and not put up with the frustration of figuring out how to use my computer as a desktop sized one!

  17. Tom

    Will all the windows 8 haters please explain why you dislike it so much?
    I find it to be much faster and more efficient then 7. I had a painfully
    Slow single core laptop, upgraded it to windows 8, and suddenly it was fast.
    Boots in half the time now. As for metro it takes getting used to, but, after
    a couple of weeks, I’ve come to like it. Web browsing has really improved with
    IE 10 it is much faster then it used to be. And you still get the desktop you
    know and love. All in all, faster more efficient, better web browsing, better
    security (built-in antivirus), apps for the first time, I have to say it’s the
    best Windows yet. Time to enter the future guys. I though nothing could top
    7, I was wrong. If Microsoft keeps this up they could crush Android, maybe even
    Apple. I’ve been a windows geek since 3.1 and man they have come so far. Thanks
    to HTG for all the helpful articles.

  18. Rishabh Mathur

    Windows 8 is best yet. i could not imagine how fast a laptop can be.
    i just got a win 8 laptop for my dad. it has the same specs as my laptop bought 2 years ago(except intel 3rd gen processor).
    It took 15 seconds to boot and work, without any problem. and my laptop, then (2 years back) took 30 seconds to boot up, and then still worked slow until all startup programs started.

    As for the aero glass, i saw another solution at windowsvalley.com, they said it worked without glitches, although i dint try it.

  19. Marco

    everytime i hear people complain at windows 8: noobs, noobs everywhere

  20. imanoldgoat

    Windows, Schmindows. You’ll have to take my DOS and Floppies out of my cold, dead fingers!! (which they almost are already}

  21. bah

    Method does not work at all.

  22. Matthew Roach

    Everyone should go back to xp. Now there’s a decent os.

  23. Tom

    @ Matthew,

    XP was very good but is now showing it’s age.
    Hackers are having a fine time screwing anyone
    using an out dated OS. Better go to 7 at least.
    Even with SP3, and MSE, I still managed to get
    a virus browsing my e-mail. Thankfully it was
    easy to remove. But I can only hope a Trojan
    won’t get through. I only use my XP desktop
    for old dos games now, I disconnected it from
    the net. @ Marco, yeah that’s very true. :-)

  24. Keith

    Flip3D: I like it. I read that it’s gone in 8. Granted, it’s blingy eye candy, but I like it.

    also I always thought Aero Glass had class, compared to the flatness of ye older Windows versions. Maybe MS will see reason and put it back in 9. I won’t hold a vigil for it tho.

  25. Keith

    @da_bull
    how does that coping and pasting feature work? : – )

  26. Keith

    @kelltic
    Google ShellFolderFix.

  27. Sirmentio

    I swear the people who just love windows 8 should actually use that thing! You swipe the thing just to open a program! If that isn’t enough for you you need to get an account on microsoft just to use the built in apps! Your constantly having to use so many mouse gestures that you can’t even keep track on what to do. Plus they make everything so user friendly they are practically acting like the advanced users have NO idea what they are doing! on top of that they decide to get rid of the aero glass and Practically Yanking most of the old desktop feel outta it! They are leaning their ways into how apple does it and i despise it! And don’t even get me started with Windows RT. Whoever thought of the gimmick of a laptop acting like a smartphone is just the most Crazy guy i ever heard of….Ugh…

  28. Sirmentio

    What i meant at the first sentence was that they shouldn’t use that thing. >.>

  29. DaFoo

    I love Aero Glass, but I wouldn’t do this. The more I use Windows 8 on two of my computers, the more I like the new look on the desktop. It’s subtle, but still appealing. I also like the automatic color change function, paired with Bing Desktop, which changes my desktop to whatever picture is on the Bing homepage that day. That way, the colors of my windows change daily. Pretty nice.

  30. Tobias

    Use soluto to get your start menu back in windows 8 ;)

  31. Meh

    Honestly, I am not really bothered by the changes to Windows 8, it boots up faster than any of my Windows 7 machines and some of those have better specs. Sure they changed the UI, but that is to be expected as technology advances. As far as stability and gaming, I haven’t had any issues with Windows 8 and I have been installing and running various programs in both 32 and 64 bit (I am running 64bit Win8) and I haven’t had any problems running my games (Planetside 2, Mass Effect (all), SWTOR, etc…). The lack of a start button annoyed me, but I solved that by getting start8 from Stardock (only 5 bucks), not only does it add a skin-able start menu button, but it allows you to boot right into desktop, bypassing the Metro UI. In fact, start8 can help you not look at that Metro screen at all if you don’t want to. I know, Microsoft probably should have left that functionality in 8 and made it an option (kind of like classic view for control panel) and I am annoyed they didn’t, but the OS itself seems stable.

    Overall I am happy with Windows 8, those of you who wish to stay with Windows 7 go for it, I stayed with XP until 7 came out. Everyone I have heard personally that has bashed Windows 8 has all been about UI changes, however, there are ways around most of that (though I think we should have had the option to begin with and not have to “find” ways around it, but that’s life). I wish you all well!

  32. Dein

    If u want Win8 with Aero Glass
    Install the Enterprise Build:8400
    I already tested it, but i think ill go to Win8 Pro though..

  33. BVS

    Thanks , Its Working

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