Speed Up Any PC, Smartphone, or Tablet By Disabling Animations

By Chris Hoffman on December 23rd, 2014

Animations on a desktop PC, smartphone, or tablet are nice — the first few times. Eventually, you just wish they would hurry up and stop wasting your time.

Disabling (or just reducing) animations can speed up almost any interface. Sure, the animations are pretty fast already, but waiting for them over and over each day can start to feel silly.

Windows

The Windows desktop has long offered convenient options for disabling animations. These settings work across every version of Windows, from Windows XP to Windows 7 all the way up to Windows 8 and the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

To access the animation options, open the Control Panel, click System & Security, and click System. Click the “Advanced system settings” option in the sidebar. Click Settings under Performance and use the checkboxes here to control which animations Windows displays. Choosing “Adjust for best performance” is a quick way to disable all of them.

On a modern Windows system, these animations won’t really hurt your performance much — but they will make the system seem faster as menus snap into view and windows minimize and restore instantly. These options allow you to eliminate Windows 8’s Start screen animations, too.

Android

Android’s hidden Developer Options menu allows you to dramatically accelerate the animations or disable them completely. We’ve covered this before, and the process is basically the same on both Android 4.x and Android 5.0.

First, you’ll need to enable the Developer Options menu. Open the Settings app, scroll down to the bottom, and tap About phone or About tablet. Locate the “Build number” field and tap it seven times. You’ll see a notification saying you’re now a developer.

Tap the back button and tap the Developer options item that’s now appeared near the bottom of the Settings menu. Activate the Developer options slider, scroll down, and modify the “Window animation scale,” “Transition animation scale,” and “Animator duration scale” options. You can select “Animation off” to disable them or “Animation scale .5x” to make them twice as fast as normal.

iPhone & iPad

Apple fielded a lot of user complaints for the speed of animations in iOS 7. They’ve sped them up since then, but there’s still a way to reduce the interface’s animations.

To do so, open the Settings app, tap General, and tap Accessibility. Tap the Reduce Motion option and activate the switch. This won’t eliminate the animations entirely, but it replaces the motion animations with a fade that feels cleaner — and maybe faster.

Mac OS X

The slowest animations on a Mac are the window minimize and restore animations. They can be controlled from the Dock’s preferences pane. To access it, click the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and click Dock.

There’s no option to disable this animation entirely, but you can choose the “Scale” animation instead of the default “Genie” animation. Scale feels a bit faster and less distracting than Genie, so you’ll have a faster experience the next time you minimize and restore an application.

Unfortunately, there aren’t yet many other options for disabling animations as of OS X Yosemite. There is an option for disabling the bounce animation when applications launch in the Dock pane, though. Hopefully Apple will add more options for controlling the various animations.

Linux

Your Linux desktop environment probably has its own options for controlling its various desktop animations, too. You’ll usually find options for controlling animations that appear when windows open, close, minimize, or are restored.

On Ubuntu’s default Unity desktop, these options are a bit hard to get to. You’ll have to install the CompizConfig Settings Manager and use it to tweak the hidden graphical settings you’re normally not supposed to modify. From here, you can speed up or eliminate these animations by disabling them or changing their duration. Be careful when using this tool, as it’s rather complicated and isn’t intended for typical desktop users!


Practically every graphical interface offers some option to reduce animations. Some operating systems offer more complete options than others — the Windows desktop and Android are particularly configurable — but every operating system offers some. Across every graphical interface, eliminating, reducing, or just speeding up animations will make your interface feel faster. This is another tip that will probably serve you well on whatever interface you’re using ten years from now.

When Microsoft added new, extremely slow animations to the Windows 10 Technical Preview, some people asked Microsoft for an option to disable them. Others just went straight to the Performance settings dialog in Windows and disabled them on their own using standard options that have existed in Windows for a long time.

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 12/23/14
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