In the interests of exposing all of the secrets in Windows Vista, I’ve decided to explain how to create a shortcut that turns on or off the transparency in Windows Vista. I don’t find this especially useful, but I’m sure it will be relevant to at least one of the readers.

Update: This same tip works identically in Windows 7.

This tip is nothing new, and seems to have been featured on dozens of sites recently, but there seems to be a misunderstanding… this mechanism will not turn off Aero or the compositing engine, it simply disables the transparency.

Manually Enable/Disable Aero Transparency

You can achieve the same result by right-clicking on the Desktop and choosing Personalize and then “Window Color and Appearance”

You should see the “Enable transparency” checkbox in this screen, which works immediately.

Create Aero Transparency Shortcut

Right-click anywhere and choose New \ Shortcut, and then enter in one of the following into the Location box to create the new shortcut.

Turn Aero Transparency Off

rundll32.exe dwmApi #104

Turn Aero Transparency On

rundll32.exe dwmApi #102

For purposes of illustration, I’ve got the same screenshot with Aero transparency turned on and off… but I really am just trying to show off the fun Mario wallpaper.

With Aero Transparency On:

And with Aero Transparency Off:


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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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