How-To Geek

Roundup: 16 Tweaks to Windows Vista Look & Feel

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
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We’ve come a long way in our coverage of Windows Vista, and it’s time to put together a roundup of all the articles that tweak the appearance of Windows Vista. If you’d like to suggest something that we left out, leave a comment with the details of what you’d like us to feature next.


Boot/Logon Screens

Customize Your Windows Vista Logon Screen
That default Vista screen gets boring after a while, but it’s easy to change.

Create a Custom Boot Logo for Windows Vista
You can customize that boring Windows Vista boot screen with a small utility.

Enable Hidden BootScreen in Windows Vista
Windows Vista has a built-in “Aurora” boot screen that you can enable with a quick tweak.

Fun Window Manager Stuff

Increase Size of Windows Vista Taskbar Previews
Make the built-in taskbar previews much bigger with a free utility by the brilliant Andreas Verhoeven.

Get the Beryl/Ubuntu “Desktop Cube” Effect for Windows
[update: This is no longer available for free, sadly, and is temporarily completely unavailable. This is why we should all support Open Source projects.]

Great Expose Clone for Windows Vista
This is one of the better clones out there, with many configurable features.

Mac OSX Expose Clone for Windows Vista
The first expose clone, but you might want to try the one above first.

Fonts and Icons

Tune Your ClearType Font Settings in Windows Vista
You can tune those fonts to look however you’d like.

Disable Shortcut Icon Arrow Overlay in Windows Vista
A perennial favorite, disabling the shortcut icons.

Why Do My Windows Vista Fonts Look Horrible?
Your computer manufacturer might have screwed up the default settings. 

Hide Desktop Icon Text on Windows Vista
Another favorite, hiding the text on your icons.

Aero and Stuff

Trim Windows Vista’s Bloated Window Borders
If you don’t like the huge Vista borders, you can make them smaller easily

Enable Slow-Motion Aero Animations in Windows Vista
Slow motion? What an odd registry hack.

Disable Aero on Windows Vista
Don’t like Aero? You can disable it easily.

Disable Flip3D in Windows Vista
Flip3D got you down because it’s so pathetic? Just get rid of it.

View Hidden 3D Benchmarks in Windows Vista
This one is pretty cool.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/23/07

Comments (25)

  1. Chris

    Just wanted to mention that the Desktop Cube effect is no longer free, or available :(

  2. The Geek


    Thanks for the note… I didn’t realize it had been sold off… This is why I like open source. =)

  3. Sandi

    Is there any way to put an e-mail, history, and refresh icon on the tool bar on Vista? I just got this thing three days ago and am going nuts! To get to mail, I have to go into programs and click on mail. It is rather a drag. Thanks.

  4. john

    im glad there that are people willing to teach non-teki people for free. i hope more people follow suit. Money is not everything. i just wish that u still exist for the next coming years

  5. Dave

    Has anyone created a “Windows Explorer” utility, with the same look, features, and functionality for Vista? I hate the new look in Vista.


  6. Jonathan

    I am haveing trouble with my Vista desktop. I want everything to be smaller so I can fit more icon on the screen without being crouded but it won’t let me go smaller or tell me how.

  7. sue neundorfer

    How do I restore windows vista ? I don’t understand all of the choices. Seems to me you should have gotten the bugs out before you put this on the market. I am very unhappy with my hp. I had it one month and the hard drive crashed and I had to send it back.It keeps telling me that I have low disc space. How could I? I’ve only had it for about 8 months. Thanx, Sue

  8. Rex

    HP computer’s have a smaller partition built in that stores utilities, restore images, etc. This is the “drive” that Vista is reporting is running out of room.

  9. Sound chaser

    I hate when windows explorer defaults to icon display when I ALWAYS want details
    is there a hack to kill icons?

  10. Mike Sestito

    Is there a way to change the icon fonts color in VISTA as we are able to do in XP or are we perennially condemmed to use the default BLACK color?



  11. Mike Sestito

    One annoying and inexplicable problem with VISTA is that the hard drive is always active, idling; the system seems to be doing something at all times. Do you have a solution to this?


  12. Cody

    Is there anyway I can download a windows vista quick lauch toolbar for free?

  13. whs

    Cody, use AppLauncher which is one of the Vista sidebar tools. Works great. If you need more detail make a posting on the HTG Forum. WHS

  14. abbas

    how can i draw a “crosswords”table in office word 2007 or2003?

  15. Labrie

    The Desktop Cube effect is available. Here:
    It is the old version, mentioned in the article.
    To Jonathan: Just hold Ctrl+mouse scroll! This changes icon size! Or use larger screen resolution :-)

  16. JAMES

    my start menu is now on the right side of the screen. how do i get back to the bottom?

  17. Jacob

    JAMES- Just move your mouse over a blank part of the start bar, click on it, and drag it down to the bottom again, while holding the left mouse button down. After it’s back down there, right click on it and click on Lock the Taskbar, so it won’t happen again.

  18. michael lee johnston

    How do I disable the drop down task bar that repeats the same functions as F1 thru F12, Ihave vista and it is in spanish, so give me real simple instructions, Thank you,

  19. Derik

    DeskSpace is available if you torrent it. Just a thought.

  20. oppo

    resize whatever bvy
    1. hold control and at the same time….
    2. click on what you want to make bigger/smaller then
    3. scroll up or down

  21. Jason

    The one hack/tweak that I’d appreciate is something that would disable that horrible auto-refresh/auto-arrange of files in Windows Explorer. It’s reall annoying renaming files in a folder with many files – you often have to scroll thru many columns to find the file you just renamed. I’ve done some searching online but found no real solution.

  22. Tommie

    When setting my new vista laptop it went surprisingly well. The only proble I found was that when trying to logon to my desktop vista would put the computer name in front of my login name. I can access my vista laptop from my desktop but I can not assess my desktop from my vista laptop. My desktop has XP pro.

  23. paul

    my c disk and e disk recovery icons are missing, when i go into my computer its just 2 sheets with 6 little square colours on them how do i get them back its vista i am using.
    thank you in advance

  24. Nicholas A. Carter

    I am a self taught, still learning by trial & error.
    But I did find my HP netbook speedup when I inserted a 4GB memory card into the slot on the side, as I dont really use it all that much for other puposes.
    I allocated in the properties box speedbooster & it works!!

    Can anyone tell me how I can restore some of my recovery disk as Im down to about 550KB???

  25. Neil (magoo)

    I to am self taught 77 and registered blind quite a combination! I am investigating how tofind ways of setting up my computer for my sight problems. I find a black background with yellow text(or lite colours best) but however i set up some items are not displayed, or covered by the black. seccondly , filling in reply forms! as this one. i can increse sizesof the web page(zoom) but it doesnt increase the type area enough for easy use. another item that i am investigating.
    any ideas

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