How-To Geek

Easily Disable Win 7 or Vista’s Aero Before Running an Application (Such as a Video Game)

You might be concerned with squeezing every last bit of performance out of your machine, or may have compatibility problems between Aero and an application that you are running. Either way you are looking for the simplest way to disable Aero while running that application, and this is it.

You can edit the properties of a shortcut and tell Windows to automatically disable Aero as soon as you start that application, and then re-enable it again once the application is closed.

Simply right-click on the shortcut and choose Properties, and then the Compatibility tab:


Now on the Settings block check the box for “Disable desktop composition” in order to disable Aero the next time you use the shortcut.

If you are having other compatibility problems I’d recommend using the compatibility modes on this same dialog. Note that we have covered Win7/Vista compatibility mode before, but I think it’s useful to point this out specifically.

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 01/16/08

Comments (30)

  1. Jordan Earl

    This is simply wrong advice for benefiting games. Vista’s composition runs through dx10. When a game requests the video hardware through either DX or OGL, the desktop effects are put on hold. The only time this might benefit someone is if they’re running a DX game in a window. This is the only case where I have seen Vista’s aero to stay running during a game. When any windowed program uses OGL, then aero is automatically disabled.

  2. Ibrahim

    It might help for compatibility with older games though, but in general I agree with Jordan, this is probably not necessary for increasing performance in games.

  3. Paul

    Doing this for the Eve-online client solved a wierd problem where I would get a nice high FPS (100+) for 5-15mins then it would crash to 10 FPS or so. So worth a shot if you are having any issues on specific games…

  4. MB

    Yes, and it’s a probably a great idea for the few games/3D apps that do run within windows, such as SecondLife.

    Good Tip!

  5. Kalle

    HAHAHAHA! After reading this tip I instantly change my World of Warcraft shortcut to disable Aero…And now that I (accidentally) came to this page again…What do I see? Screenshot of WoW properties xDDDDDDDDD

  6. Mike

    This is a good tip. Despite aero effects being put on hold while running games and therefore not affecting performance, aero has still caused me a number of bugs in games regarding incorrect resolutions being displayed. I was having to manually turn off aero when i played most games otherwise i was getting the display shrunk into a corner of the screen or conversely was only able to see a quarter of the play area. I don’t no if this was also because i was playing through a digital tv via hdmi and tv resolutions caused problems but this tip has saved me a lot of hassle! Nice one!

  7. PCgameRs

    good tip ! =) thx!

  8. Tony

    A lot of people run games in windows. I’m one of them. I already knew this, but I definitely don’t think some people looking to turn this off for windowed games is rare. It’s a useful tip.

    Some games do automatically disable it even when windowed. WoW isn’t one of them.

  9. Jon

    ^^ will apply it tonight, as lately when playing WoW on vista-64 Ultimate SP1, i’ve geen getting appauling FPS when in raids. I have a nvidia 8800GTX, and on XP-32, i could happily play at 1650×1280, with all visual’s maxed out and still get 25-45fps when all hell is being let loose in a 25man raid. However now i seemm to get about 10fps if im lucky and thats when all effects are on low to medium settings :(

    will repost if it fixes it :)

  10. Bruce Harr

    Thanks for this tip – I have tons of customers who will benefit from it!

  11. Matt Fahrner

    Solved my problem with full screen PowerDVD (I only have a 64mb card, which is fine for general Aero, but would make full screen video choppy)…

  12. Pete

    For you virtualization weenies (like me), this works around the client screen re-draw issues within the VMware vSphere client running on Vista and Windows 7. Now if only VMware would FIX the client for real, so it doesn’t make all my other windows “ugly” while it’s running… [It’d be really cool to find a way to make this only affect the vSphere client.] Thanks Lowell! ;-)

  13. JessSayin

    There’s is NO compatibility tab on the properties in Win7 64bit (RC).

  14. Thanks

    Thank you so much !

  15. Sirisma

    I have Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, and ever since I upgraded it from Vista, I have had nothing but issues. I can’t run Doom 3, Diablo 2, or Neverwinter Nights. I tried to disable visual themes and put in compatibility mode, but it doesn’t work. I don’t know why this happened, but I don’t want to have to sell all these games due to a retarded error.

  16. Rick

    I would agree with the guys saying this is not needed for fullscreen gaming. Also, if you can’t see it, then your video card isn’t doing it, ya know? You can be running a high performance game in a window, but if you minimise it so that you can’t see it, then your GPU activity should go down to 0%.

    Though I have come out of Crysis and Mirrors edge, to notice that windows is asking me if I want to disable aero, because my performance is low…

  17. Daz

    This IS a useful tip for people who play fullscreen games. When playing Dirt 2 or Aliens v Predator full screen on my Windows 7 64bit pc, the game is often interrupted by a dialog asking if I want to disable aero, because my performance is too low (when it isn’t affected at all). This tip has stopped that happening.

  18. John

    This tip solved my gaming problems! I was going crazy from trying to get my games to run consistently. They would run fine at first, but after viewing a movie on my computer (which I do a lot), the game would run minimized and I wouldn’t come up in full screen. I would have to reboot my computer to fix the problem. After this tweak my games are running perfectly! Thanks for the tip!

  19. Cal

    Not to revive an old thread, but I just wanted to add that this tip is useful for those who get a blank screen when using the PrtScrn button to capture the screen in-game in Windows 7.

  20. Darth_Trog

    After searching high and low, about why my games print screen function would not work on windows 7 when it worked fine for my xp system.

    After having to wade thru so many experts who tried to say “problem solved” because they suggested alt + PrtScrn.

    I wanted to say that the print screen works for some games but not all, for those that did not changing the setting as directed I can now capture with no issues.

  21. Fillan

    My problem is similar, but I am not sure if it is quite the same. While playing WOW I get a message that states, “the digital imager has stopped responding and has recovered”, however after about 3 or 4 times of this the computer dumpes and restarts. There has been a patch for WOW (4.0.1) and perhaps some changes they made have something to do with this. Any thoughts?

  22. nash

    wat is the application being used before the “database?”

  23. Dt

    Hey Fillan! I was having this problem like two months ago.. And no, the patch would not help you. You NEED to update your graphic card drivers, your directx, physx… Just to fix the problem you’v been having, caused by some thing wrong with one of these 3 options.. At least, solved my problem. :)

  24. Dan

    Great tip! Saved me!

  25. Illinger

    Interesting post, hadn’t noticed any issues with WoW myself, but what brought me here was trying to work around the playback bug with the Netflix plugin for Media Center. Would be nice to try this trick there, but the Compatibility tab is greyed out with a note that Media Center is part of the OS. Any alternate way to do this?

  26. Louise

    Thanx Mr geek I think your great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Tom

    Okey thanks for this verry useful tip !

  28. Pixel

    Thanks for this! It has solved the issue I had taking screen shots in game (Sims 2). Before, print screen was capturing whatever was behind my active (game) window, rather than the game itself. Since I tried your suggestion, alt-printscreen is working perfectly for me again. (Win 7 Professional) Cheers!

  29. roger


  30. Gerald

    Didn’t resolve my issue at all, I still have to check Run in 256 in order to get my program to work. It’s a time keeping program my employer uses.

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