How-To Geek

Understanding Windows Vista Aero Glass Requirements

The Windows Vista Aero Glass interface is one of the major changes in the newest version of windows. What is less clear for most people is what conditions have to be met for Aero to be enabled. If you are sure your system meets the requirements but it’s still not enabled, Here’s a list of conditions.

  • Your graphics card should support DirectX 9. Most decent cards already do.
  • The graphics card must support Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware. This is the critical piece that you will have to check with your graphics card manufacturer. If you have a newer ATI or NVIDIA card, you should be good.
  • The driver must be written specifically for Windows Vista. You’ll be able to see that your graphics card driver is a Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) driver by looking at the adapter type in device manager:
  • The system must be set to 32 bits per pixel. If you are running at a different color depth, this could be the reason why your system doesn’t have Aero enabled.
  • The primary monitor refresh rate must be set to at least 10hz. Why you’d have it set to less, I have no clue.
  • You must have a graphics card with at least 64MB of RAM in it, although I’d suggest a card with more memory. If you have a lower memory graphics card, you may have to decrease the resolution to enable Aero.
  • Your system must have at least 512mb of available RAM. I’d suggest using at least 1GB of RAM in your computer, and preferably even more.
  • Aero will not work on Windows Vista Basic edition. For best results, get the Ultimate version.

If you meet all of the conditions and Aero still isn’t enabled, you can manually enable Aero by right-clicking on the desktop, clicking Personalize, and clicking Window Color and Appearance.

You should see Windows Aero in the list. Click that, and hopefully Aero will now be enabled.

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 01/21/07

Comments (31)

  1. Anonymous

    If you don’t have any burning desire (ie. You don’t feel compelled) to have the glass feature enabled, I’d strongly recommend that you disabled it (unless you’re using a high-end pc system). If your pc’s specs aren’t very good, you will notice that having the glass feature disabled will considerably speed up and improve your computer’s overall performance.

    If you do feel the need to have it enabled (and your pc hasn’t got killer specifications), I’d at least disable it whilst gaming/multi-tasking.


  2. Aaron

    how much and where would i be looking to get a card so i can use Aero?
    Cheers Aaron

  3. abhishek

    hey m nt getting option of windowz aero cn u ell me how cn i download windowz aero……….

  4. Dany

    Hey I’ve got windows vista ultimate but there’s no windows aero in the appearance settings, is there anyway i can enable it
    i’ve got the MSI FX5900 Graphic card and 512MB of Ram.

  5. Dave

    Hey, I’ve got Vista Ultimate, but like Dany, the ‘Windows Aero’ colour scheme isn’t there (it’s the same as the image above, but without the Aero option). I have a low-end graphics card, so is the Aero option being automatically omitted? Is there any work around, other than buying a new card?

  6. Selkie

    You need to have Vista recalculate your performance spec

  7. Carole

    Hello, I have a new Dell Inspiron 530S running Windows Vista Home Premium.
    It seems to meet all requirements, but I’m unable to use Aero.
    I have it on my list, but the Aero selection window appears the same as Vista Basic, not as demonstrated online (at Microsoft) with different color choice thumbnails.

    I choose it, click apply-ok and it remains the same. I do have the sidebar (google sidebar) but no 3D cascading windows when using alt+tab, and no clear-shaded windows.
    Graphics card driver is up to date, an ATI Radeon X1300, 128MB, Pixel shader 3.0, refresh rate 75mHz, 1GB memory and supports direct x 9.0. I just can’t figure it out.
    Any other ideas? Thanks.

  8. Carole

    Well, I fixed part of it by disabling Quicktime from the taskbar. I did a google search for qttask.exe and read one of the annoyance pages for help. After disabling it my Windows Aero choices changed to give me all the colors of glass options.
    I still don’t have cascading windows though, working on that…

  9. Carole

    Okay, to view the cascading flip 3D windows, one must use the “win key” + tab instead of alt+tab to scroll between windows.
    Sheesh, an instruction manual would have been nice, but then they never really help, do they.

  10. Carole

    Removing Quicktime has removed the Google Sidebar. I suspect this was the cause of my entire Aero problem. I will now be using the Vista Sidebar.

  11. karl

    thank you carole you fixed my problem aswell , that dam quicktime

  12. Mohan

    Although I purchased PC with Intel DG33FB mother board, core2Duo 2.66GHz processor,4 GB DDR-2 RAM and Vista Ultimate and installing Vista Ultimate does not show up Windows Aero in the Colour and Appearence setting… It shows only Windows vista Basic!. I found DG33FB has G33 Express Chiset for display and is very well meets all the requirements.. I checked with microsoft web site and Intel’s… but no help.

    Any Help!


  13. ilyas

    i have hp pavilion tx1320us notbook pc 2gb ram iam using for last 4months always getting problem with that
    i recover my pc so many times , this time i desided not to do any thing but i got a problem after updating my pc. my problem is . whenever i start any program its ask permission to open my screen is going black for a 10 to 15 sec. before and after given a permission of any program start. can u please help me in this or mail me if posssible


  14. Alexander


    My Laptop has met all the requirements, but the aero still isn’t in there,… do i have to do something? to install it or something?

  15. Kevin

    I install vista ultimate, 512 mb ram, ATI RADEON X300, 2.66 GHz pentium 4 but I can activate the aero glass and can do windows flip 3d smoothly

  16. David

    One other thing – if you are NOT running SP1, having Windows Genuine Advantage (ie. antipiracy) authentication fail on an activated copy (e.g. when you go to Microsoft to download software and get the authenticity check) will disable Aero. This behaviour is no longer present in SP1, though.

  17. unknown

    Use Readyboost funtion in windows vista to speed up your computer, take a for 4gb pendrive and increase your ram

  18. AERO

    I once had a motherboard, Radeon Xpress 200, with an integrated X300, with DirectX 9, and only 32 MB of video RAM. To my surprise, Aero worked, even though I know that it shouldn’t have.

  19. AeroDude

    Decent overview of Aero, though it won’t help troubleshoot the various issues that can come up when trying to enable it.

  20. Blueiced

    I need help ive been looking at vista themes all over the net alls i want is one that makes me start menu and taskbar clear glass i dont need anthing else just that i’m runiing win vista ultamate please can some one email me or tell me if and how you can just style those 2 items instead of d’l other peoples themes much thanx and surf with a clean mind ;o)

  21. kim

    windows aero is not on the list..all other requirements are using Mobile Intel(R) 965 Express chipset family..why do you think it wont work?

  22. Raymond

    I’m running Vista Business, meet all the reqs and still can’t run it…. By any chance is this because I did a “In-Place Upgrade”. I’ve already given the card shared system memory but it won’t pick it up. Funny thing is, I don’t have the Windows Aero color scheme at all, is it possible because of low graphics memory on a Full HD Resolution (1920 x 1080) at 75hz???

  23. vasu

    carol u have to install all the drivers in ur dell pc.then u can see aero scheme

  24. Marsh

    I have done everything to get this Aero on my computer! but nothing works!! i NEED help!!!!! :'(

  25. Netbob

    Make sure that your display driver color settings are set to 32 bit and NOT 16 bit. Aero will not show on the list until you do that.

  26. Lukom

    i have a new nvidia 128mb g.card and 512mb ram, 2.8gh cpu and running windows vista but aero doesnt come on and my score shows 1.0, is there anyway of activating it or do i have to get new drivers if so which ones?

  27. Lukom

    hi all
    i checked my system again my card is nvidia geforce4 MX440 and is using Microsoft Corporation XDDM drivers, is there a way i can change this driver to Microsoft Corpoation WDDM so that i can use aero?

  28. Amy

    I changed my windows xp to windows vista but the Appearance and Personalization ar not in my control panel.only Appearance and Theme =C
    And mine is only VistaMize not Window Aero
    Plz HELP!!!I’m BEGGING! T.T
    T_TJust PLZ -.-

  29. Amy

    ^And i’m new too in vista……
    |Plz Help!!

  30. gasss

    How do i get this on XP?

  31. VicK

    And if u hate the display while maximizing window,just open that f**kin window…Right click on toolbar and click on “show windows stacked”
    buh u’ll have to independtly select this option on every window…

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