Windows Vista Annoyance #6: Turning on Windows Aero

April 22, 2007

All the cool Vista features you’re seeing on advertisements, like Flip-and-Flip and thumbnails from the Windows bar and all that?  They come on when Windows Aero is enabled.  Most of the time, Windows Aero isn’t enabled by default on a new or upgraded computer.

(Yes, I sorta discussed this topic when I explained how to turn on Windows Flip-and-Flip.  But I thought that actually turning on Windows Aero was important enough to have its own blog post.)

First of all, what version of Windows Vista do you have?  To find out what Windows Vista version you have, click on the Windows logo at the lower left corner, right-click on “Computer,” and select Properties. Under “Windows Edition,” it’d tell you which Vista version you have and whether it’s the 32-bit or 64-bit version, along with a link to “Upgrade Vista.”

If you have Windows Vista Basic, you’re outta luck.  Windows Aero is available only on Vista Home Premium and up.  Microsoft isn’t being too forthright about this, eh?

If you’re lucky enough (or your pocketbook’s deep enough) to have Vista Home Premium or Ultimate or better, then here’s how you can turn Windows Aero on.

1) Click on the Windows logo at the lower left corner

2) Select Control Panel, and then select Personalization

3) Click on “Window Color and Appearance”

4) If you then see a row of 8 colors, you need to click on the last link, “Open classic appearance properties for more color options”

5) In the “Appearance Settings” window, under “Color Scheme,” select “Windows Aero”

6) Click on “OK”

7) Windows will then update the display properties of, well, everything.

And you’ve activated Windows Aero!  Have fun.


35 Responses to “Windows Vista Annoyance #6: Turning on Windows Aero”

  1. Jeff Says:

    I would like to know how to change the theme back to aero from classic. My brother changed it so i can’t reverse it. I tried personalization and all of that stuff but i can’t figure out how to change it back. Could you help me? Please email me with a response

  2. Kevin Says:

    Well hey i have windows home premium and i cant find windows aero :/ theres windows vista basic but thats the closest i can get to

  3. Martin Says:

    same here, I have home premium, but no Aero :(

  4. Lance Says:

    well i have premium, and I could not figure out why aero was showing up. I had it before. I have it on my laptop. I was switching monitors and in the proces I had it turned to 16 bit. lol I turned it back to 32 bit and vwa la. its now working.

  5. evan Says:

    its either because ur graphics crad’s drivers arnt installed, or ur graphics card blows.

  6. guide Says:

    Hi! Nice site you got there!

  7. Mike Says:

    Oh!!! I just found something out! Okay my PC bumped down from Aero to basic sometimes when i used dual monitor. I read hat you have to be in 32 bit mode. My Laptop’s internal screen/monitor (is it just a screen when it’s internal and not a monirot, anyways the main one) was at 32 but, but the external display (my old[er] monitor plugged in) was at 16 bit by default! So I set that one to 32 bit and Aero is back! So if you do dual monitor then check that BOTH are in 32 bit, since the 2nd was at 16 both were bumped down and even though the main one was at 32 bit it wasnt on Aero. I guess to be safe Windows made the 2nd one 16 bit, therefore bumping me down! Now I figured out why Aero went away on Dual monitor sometimes!! I clicked the thing from the tray and read, it took me to display setting, checked both monitors, set the other one and now it’s back!!

  8. Will Says:

    Thanks for this post. I added a second monitor to my Vista Home Premium PC and all of a sudden Aero went away. I was afraid that it was a Vista limitation, but clearly that isn’t the case.

    As to Mike’s comment, it is very possible that my second monitor defaulted to 16-bit, but I checked after following the above steps. It was set to 32-bit; maybe switching the theme made the change for me?

    Anyhow, thanks again.

  9. Rob Says:

    Okay, I don’t know exactly where I should be posting this, but I think here might not hurt as a start. I switched my view of the personalize – window color and appearance to the classic view, and I have no idea how to revert it back to the view with the eight colors. Can anyone tell me how I can get it back to that? It’d be much appreciated.

  10. josh Says:

    hey i seen that you say color and appearence well i go to start,control panel,appearence and personalization,and from there on i cant seem to find the windows aero i have the see though thingy but i cant do that flippy thing please reply thanx

  11. Brittney Says:

    Having same problem as Rob!! Any suggestions??

  12. Roy Says:

    I had the same problem with some of you. I had been running Aero. But the PC bumped down to classic for some reason (after installing a program i think). I tried finding out the colour scheme and everything but Aero was just not there.

    Finally what I did was just changing my monitor bit rate from 32 to 16 and OK that. And then I changed it back to 32-bit and Aero came back to normal.

    Hope that helps :)

  13. Brad Says:

    Okay, a lot of you guys have been asking how to change Aero back off, and even though I’m not the publisher of this post or anything, I’m going to set you guys straight.

    To turn Vista Aero on, follow the steps he described.

    To turn Vista Aero OFF, go to your desktop, right click to Personalize. Then click on Window Color and Experience, then Open Classic appearance properties, then select “Windows Vista Basic” or whatever.

    Hope this helps and clears up the confusion!

  14. Brad Says:

    @Rob: You have to activate Aero to get to that. Once you do activate it, it will automatically jump to the one with the eight colors.

  15. Ted Says:

    Same problem as previous 6 posts. Color & Appearance only has 6 selections, none are aero.

  16. Ellie Says:

    I have windows vista premium and I used to have window flip 3D and (im not sure what its called) when you scrol over the minimized things at the bottom of the screen and you have a small window showing u whats going on… but it updated and now its boring. How do i set it to default?

  17. Jason Says:

    I am having the same problem as everyone else.

    I have Windows Vista Home Premium.

    I can open the Appearance Settings window BUT I do have an option to select Windows Aero and when I do (and hit apply and ok) it says it activates but if I close that window and reopen it, it is back to Windows Vista Basic.

    I also do not have any “Open Classic appearance properties” selection in my Appearance Settings window.

    Help! Cause Windows Vista Basic is ugly!

  18. Megan Says:

    EXACT same problem as anveryone else

    once i get to step 4 on your instructions is where i go wrong…

    i’m freakin out :'(

  19. david davidson Says:

    You have to have desktop composition enabled to have aero available in the appearance settings

    on the start menu or desktop right click on ‘computer’
    select properties and open advanced system settings.

    under performance click the settings button

    there should be a checkbox next to ‘enable desktop composition’… ensure that there is a checkbox next to it

    if you don’t have the option to turn on desktop composition then you have another problem, either 16bit color, or not enough graphics memory

    if you ran the system performance evaluation and windows determined that your computer could not handle aero due to video memory or something the option won’t be there

    you can clear out the performance index score so it shows as untested, and this will bring back the option to enable desktop composition, but if you don’t have enough memory for it to work then it won’t work and your computer could freak out.

  20. Sam Says:

    Thanks for the insight

  21. krizia Says:

    When i tried to follow the instructions i wasnt able to find window and colour apperance and my aero suddenly turned into vista basic. i cant find a way to switch it back please HELP!

  22. Travis Says:

    Thank you so much, windows just changed to windows basic and would go back, some how windows changed a few setting, like it was on 16bit so i had to change it back to 32bit etc, an you gave me the last piece of the jigsaw :)

    Thanks again dude.

  23. Ian Says:

    @Rob’s (Sep ’03) instructions worked for me. I have Windows Vista Ultimate and added a second (dual) screen which turned off Aero. In the ‘Display settings’ I had both monitors on 32-bit and in ‘Appearance settings’ the Color scheme was set to Windows Aero – but Aero was still turned off. To get it working again I followed @Rob’s instructions and changed both monitors to 16-bit on the ‘Display settings’ and clicked ‘OK’. I then put both monitors back to 32-bit and clicked ‘OK’. If this does not get Aero working, in the ‘Appearance settings’ try switching the color scheme to ‘Windows Vista Basic’ and back to ‘Windows Aero’.

  24. Poison Says:

    guys the problems remain..
    i have home premium
    i`ve read all the posts before me, and followed all the suggestions,
    i did all the things in the right way
    I mean, it`s simple..but why this on of a xxx it`s not working ???
    i have it on 32 bit colors too

    the pc it says its in areo mode but…how come i cant see the window with the colors??
    i cant change the color
    i want it back in pink damn areo!

    i really could use a serious help here before i totally freak out.

  25. Poison Says:

    Nevermind..i finally got it!

    we need to update java and restart the sistem..
    i assure u it wil work…at least it worked out for me.

  26. Proud Geek Says:

    Poison – thanks for figuring this out and sharing this with us!

  27. jameskb Says:

    tried the drop down from 32 to 16 and back again, low and behold! areo returneth! thanks folks

  28. jack Says:

    this is stupid i tried all of the things and none of them works i feel left out
    damn this is hard
    someone help please

  29. Aleksey Says:

    Thank you!
    Posting regarding Windows Aero was helpful.

  30. Von Says:

    i’ve tried all the above steps but known worked
    i don’t even get vista aero to come up as a selection
    i know i have becus it was on before

  31. Josh Says:

    It will be a miracle of you get this message but I have been dealing with this crap for years and I am getting tired of it. Everytime I try to play a game a pop up appears forcefully minimizing the window saying that Aero has stopped working. So when I try to go and fix it, Ta Da! Windows Aero is nowhere to be found so I can’t do squat about it. Further more, when i try your method of reactivating Windows Aero by going into WIndows Color and Appearace, It does not go to the screen you describe, it does to a dialouge box with different color options such as WIndows Basic, Classic, Black Contrast, etc. There are no option which you have described. If you can help me, please email me back.

  32. Redwine Says:

    I am having the same problem – I see the screen, and I try to change it to Areo but when I do it doesn’t do anything – it stays in classic mode. I also tried to change my computer from from 32 bit to 16 bit and then back to 32 bit and still nothing. I even tried to download WindowsBlinds – which helped me change it back before and I can apply changes to be windows areo and it is still classic. I cannot figure out what is going on – I haven’t tried updating Java yet tho. My settings were fine until I shut down my computer and installed windows updates – then when I started up my computer it couldn’t load my profile – and it sent me to a temp profile. I’ve also tried to restart my comp and consult a downloadable program from Microsoft which said my Desktop manager was disabled (when it is not) – can anyone please help me with my problem!?! It would be of great help to me!

  33. Sheryl Says:

    Ty so much for this site. i am a proud geek whos been playing with my comp for over 34 hrs trying to re-enable my windows vista aero. i stumbled across this stie and one of the posts said to try to reinstall the video drivers and it worked . i got my aero back . ty so much for this forum. so if your aero goes out try using the installation disk that came with your comp and reinstalling the drivers. becuas ei checked all area. services and themes was enabled and easy way to see if your OS has aero is to go under c/: and windows and then scroll down to resources and into themes and if aero appears you have it. this reinstall of video drivers works if a program installed compromised your visual interface and setting appearance. ty again for this site and forum.

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