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Windows Vista

Configuring Windows Aero and Desktop Settings (part 1) - Working with Windows Display Settings

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6/30/2011 6:21:49 PM
From the moment users log on to their computers, they rely on the ability to accomplish tasks such as launching applications and working with documents quickly and easily. Perhaps the easiest way to identify whether a computer is running Windows Vista is to take a look at the desktop and GUI features. From the look of the taskbar to the layout of the Start menu, these components are easily identifiable as part of the Windows Vista operating system (OS).

The Windows Vista user interface includes many improvements over previous versions of the Windows platform. Although it provides enhancements to usability and functionality, there’s an aesthetic aspect that can’t be ignored. To accommodate a variety of different preferences, the look and feel of many different settings can be customized. In this lesson, you’ll cover details related to configuring these options, using Control Panel and other settings.

Working with Windows Display Settings

Windows Vista has been designed with a look and feel that is easy to configure and customize, using simple GUI-based tools. Most of these options are available directly from within Control Panel, although there are other ways to access the same settings more quickly. In this section, you’ll walk through various display-related settings and the effects that they will have on the look and feel of the desktop.

Accessing Display Settings

The first step in configuring display settings is to find out how to access these various options. There are two main ways in which you can access display-related settings in Windows Vista, as follows:

  • Using Control Panel You can access most of the Windows Vista configuration settings through Control Panel. Users access Control Panel by clicking Start → Control Panel. In the Control Panel Home window, clicking Appearance And Personalization enables you to access links to additional options (see Figure 1). Common tasks, such as changing the desktop background and modifying desktop themes, are accessible from here. If you prefer to use the Control Panel Classic view, you can access these options by clicking the Classic View link. The Classic view is similar to that in previous versions of Windows. You can also use the integrated search feature within Control Panel to find appropriate settings.

    Figure 1. Accessing the Appearance And Personalization options in Control Panel
  • From the desktop By right-clicking the desktop and choosing Personalize, users can quickly jump to the Personalization window (see Figure 2). This is the same window that you access through Control Panel, but you can access it using fewer mouse clicks.

Figure 2. Viewing options for personalizing appearance and sounds

Regardless of the method used to access the settings, all of the options are the same. When supporting customers and other users, you can always instruct them to close any open windows and return to the Personalization window as a starting point. In the remainder of this lesson, you’ll walk through the available settings in more detail.

Managing Windows Display Settings

The most noticeable features of a computer’s display include several settings that are configured for the video adapter. By default, Windows Vista tries to choose the most appropriate settings for the computer based on the capabilities of the installed graphics adapter and display devices.

You can configure the primary properties by using the Display Settings dialog box (see Figure 3). The main configuration options include the following:

  • Resolution Resolution refers to the number of pixels that are displayed on the screen. Common resolutions include 1024 × 768 and 1280 × 1024. It is also becoming increasingly common for desktop and notebook displays to include widescreen configurations, such as 1680 × 1050. In general, higher resolutions provide the ability to view more information on the screen at one time (although the text and application windows might appear smaller).

  • Colors The number of bits used to represent colors can affect the quality of the overall display. This setting is generally most noticeable in photos and other images. In general, users should select the maximum number of colors supported by their video adapter. To use Windows Aero features, you must select the Highest (32-bit) option.

  • Screen refresh rate The refresh rate indicates the number of times the screen is redrawn per second (the rate is measured in Hertz [Hz]). For cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, higher refresh rates result in a more stable image with less visible flickering. Some users might find that they experience headaches or fatigue when running at a refresh rate that is too low. In general, users should select the highest refresh rate that their monitor and video adapter can support. The maximum refresh rate will vary based on the capabilities of the video card, the capabilities of the monitor, and the desktop resolution setting. To access these options, click Advanced Settings, and then click the Monitor tab (see Figure 4).

    Figure 3. Accessing the Display Settings properties

    Figure 4. Viewing and setting the screen refresh rate

    For LCD-based displays, manufacturers usually recommend an optimal refresh rate. Windows Vista typically detects this refresh rate automatically, but you can also find the information in the display’s menu system or documentation.

  • Multiple monitors Many users have discovered the usability and productivity benefits of having multiple monitors attached to the same computer. To support multiple monitors, the computer must have a video card with multiple outputs, or it might have multiple independent video cards (each connected to one monitor). Assuming that the computer has this capability, users can specify the physical arrangement of the monitors in the Display Settings dialog box (see Figure 5). Options include the ability to specify which is the main monitor (the display on which the Start menu and other programs will appear) and to extend the desktop onto other monitors. If you’re not sure about how the current monitors are numbered, you can click Identify Monitors to display the numbers on each screen briefly.

Figure 5. Configuring Display Settings options for multiple monitors


On CRT-based displays, users often choose their resolution settings based on personal preferences. Some types of computer displays (such as LCD flat-panel monitors) use a fixed number of pixels to generate an image. These displays work best at their recommended optimal resolution. When run at either a higher or a lower resolution, text might become difficult to read, and images will appear grainy. In most cases, Windows Vista is able to detect the supported resolutions of the video adapter and the optimal resolution of the connected display devices automatically.

Other -----------------
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