In a recent article, I wrote about speeding up your computer. In that article, I recommended adding more memory as the cheapest and most effective way to speed up an older computer. That helps you no matter what program you are running.
There are also some Windows XP settings that you can change to speed up your computer. These do not actually make a change in its speed, but they change your perception of its speed at a critical time — while you are waiting.
Windows XP has a “Performance Options” menu that includes 16 different checkboxes for settings that affect how fast Windows itself displays items on the screen — regardless of which video card you use. You can access this menu via Start / Control Panel / Performance and Maintenance.
Assuming that you use the Control Panel in the new Category view, and that you are looking at the Performance and Maintenance menu, the second item from the top is “Adjust visual effects.” Every one of these visual effects is there to make Windows XP prettier and “nicer.” Fortunately, Windows gives you four major options: Let windows choose what’s best for my computer, Adjust for best appearance, Adjust for best performance and Custom.
If display the Control Panel in the Classic View, this is one of the times that the new task-oriented view is much better. You can switch to the new style by opening the Control Panel (Start / Control Panel). Then, on the left hand side (the “common tasks” list), there is a selection “Switch to Category View.” Click on it to switch. If you want to switch back later, the Category View main page has a similar item on its common tasks listing to “Switch to Classic View.”
The list of the 16 options is so long that the Performance Options has its own scrollbar. Unfortunately, that Window is not resizeable, so I have to show it to you as two separate screen prints of my current settings. Notice that some of the items from the first image are repeated in the second image — only the last 5 items in the second image are additions to the first image’s list.
You might want to try the “Adjust for best appearance” and “Adjust for best performance” options just to see how they do on your computer. “Adjust for best performance” is fast but very plain — it looks more like early versions of Windows.