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I'm running Windows 7 RTM and while I do like Windows 7 I find that some of the "pretty" reduces usability. Specifically, I find the thumbnails in the Alt + Tab task switch UI and the thumbnail previews accessed from the taskbar to be completely useless. They would have to be several times larger to be useful and even then the usability would be less than in Windows XP. I cannot overstate my preference for the "application icon + window title" model that Windows 7 displays when I access it via Remote Desktop. I know the kids think this stuff is "cool", but I've got work to do :-)

The only options I've found for configuring this is the Group Policy editor, and that gets reset when I restart Windows. Does anyone know of a better way to configure this?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted


I was looking for this again and found that I could turnoff the thumbnails for the task bar in Group Policy.

  1. Click the Start button, type "gpedit.msc" and press enter.
  2. Navigate to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Start Menu and Taskbar.
  3. Right-Click on "Turn off taskbar thumbnails in the list to the right and choose "Edit".
  4. Click "Enable", then "OK".

I believe you will have to log off and log back on before this will take effect.

ORIGINAL ANSWER: Looking at this with a friend who has been using the Windows RC for some time I figured out that disable "Desktop Composition" was what I was looking for. Hallelujah and thank you God!

For those of you that are not Super Users:
1. Click Start.
2. Right-click Computer and select properties.
3. Click "Advanced System Properties".
4. Under performance, click "Settings...".
5. Uncheck "Enable desktop composition".
6. Click "OK".
7. Click "OK".

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You can turn off Aero features by right clicking the desktop and clicking personalize, then select any of the modes under "Basic and High Contrast Themes"

If you just want to turn off Aero Peek, you can right click on the Task Bar or Start Button and click properties, then under Taskbar, there should be a option saying "Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop"

I am unsure of how to use the original Alt + Tab without removing aero.

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Thanks for responding Wil! I had already turned off Aero Peek. I had not looked at the themes but I will play with them now. The basic theme may include this option. – Jim Clark Aug 21 '09 at 12:09

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