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I work from home, remote controlling a desktop running Windows 7 (primary applications are Office 2010, Visual Studio 2012, and so forth). Since I am working by remote control, for performance reasons I usually select the lowest level of color depth that is not pure grey scale.

What is the best way to configure the remote machine to display ideally at low color depth?

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The easiest way to minimize color depth and otherwise simplify the display is to basically turn off the Aero theming engine. This is what happens when you go to the last row of the bundled themes, labeled "Basic and High Contrast". These all use the old XP-era window config system, where coloring is much simpler. If you choose any of these themes (you'll probably only be interested in "Windows 7 Basic" or "Windows Classic") the gradients and transparencies go away. Also, the "Windows Color" link is no longer a simple link to a choice of transparency schemes; instead it brings up the old XP window customization dialog, where the tweaking options go way beyond color.

Ancient Dialog

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Good suggestion. In XP, there is also the option to pick from three "high-contrast" colour schemes from within the "Appearance" tab. Does Windows 7 have a similar option somewhere? –  Cerberus May 17 '13 at 4:04
    
Besides selecting a non-Aero theme might also want to turn off DWM completely. –  Karan May 21 '13 at 0:01

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