Slow down window animations in Windows 8/7/Vista with the Shift key

In Windows Vista, Microsoft introduced the DWM (Desktop Window Manager) which implements fancy animation effects, transparency and Aero skins for window frames. Ever since Vista, it allows you to slow down window animations by pressing the Shift key (the animation you see when any dialog or window appears on screen, or when minimizing, or closing a window). This is a hidden feature that has to be enabled with a registry tweak. Read the rest of this article to learn how to enable it.

How to get true Aero Glass with Blur in Windows 8

An MSFN member 'BigMuscle' has implemented Aero Glass with transparency and blur for Windows 8. His tiny portable app Aero Glass for Win8 v0.2 hooks the DWM API in Windows 8 and creates real blur and transparency effects on window frames using Direct 2D and Direct 3D.

It is just AWESOME:

AeroGlass with blur in Windows 8
Aero Glass with Blur in Windows 8

How to install third party themes in Windows 8

Ever since Microsoft introduced the theming engine in Windows XP, they don't allow visual styles (themes) which are not digitally signed by themselves to be used. Windows 8 is no different in that regard, so we need to patch certain system files to be able to use these themes. In this tutorial, I will show you how you can use third party themes:

Option 1 (Recommended): UxStyle

Install the UxStyle software developed by Rafael Rivera. The main benefit of this app is that it keeps system files untouched on disk and works transparently in memory.

Just follow the instructions in the installation wizard.

How to reduce the startup delay for desktop apps in Windows 8

In case you aren't aware of this, Windows 8 delays the startup for all desktop apps. Shortcuts located in your Start Menu's Startup folder as well as the items which run from various Registry locations will be launched after a delay of few seconds. This behavior was implemented by Microsoft probably because Windows 8 is a tablet-oriented OS (another example of how the Desktop takes a backseat in Windows 8). However, you can reduce this startup delay for desktop apps by editing the Registry. Read this post to learn how.

How to pin any Modern (Metro) App to the Taskbar or the Desktop

One of the most anticipated and highly desired features lacking in Windows 8 is the ability to pin Modern (Metro) apps to the taskbar. Microsoft did not make this possible out of the box. There have been a few articles written by various websites covering how to do this but they only deal with the built-in Modern Apps. The method didn't work for additional  Store-installed apps.  Here's how you can do it easily with the help of a free third party tool, called OblyTile. OblyTile is a little tool that allows you to do two things:

- OblyTile lets you pin a shortcut to anything you want on the Start screen with a custom image of your choice. Even Desktop apps can have a custom static tile image instead of just a regular icon.

- OblyTile includes a launcher lets you launch Modern (Metro) apps from anywhere on the Desktop. Modern (Metro) apps have an AppID, stored in their shortcut (the AppID concept was introduced in Windows 7).  OblyTile lets you create a shortcut to a Modern app on your desktop that you can move or pin anywhere like the Taskbar or inside your favorite Start Menu replacement.

How to improve the way you close Modern (Metro) apps

Ever since I released "Close Threshold for Metro Apps" utility for Windows 8, many people have been asking me how to make it easier to close Modern Apps without using third party software.

In case you are not familiar with Close Threshold for Metro Apps, it is a utility that simply adjusts the registry value for mouse as well as for touch screens so that the distance needed to close a Modern App by dragging it from the top edge of the screen can be reduced to whatever you want. You no longer have to drag it all the way to the bottom of the screen to close an app. It's a significant improvement in usability, trust me.

Coming back to the manual way of accomplishing the same thing. because Windows RT-based devices are unable to run my utility as it does not have a version for ARM architecture.  Well, now they can use this simple registry tweak I am going to share.

How to tweak the settings of the parallax effect on the Windows 8 Start Screen

Parallax effect settings of the Start Screen in Windows 8

Whenever you scroll the tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen, you will notice that there is a difference in the speed of the animation of the Tiles and the Start Screen's background. The background scrolls slower than the tiles, giving the user a motion effect of a parallax. Today, I am going to share with you a hidden registry tweak which lets you customize the speed of the parallax effect in few simple steps.

Option one: Use our easy-to-use tool to tweak it
I have updated my Start Screen Animations Tweaker application to version 1.1. It now allows you to customize the hidden settings of the parallax effect.

start screen animations tweaker

How to disable Start Screen animations completely

Some time ago, we shared with you a simple tutorial on how to enable advanced animations for the Start Screen in Windows 8. But many people do not like any animation on the Start Screen because they prefer a fast and instantly responsive UI.  Today, we are going to share a very simple method to disable Start screen animations.