Registry Hack: How to enable Windows 7 Aero theme?

Some people don’t know how to enable the Windows 7 Aero theme and complain that Aero is not working in Windows 7, but Windows 7 comes with some nice tools for troubleshooting Aero themes, one of those troubleshooting tools can help you to identify problems with your current display settings that may be prevent you from enabling and running Aero Themes on your PC.

If that doesn’t work, you can use a little registry hack to force-enable Aero in Windows 7 and make it work even if your video card driver does not support WDDM.

Always make sure your graphic card actually supports Aero, you need a DirectX9 or higher card. Also keep in mind that some motherboards do not support the WDDM drivers and do not allow you to enable Aero
Important: Windows 7 Home Basic does NOT support all Windows 7 Aero features, e.g. it can’t display any transparent effects.

Aero not working in Windows 7

Can my PC run Windows Aero (Themes)?

Aero System requirements:

  • The minimum requirements for Aero in Windows 7 is a DirectX 9 graphic card that has 128MB RAM, Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
  • Additionally, you need a 1GHZ CPU and 1GB of RAM.
  • A WDDM driver (Windows Display Driver Model) is required to run the Windows Aero Glass Theme.

Windows Versions that support Aero (Themes):

  • Windows 7 Home Premium,
  • Windows 7 Professional,
  • Windows 7 Ultimate,
  • Windows Vista Home Premium,
  • Windows Vista Business,
  • Windows Vista Ultimate,
  • Windows Vista Enterprise

Windows 7 does not enable Aero by default if it can’t find any video driver that supports Aero or if your Experience Score is lower than ~3. You can easily find out if your PC supports Aero (so that you can run Aero themes, AeroPeek, AeroSnap and AeroShakre) by checking your Experience Score, for that open up the control panel and then click on “System”. The following window will popup and display your Windows Experience Score:

Windows Experience Score

Troubleshooting Aero + Themes

1. Step Open the Control Panel and then click on “Troubleshooting”:

Windows 7 Troubleshooting Aero Effects

2. Step Click on “Display Aero Desktop Effects“:

Display Aero Desktop Effects

3. Step Follow the wizard by clicking on “Next”:

Display Aero Effects such as transparency

4. Step It will auto-detect any display problems:

detecting problems

It will list your current problems that may affect your display and will try to auto-repair them.

Possible problems:

  • The current theme does not support Aero
  • Desktop Window Manager is disabled
  • Video card doesn’t support required display settings
  • Color depth is too low
  • Transparency is disabled
  • Mirror drivers don’t support Aero effects
  • Current power settings don’t support Aero desktop effects
  • Themes service isn’t running
  • Aero effects not supported on this Windows edition
  • Desktop Window Manager Sessions Manager service isn’t running
  • The Windows Experience Index has not been computed

Desktop Window Manager is Disabled

If Windows 7 can’t find any errors, you should try to force-enable Aero. Proceed with the instructions below.

Force Enable Aero in Windows 7

If you are using a driver that does not support the WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model ) then you have to force-enable Aero on your PC. To do that we will create a registry key to enable Aero and then restart the Desktop Window Manager Sessions Manager.

1. Step Open up the registry.

Regedit.exe

2. Step Uncollapse [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsDWM]

If you can’t seem to find the key, create the key. To create a registrysubkey right-click on the Windows registry “folder” and click on “New – Key”

If you followed my other Windows 7 tutorials, you will already know how to create 32-bit registry keys.

Create 32-bit DWORD registry key

3. Step We have to create 3 new DWORD (32-bit) keys:

“UseMachineCheck”, change the registry value to 0
“Blur”, change the registry value to 0
“Animations”, change the registry value to 0

Restart Desktop Window Manager Session Manager

Type in services.msc into the search field on the Start menu. Scroll down until you find the service “Desktop Window Manager Session Manager”. Stop the service, then start it again. If you can’t seem to figure out how that works, simply reboot.

You could also restart the service via Command Prompt:

net stop uxsms
net start uxsms

Firefox 3.6 Aero Theme Support

Firefox 3.6 now comes with FULL Aero support. Yep, Aero Peek now supports Firefox tabs, which means that you can preview any tab via the Aero feature, which is pretty handy. Unfortunately, Mozilla did not enable this feature by default, so you have to enable it manually. I wrote a how-to that explains how to enable full Aero in Firefox.

After all, you should be able to enable Aero and activate your Aero theme. If you are looking for some nice Aero themes, check this out: Windows 7 Aero Themes

Published: Monday, January 25th, 2010 Last Modified: July 22, 2014