Make Vista Look Like XP

Category: Vista

I just got Windows Vista, after using XP for many years. Frankly, I'm not crazy about the Vista look and feel... are there some tweaks I can use to make Vista look more like XP?

How to make Vista look like XP

How To Make Vista Look Like XP

You're not alone... many people get that shiny new computer and can't wait to play with it. But after firing it up, they discover it has the dreaded Microsoft Vista user interface. Maybe it's the fact that Vista just feels a little sluggish on your computer, or things just aren't where they used to be. Here are my suggestions to help you turn Vista back into something that resembles your beloved XP.

Start out by right clicking on your Vista desktop (make sure you don't click an icon) and select the Personalize option. Double click on Theme then select Windows Classic from the drop-down box. Use the Desktop Background option to pick a plain blue background, and the Mouse Pointers option to get rid of that swirly-whirly Vista mouse pointer. It's looking better already, isn't it?

And hey, where did all my icons go? Vista has hidden many of the handy icons that used to hang out on the desktop, but here's how to get them back. On the upper left part of the Personalize window, click the Change Desktop Icons link. From here you can enable the Computer (aka My Computer), Documents (aka My Documents) and Control Panel icons.

To recapture the original XP Start Menu, right click on Start from the lower left corner. Select Properties then go to the Start Menu tab and click on the radio button that is located next to the Classic Menu option. Since you're already under the hood, let's make a few more adjustments. Click on Customize (also in the Start Menu tab) to change your icon sizes, restore the Recent Documents and Favorites items, and enable the Run command.

Turn OFF Vista Aero Microsoft has given Vista the Aero effect that makes your screen elements appear transparent. You can customize this or disable it. Again, right click on your desktop on an empty space, click Properties, then select Windows Color and Appearance. Choose a color scheme, then click on the Enable Transparency to get rid of the Aero, which is the default. Remember to click Ok and Apply. If it doesn't come out the way you like it, you can cancel your adjustment. Disabling Aero will help a lot if you have a graphics card that's not top of the line.

One thing that bothers many Vista newbies is the User Account Control (UAC) feature, which generates those "Windows needs your permission to continue" popups. You can turn off the UAC, but there are pros and cons involved. See Disable Vista UAC for more information on this.

Vista Tweaking Tools

If you don't want to DIY, there are alternatives. Tune-Up Utilities offers lots of features, among them defrag, increased performance and problem solving, but it also has the ability to easily customize your Vista theme. It is available for $49.95.

Also, check out Royale for Vista Basic, a Vista theme that duplicates the look of Windows XP.

And if you can't handle the new Word, Microsoft Office Marketplace has a Classic Menu for Word 2007 that will bring back the old-school toolbars and menus. It is available for a free trial, but after 60 days you will have to purchase it for $15.99.

By the way, if you upgraded from XP to Vista, you might want to go through your C drive and search for the "Windows.old" folder. This contains the "Program Files" and "Documents and Settings" folders that were on your computer before you make the leap to Vista. Copy what you need and then delete the "Windows.old" folder, because it takes up a big chunk of space on your hard drive. To do so, click Start, enter the "disk cleanup" command, select "Files from all users on this computer" then follow the instructions in the wizard.

Personally, I'm sticking with XP for as long as I can... hopefully Windows 7 (the follow-on to Vista) will be available when I need to upgrade or buy a new computer. But in the meantime, you can make Windows XP look like Vista without moving up to the new tech. VistaMizer is freeware for your PC with lots of tweaks to give your XP machine the look and feel of a bloated, sluggish Vista machine like your friends have.

Have you tweaked Vista to make it look like XP? Post a comment below...

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Most recent comments on "Make Vista Look Like XP"

Posted by:

Pierre M Laberge
22 Nov 2008

Gee Bob, thanks. I am not a pro, but I help a lot of people with their computers, and this will definitely help. WHY does everybody hate Vista?

Posted by:

29 Mar 2009

Thanks for this great article. In addition, the best other guides for Windows XP to Windows Vista and Windows 7 Transformation i've ever known on WinMatrix for every Windows XP user (thanks to amirz):


You can find and download many cool stuffs + even some port apps and guides/links there to totally transform and enhance XP like Windows Vista and or Windows 7 for free, in both GUI and feature/function! Just FYI. Thanks.

Long live XP!

Posted by:

08 May 2009

I have windows vista ultimate and I don't really like it, can you pls tell me if I can install xp, and where should I buy the software. thanks for your help.

Posted by:

11 Jun 2009

You are a lifesaver! I couldn't stand the look of Vista and now I've got my XP-look back! Thanks!

Posted by:

10 Jul 2009

Yeah, I want Windows XP, not boring Windows 98 or 2000, I still want color without all the crap....

Posted by:

Miss M
06 Jun 2010

Thank you! My uncle has despised the look and feel of Vista ever since he got this laptop. He has trouble finding things. Now he won't be lost anymore... too bad I can't make it less bloated, or very much less sluggish.

Posted by:

Manie Verster
20 Feb 2011

Hi Bob, when Vista came out I found an article to make Vista less sluggish and bloated but can not find it anymore. Can you help?

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