There are some issues surrounding enabling the Aero transparency in Windows 7. There are several factors to keep in consideration in order to see the features work properly. Most notable are the following conditions that have to be met in order for the visual effects to take place:

  • Desktop Window Manager must be enabled
  • Color Quality must be a minimum of 32 bit


First thing that you need to do is to select a Aero Theme (if you haven’t already) by right clicking the desktop and selecting Personalize. This will pull up the Personalization window and you will see a list of available Aero Themes that you can select from. Choose one and close the window.


At this point, if the transparency is working correctly, you should see the glass effect visualization on your desktop. If this is not working correctly, then there are some conditions to check. 

One condition is to see if the Desktop Window Manager is running. Go to Windows services by clicking the windows icon and typing services.msc in the search box and the press enter. It will pull up the Services window and scroll down until you find the service name of Desktop Window Manager Session Manager and make sure it’s started. If it’s not started, right click the name and select Start.


After the DWM condition is verified, there is a feature to run a Windows Troubleshooting tool to find and fix the problem in Windows 7

Start by clicking the windows icon and typing Aero in the search box. It will list some options under the Control Panel, select the one that states: Find and fix problems with transparency and other visual effects.


It will then bring up the troubleshooting wizard to help in determining if there is a problem with the Aero transparency.


After the wizard runs, if it finds a problem, it will state the issues that might be a cause for the transparency not to work. As in the case that I found for my laptop, it said that the DWM was enabled, however, the color quality was set to low. In order for the effects to run correctly, it requires a MINIMUM of 32bit.

At this point, go to the display settings of your laptop and verify that the color quality is set to 32 bit. For my scenario, that option to set the color quality higher was not available. I was running a nVidia Quadro NVS 140M graphics card and had run windows update to grab the driver for it. However, the driver only allowed a 16bit color quality. I went to the nVidia website and downloaded the latest driver for Windows 7 64bit and after installing and rebooting, it solved the issue and I now have the transparency.

I’ve seen some of the hacks of the registry for possibly getting around some of these situations, however, be very careful editing the registry because I’ve heard from several individuals that it corrupted their screen.

But, if you make sure that the 2 conditions that I stated are correct, you should enjoy the Aero functionality. Just make sure you have the latest drivers for your graphics card and it supports 32bit color quality.