Have you ever thought about the visual status of your Windows XP components? You may spend hours each day with your good old friend (your computer) and you're probably more acquainted with the preset visual details of your Windows elements (like icons, folder details, previews, thumbnails and so on) than you think.
Windows XP offers a lot of options and possibilities for its users, including just changing the way its components are displayed on the screen. As for a few examples, when your programs menu opens in a beautiful fade-in mode or when you enjoy having an appealing blue colored taskbar and colorful windows and when using a background image for each folder type. These are among the various visual effects that Windows is able to offer.
So, have you ever thought about what effects these minor features might have on your computer's overall performance? Did you know that although assigning Windows to do additional and more appealing tasks can create a nice, fresh working atmosphere, these tasks need physical resources and energy coming from your computer's CPU and RAM too. Also, naturally, these tasks have an effect on your computer's smoothness when it's running.
You might probably think that today, with computers built with really heavy parts, such as 1024 MB RAM or P4 power machines, there is no need to worry about such minor side effects. On the other hand though, even if you're using the most professional computer, it's nice to know how much control you have over the way your Windows interacts with the visual effects and how these effects can play a role in slowing down your computer's performance.
Windows XP's visual effects center can be set to three main ways. The first one is when you are sure of your computer's capabilities and want to enjoy the most visual effects by setting the level to the maximum. The second option is when you prefer to have a faster running machine than having visual beauty and the third one is when you want to select something in between. For example, you want to select your own customized visual preferences for your computer.
Please begin by pressing Start on your taskbar and opening the Control Panel.

After entering the Control Panel, please select the System icon. (You must be in the classic Control Panel view for this)

When the System Properties window pops up, please select the Advanced tab.

As you can see, since we are now concerned with Windows' performance, continue with exploring the Performance section by pressing the Settings button.
The Performance Options window will appear and as the name applies, this is the exact place we were just talking about. You are provided with many options in defining the way the items, files and folders are shown on your screen while dealing with them.
If not already opened, please select the first tab of Visual Effects. As you can see, there are four main options available and a list of several checkboxes present in a small window.

By default, Windows automatically selects the first option, meaning that it has full control and is free to select the way visual effects and elements are applied to your computer's settings.

The second option is for the folks with powerful computers and the ones wanting to enjoy the maximum visual beauty of the icons and items of their computers. When you select this option, all the option checkboxes are automatically selected.

The third option injects a sort of speed to your computer's performance by deselecting all the option checkboxes. Please note that by selecting the third option, you might experience a little bit of an "uglier" working environment, because your files and folders will not be displayed that much. Instead, you have pushed some energy pills to your computer's CPU and RAM since a load has been removed from their back.

Finally, the fourth option allows you to select the options the way you like and prefer. In fact, it's a sort of personalizing your overall computer's visual behavior.

So, as you have observed, you have successfully reached the part of your Windows XP that is related to the way of displaying your computer's items and you now know that in addition to boosting your computer's RAM and CPU power physically through the upgrading of your computer's hardware parts, there is a small inner place in your computer that you can access to help speed things up a little. Cool, huh?!