One of the first things I noticed when setting up my new ThinkPad was that the labels below icons on my desktop had solid background colors rather than being transparent as they are on OS X, which made them look terrible. Having been a Mac user since OS X was first introduced, I couldn’t stand the effect, so I started searching for a way to “fix” the OS. I downloaded the TweakUI Powertoy from Microsoft’s website, and although it provided me with some other interesting capabilities, making icon label backgrounds transparent was not one of them. To make a long story short, I ended up going to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced (tab) -> Performance Settings and checking “Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop”. I also checked several other options in that menu which has made working with Windows XP a little more aesthetically pleasing. It’s still no OS X, but at least it’s also no Windows 98.
May 7, 2004