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Help! My Windows Vista PC won't run the Aero theme

What to do when Aero won't run

A reader wrote in complaining that he couldn't get the Aero theme to run on his Windows Vista PC. Here's how to solve the problem.

QUESTION I have a 15-month-old HP G60 laptop running Windows Vista Home Premium SP2. I can select Windows Vista but not Windows Aero in the Theme Options menu. The Vista theme looks like a cross between Windows Vista and Windows Classic, with the Windows Vista Taskbar and Start menu, but stylings of the Classic theme. How can I access the Aero theme? William Bowles

HELPROOM ANSWER Although Windows Vista is configured to prevent this sort of thing happening, the situation you describe can occur if the files that make up the Aero theme are deleted or corrupted. However, because the preinstalled theme files come as part of the original installation of Vista, Windows considers them to be system files and includes a utility to help you repair them.

This utility is called System File Checker, and needs to be run from a command prompt using an administrator account. Type cmd into the Start menu Search box. An icon called 'cmd' or 'cmd.exe' should appear in the search results. Right-click on this icon and select 'Run as Administrator' to open up the command window. If you've done this correctly, you'll see the word 'Administrator' in the top left-hand corner.

To run the System File Checker utility, type SFC /SCANNOW and hit Enter.

This process may take several minutes, depending on the speed of your PC. With any luck, this procedure will have recreated the necessary Aero theme files for you.

Log out of your account or restart the PC. On the next login you'll be able to access the Windows Aero theme.

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