Script Tips

Visually Appealing

Setting the visual effects options in Windows Explorer per user

A reader asks if there’s a way to set the "visual effects options" (in Windows Explorer) via a script. This is a tough one. The settings are controlled by various values in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\
Advanced in the registry, as well as by the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\
VisualEffects key. First of all, that means any script meant to affect multiple users will need to run as a log-on script, because that’s the only real way a script can access the "current user" section of the registry.

Some of the values are easy to modify, such as DropShadow and CursorShadow (take a look at this in RegEdit.exe and you’ll see what’s what quickly enough). Other values are more complicated, because each bit in the value controls a particular setting.

The best technique here is to configure a machine the way you want it, and try to copy the resulting value from the registry -- although be sure to test this, as it can have pretty nasty results in some instances, depending on the hardware capabilities of the machine you apply it to.

To actually affect the registry change, use the WshShell object ("WScript.Shell"), which provides RegWrite and RegRead methods for dealing with the registry.

About the Author

Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at

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