Appearances can sometimes look and behave like a Theme because the visual changes they apply are so widespread. And while it might seem like splitting hairs, they are indeed two different features. Although both can have a dramatic impact on the overall look of Windows, Appearances focus mostly on colors, whereas Themes are likely to change fonts, buttons, and so on. The Windows XP Theme, for example, can take on several different Appearances, from the default neon blue to silver to green. The Windows Classic Theme, on the other hand, doesn't let you change colors so readily.
Here's how to change the appearance of Windows XP:
You can also use the Appearance tab to configure the effects used when displaying windows and doing things like opening menus and tooltips. Click on the Effects button to display options for these effects, as shown in Figure 5-3. For example, you can choose to scroll or fade menus, and you can decide whether to use shadows under menus.
Figure 5-3. Configuring Appearance effects.
If using a laptop computer, I highly recommend you use ClearType to smooth the edges of screen fonts. The ClearType feature alone is often ample reason to switch to XP on a laptop. The fonts are much more, well, clear.