How prevent Windows 7 from stealing focus?

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Help and Support' started by Commander_Cool, May 18, 2011.

  1. Commander_Cool

    Commander_Cool Senior Member

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    Hi,

    as stated in the subject, I wonder how to prevent windows from stealing focus from whatever your working on whenever some other running app, howvever unimportant, calls for attention?
    This focus-stealing drives me up a wall, and it's not helpful at all for keeping ones train-of-thought when, for instance, writing a mail.
    Instead, I get an instant urge to strangle billg or some other microsoftie for not fixing this bug (TweakUI used to fix this, but due to aforementioned bug, no more).

    Thankful for suggestions! :cool:

    worst.comic.guy.ever.bug.jpg
  2. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member Microsoft Community Contributor

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    This type of thing was happening if certain types of flash drives were plugged in....
  3. Commander_Cool

    Commander_Cool Senior Member

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    Well, that's not the case, but thanks.
  4. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member Microsoft Community Contributor

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    I do not believe it is a bug, but something you are running on your system. Where does the focus go? Any special toolbars or other software that might interfere with the desktop?
  5. Commander_Cool

    Commander_Cool Senior Member

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    The focus goes, as I said, to whatever application calls for attention for whatever reason, however trivial. Here:
    Applications stealing focus - reg key no longer fixes - Microsoft Answers
    is a discussion which adresses the issue.
    It is indeed an issue as a little googling will show.
  6. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member Microsoft Community Contributor

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    Give me one, or more, applications that is exhibiting the noted behavior? I might be able to see what they have in common or perhaps I can duplicate your situtaion. Why is it requiring attention...? Are these messages, or windows that open.

    Are you actually doing something when this happens, could it be a key sequence?

    The more details you can supply, the better chance of someone noticing something that might help.

    Do you have your mouse set to go to "snap to"?

    I'll do some more research, but perhaps you could check your setting in System Properties-Advanced-Performance-settings. Look on the Advanced tab ans see if you have Programs selected instead of Background services.
  7. Commander_Cool

    Commander_Cool Senior Member

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    Do you have your mouse set to go to "snap to"?

    Yes I did, and of course that compounds the problem as I risk pushing the wrong button with a mouse-click that was intended for the app I was working in before the dialog box popped up, and I have since unchecked this snap-to option.

    But dialog boxes still pop up, of course, whenever some app other than the one I'm currently working in requires my input, and I would like to not be disturbed like that as it is ruinous to whatever concentration I can muster for the task at hand.

    It is often a system process that requires attention this way or that. I grew up with television and as a result have a tiny little attention span.

    Like this; imagine that you are writing something with a pen on a sheet of paper on a desk in the real world, concentrating as best you can to get spelling, grammar and disposition right and suddenly another sheet is slipped on top of that one by an invisible hand, and suddenly you find yourself making the corrections and additions intended for the first sheet on the sheet that is now in focus. 'See what I mean, jelly bean?

    That's what throws me and wastes my time and sorely needed attention. I don't know if I have managed to explain the problem, but that's how I see it. There is a reason pop-up windows are called just that and why they annoy people - they steal focus from the thing you were doing just before in the advertisers hope that your attention will immediately shift to their sales pitch.

    It seems this focus-stealing business calls for a pop-up blocker for the OS itself ;)

    Here's a screen-shot to illustrate:
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/24/stealfocus3.jpg/
    Anyhoo, I am willing to let the matter rest for now as it is not that big a problem, just an annoyance. Thanks for bearing with me, though.
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  8. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member Microsoft Community Contributor

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    Ok, I see one instance of what is frustrating you. In this case, you were burning a DVD and a window popped up to tell you it was finished. I do not know if image burn has settings to stop that, but it did happen in XP also, right? Some notices are useful, but perhaps, as you state, they should not be of a immediate attention required type of thing.

    Have you noticed any difference in programs that were written more for use with Windows 7? I remember once complaining about pop-under windows where you were given alerts but you could not see them. They need to put a little box, maybe a Gadget that will alert you when an alert is trying to get your attention. The flashing icon on the Taskbar was not noticeable to me.

    Maybe something to try. I have no experience with it, so I do not know for sure it will keep the windows separate. But go to SysInternals, a Microsoft site, and download a utility called Desktops. It will allow you to open 4 desktops, I believe, so perhaps what is running on one desktop will not bother you on another. As I mentioned, I have not used it except to see how it works. But I think it is like the Linux version.

    Let us know if it helps.
  9. Commander_Cool

    Commander_Cool Senior Member

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    @Saltgrass:
    Ok, I see one instance of what is frustrating you. In this case, you were burning a DVD and a window popped up to tell you it was finished. I do not know if image burn has settings to stop that, but it did happen in XP also, right?

    Yes, to the best of my recollection it did though now it's been a while since I ran XP. You see one instance because that's all I could/had time to 'produce' at that moment.

    Have you noticed any difference in programs that were written more for use with Windows 7?

    Not really.

    Let us know if it helps.

    Well, what I have done is turn off AutoPlay; that seemed to help. A lot.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  10. TheOneTrueVlad

    TheOneTrueVlad New Member

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    I think there is some confusion here, steeling focus may well be prevented in Win7 but there are plenty of legitimate ways that windows can 'CLAIM' focus, all are repeatable. For example, I will be writing an email and know that when I've finished I want to use Adobe InDesign. So I click the taskbar icon for InDesign and it starts loading. This is going to take a while so I go back to the email and keep typing. At some point InDesign finishes loading and steals focus from the email I'm writing. You can swap pretty much any program into this scenario, like loading a song in Fruity loops. Takes ages to load all the wav files, so I carry on the conversion in some live chat program and suddenly I've changed the EQ levels for one of the channels in the song I was loading instead of telling my mate I'll be over in an hour for tea! I know that for many users this feature is what they want. But for me it is annoying. The worst case is loading a program that has shortcut keys that do serious things without an undo. I'll be happily typing away and the new program steals focus, I hit a critical shortcut key without realising it. A pop-up appears and asks if I'm sure I want to do this un-reversable action. Before I have realised what is happening I have hit the spacebar, which of course actions the highlight 'YES' I'm sure I want to do this stupid thing and some important document gets trashed and I need to spend ages fixing it. All these focus changing events are frustrating. I DO NOT WANT TO WASTE TIME WAITING FOR THINGS TO LOAD just because, if I try and do something else it might mess things up when the focus changes without my permission. I want to multi-task! What is the point of having a PC that can have multiple applications running if you have to do tasks one at a time? When I am ready to attend to the event that an application has flagged, I will attend to it, in the mean time I want to finish the original task that has MY focus. I am quite capable of choosing where my focus is without having a brainless application trying to second guess me! I am happy for the application to flash in the task bar to inform me that it wants attention, I do not want it interrupting me, for example, in the middle of a rant on a forum! I hope this clears up the misunderstanding some people here have, that we are moaning about something that doesn't happen or is rare. And hopefully someone will be able to provide a solution for the REAL problem being talked about.
  11. joulesbeef

    joulesbeef New Member

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    I have been begging MS since the early 90s to fix focus stealing. It isnt impossible, linux isnt half as bad.

    Sometimes it is worse when installing something. I cant recall what it was but just the other day it was frustrating me out of my mind.. it was something big like photoshop or something..vmware maybe.. either way it was going to take a while to install, so I went back to work.. which involves some chatting. What ever I was installing must have had to install a bunch of little programs or addons w/e and every single solitary time that a new install started I lose focus in chat, some of the programs were so small that I lost focus a couple of times.. Not one of those programs needed any interaction from me at all. There wasnt a continue button to hit.. it just stole focus and left me looking at the installer.

    I gave up on work.. I ended up calling the guy after several attempts to tell him why i wasnt responding.

    it is 2012 and hard to believe that MS hasnt fixed this yet. Though most of the time they just tell me "it is fixed".. NO NO IT IS NOT.
  12. Samu66el

    Samu66el Banned

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    The more details you can supply, the better chance of someone noticing something that might help.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  13. rmhutchins

    rmhutchins New Member

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    Windows XP has a utility program [Tweak UI] you can download from Microsoft which modifies the settings in Windows. One of these utilities allowed the user to change the internal Windows settings to allow or to NOT allow another program to steal focus. It was great! As you have noted, it is irritating to have a program steal focus right in the middle of typing something; and, then, wonder what command you executed when you hit the enter key on your keyboard -- which, instead of moving to the next paragraph on what you were typing, it executed a command in another program which popped up a window and stole the focus of your computer. I don't know if Windows 7 has a similar feature; I'd love to know about it if you find one.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  14. happydroid

    happydroid New Member

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    I encountered such an issue also, and it got me angry enough that I decided to write a simple tool just for this. It solved my problem and I'm sharing it : http://www.happydroid.com/focus

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