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Highlight ACTIVE window

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John Barkman
1 discussion post
A standing gripe of mine is that current versions of Windows make it hard to tell which window is active. For some applications I can switch back to Windows Classic and have, say, a green title bar for active windows, and a tan one for inactive. That I can tell apart. But MS Office insists on using their own very limited set of colors, which are very hard to tell active from inactive. For a moment I thought I had found a solution, your "highlight window" feature. But, alas, it does not seem to change when a window loses focus. Did I miss a way to do this? Or should this be a feature request?

Thanks,

John
Apr 9, 2014  • #1
Alan Wade's profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Until Jon has time to answer your question. What I use is WindowFX5 from Stardock, that allows me to customise the "inactive" windows in a few ways making then easier to see which has and which hasnt got the focus.
Apr 10, 2014  • #2
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
@John: It's not currently possible, but we'll definitely put it on our feature request list and let you know if we're able to implement it in a future version.

@Alan: Thanks for posting that suggestion, hopefully it helps John!
Apr 10, 2014  • #3
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Chris295
3 discussion posts
This seems to be a very popluar request.
I too have requested something similar via mail (to set the opacity different for the active and the inactive windows).

I think there is only a little thing missing to get what we want:
If we could get a 'trigger' event whenever the active window changes
we could script functions to set the highlight or change the opacity :)
Dec 12, 2014  • #4
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Interesting thought! We'll see if that's something we can add to the scripting capability
Dec 12, 2014  • #5
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Collin Chaffin
57 discussion posts
I second that if we could get eventing in the API, that would open a whole new world for many things for the "active window" automatically without need for hotkey or titlebutton! I put in another API request/ideas on another post to Jon as well!
Collin Chaffin's profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Dec 22, 2014  • #6
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
I have 4 monitors on Windows 7 at home, and 4 monitors on a Mac at work. Knowing which window has focus is the biggest difficulty for me with multiple monitors. I find myself clicking many extra unnecessary times before I start typing to make sure the typing will go to the window I'm looking at and the mouse is over. I have deleted files, sent empty emails, and taken many screenshots of the wrong window because my keystrokes went to the wrong window.

I see 3 approaches to solving this, there may be more.

1. Ensure the window under the mouse is the window with focus. If you move the mouse over a different window, that new window gets the focus. This way, you know that if you see the mouse over the same window, you can start typing. Windows actually has a setting to do this under 'accessibility', and it does not solve this problem well. It seemed like it was going to work, but caused huge problems during certain pop-ups. So, this approach is no good.

2. Put some sort of border around the window with focus. On my Windows machine I use a program called Sandboxie. Sandboxie runs a program in a sandbox, so when you close it everything that program has modified is deleted and reset back to where you were. That part is not important, though. What is important is that Sandboxie puts a yellow border around its window when it has focus. I watch movies in Sandboxie just because I know if I see the yellow border, my keystrokes will control the movie, and not screw with my emails, which I frequently check while I'm watching movies. If Sandboxie can do it for its own window, can Display Fusion manage this for all windows?

3. Work at the monitor level instead of the window level, because if I know I'm looking at the right monitor it's pretty easy to know which window has focus. This is not always true, but often it is true, and this solution, while not perfect, would be a big help.

I tried Actual Multiple Monitors (I think it was) which had an option to gray all the windows that were not in focus. While this sounded like a good solution on paper, it was actually pretty irritating because it took a few seconds to do the graying even with an i7 (apparently it took a lot of resources), and the contents of some of the Windows got screwed up with the graying (moire patterns, or odd pixelization). So this turned out to be a not-very-good solution. Good on paper, bad in execution.

The Sandboxie solution seems to me to be the best solution. Just put a noticeable border around the window with focus, even if it is windowed, maximized, or full-screen.
Oct 3, 2015 (modified Oct 3, 2015)  • #7
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
We're actually working on function triggers as we speak, which should make it possible to highlight a window when it gets focus. I'll be sure to let you guys know when it's available to try out :)

Thanks!
Oct 7, 2015  • #8
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
I am very happy to hear that. Thanks for the reply and the good news.
Oct 8, 2015  • #9
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Chris295
3 discussion posts
happy too - and thanks for keeping us informed
Oct 8, 2015  • #10
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
How are the developments going on this topic? Any idea when we might see something?
Oct 23, 2015  • #11
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
With any luck, the triggers will be in the next beta
Oct 23, 2015  • #12
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Dash1
3 discussion posts
Hello, any update about the beta free version trial including window hovering features? Thank you.
Dec 6, 2015  • #13
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Not exactly sure what you're requesting. Could you clarify?
Dec 7, 2015  • #14
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Dash1
3 discussion posts
We are interested in a feature where mouse hovering over a selected window brings it into focus and the respective taskbar icon depresses or highlites making it quick to locate. Another program, has the feature and includes a hover time delay option. I thought you mentioned in the thread it might be in your beta release and if any confirmed update?
Dec 7, 2015  • #15
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Sorry for the confusion. This thread is about function triggers, and not related to the other thread where your feature was requested.

We don't have an ETA on the functionality you're looking for at the moment, but if we do implement it in the future, we'll post in that thread.

Which reminds me, Triggers are available in DisplayFusion 8.0 Beta 1. They replace the Window Location feature in the Settings window :)

Thanks!
Dec 7, 2015  • #16
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
Keith, what is the functionality you are talking about?

With the beta, can I tell DF to put a highlight around the window that has focus, or indicate it in some other way?

To the other poster, the "give window under mouse the focus" is already available in Windows. I tried it, and it was not usable, but you might like it.
Jan 5, 2016  • #17
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
@welsh: You can do this now! On the Settings > Functions tab, download one of the "Highlight Window" scripts (i.e. "Highlight Window Red") and save it.

Then on the Settings > Triggers tab (8.0 Beta 2 and higher), create a new Trigger rule, using the Event "Window Focused." In the Actions pane, add the "Run Function" action, and choose the script from the first step :)
Jan 6, 2016  • #18
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
That's great news. Any idea when version 8 will be out of beta and into production? I'm trying to decide if I should try the beta, or not. If production is a week away, then I'll wait.
Jan 6, 2016  • #19
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
We're pretty early in the cycle, so it will likely be at least a couple of months before 8.0 is released
Jan 6, 2016  • #20
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
I thought I would try this now on DF 8.1.1. I downloaded the script and created the trigger. It says I need a 'match'. I just picked 'text' and left it blank.

This seems to do what I want (red line around the active window) except the red line doesn't go away when I click to another window.

Do I need another trigger or something to clear the red line when I click away?
Nov 27, 2016 (modified Nov 27, 2016)  • #21
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
It looks like the script doesn't remove old highlights when it runs. Could you try the attached script code instead?
• Attachment: Highlight Window Red.txt [758 bytes]
Nov 29, 2016  • #22
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
Seems to do the trick...

Just what I wanted!

I'll have to give it a week to be sure there are no odd side-effects, but this looks perfect.

Thanks Keith.
Nov 29, 2016  • #23
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Excellent, glad to hear it!
Nov 29, 2016  • #24
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
This has really improved my Windows experience on 4 monitors. I no longer have to click the window I want to start typing in, because now I can just see if it's red-trimmed, and the focus is on the correct window, or not.

Just one little tweak request though ... I get a notification pop-up from the systray every time I switch windows. Is there any way to suppress this script from generating a pop-up? I'd prefer to do it in DF instead of telling Windows to ignore DF notifications.
Dec 1, 2016 (modified Dec 1, 2016)  • #25
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
There sure is! In the DisplayFusion Settings > Advanced Settings, enable the "General: Don't show tray icon notification balloons" option
Dec 1, 2016  • #26
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welsh rarebit
17 discussion posts
Beautiful. Thank you KEITH!
Dec 2, 2016  • #27
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Keith, I'm trying to follow your reply (#18 in the discussion) about how to implement this highlight active window. I think you are assuming that everyone knows DF inside and out. Your instructions are either incomplete, or not accurate due to updates. None of the "click here's" or "add to's" etc..... seem to work.

Can you please offer a detailed step by step on how to do this. You can either reply via email or on-screen.

Just fyi..... the same scenario as indicated, occurs in many of your other replys to people as well. While the functions and possibilities are endless... the chances to screw something up is equally endless. I'm afraid to touch anything!!!

Thanks.....
Jim
Jan 10, 2018  • #28
Alan Wade's profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Jim, see if this helps.

Download the script from post #22 and open it in notepad.
Open the DisplayFusion settings window by right clicking on a secondary monitor's taskbar and choosing Settings.

Click on the Functions tab on the left and then select Add Scripted from the top, a new window will open.
Give the script a name and a description then paste the script into the large window making sure you overwrite all the text in there then click OK.(see screenshot).

You should now see the script you just created in the main window under Scripted Functions (see screenshot).
Click on the Triggers tab on the left.
Make sure Trigger is enabled is checked at the top and in the dropdown under Event select Windows Focused.
The Frequency should be Always and under Match Conditions check Process Filename. In the Application box enter *.* then under Actions on the right select Add at the bottom. (See ScreenShot).

In the dropdown that opens select Run Function (screenshot) then click on the dropdown and scroll to your script. (See screenshot).
OK your way out of all the open windows and test your script is running .
• Attachment: #01.jpg [166,274 bytes]
• Attachment: #02.jpg [222,515 bytes]
• Attachment: #03.jpg [103,368 bytes]
Jan 10, 2018 (modified Jan 10, 2018)  • #29
Alan Wade's profile on WallpaperFusion.com
More Screenshots
• Attachment: #04.jpg [53,864 bytes]
• Attachment: #05.jpg [121,225 bytes]
Jan 10, 2018  • #30
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Alan.... I was able to get it to box one screen. When I changed monitors to any of three, I get a 'color' selector box pop up. I click on that box twice, it goes away temporarily. Immediately comes back with mouse movement, or selecting anything, anywhere.
I can't do anything. I then have to disable
the function again, to regain control of my
computer.

I wish it worked..... but it doesn't for me.

Thanks.....
Jim
• Attachment: color pick box.pdf [23,615 bytes]
Jan 11, 2018  • #31
Alan Wade's profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Quote:
Alan.... I was able to get it to box one screen. When I changed monitors to any of three, I get a 'color' selector box pop up. I click on that box twice, it goes away temporarily. Immediately comes back with mouse movement, or selecting anything, anywhere.
I can't do anything. I then have to disable
the function again, to regain control of my
computer.

I wish it worked..... but it doesn't for me.

Thanks.....
Jim


I followed my instructions from scratch and it worked as its supposed to, no doubt one of the BFS team will sort it out for you.

Sorry
Alan
Jan 11, 2018 (modified Jan 11, 2018)  • #32
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
@Alan: Thanks for adding the detailed steps!

@Jim: Could you attach a backup of your settings? I'll restore them on a test machine here, fix up the Triggers/Scripts, and send you an updated backup that you can restore on your system. To export your settings:

  • Open the DisplayFusion Settings window
  • On the Options tab, click the Export Settings button
  • Choose a folder to save the settings file in
  • When you reply to this post, click Choose File in the Attachments section, and choose the file that you created in step 3
Thanks!
Jan 11, 2018 (modified Jan 11, 2018)  • #33
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Keith....here you go. DF Settings backup.

Thanks.....
Jim
• Attachment [protected]: DisplayFusion Backup (2018-01-11 @ 10-24, 9.1.0.0, JJPK0WLTY).reg [272,216 bytes]
Jan 11, 2018  • #34
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Ok, here you go!

  • Save the file attached to this post (click the "Settings-Updated.reg" link below this post) to your computer.
  • On the DisplayFusion Settings > Options tab, click "Import Settings"
  • Choose the file and click OK.
• Attachment: Settings-Updated.reg [288,024 bytes]
Jan 11, 2018  • #35
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Keith....followed your instructions. Had to click "Restore"... there wasn't any "Import" button to click.
Nothing happened. No boxed screen. I then turned off Display Fusion and restarted......... still nothing.

Let me know if there is anything else I can try.

Thanks....
Jim
Jan 11, 2018  • #36
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Keith..... I actually had to disable the Function again. The settings caused problems.
Two that I could see immediately..... there may have been others, but the two were game breakers for me.

1. The changes prevented me from "right-clicking" on the programs in my menu bar and getting the short-cut to a 'pinned list' of recently opened spreadsheets, doc, pdf's...etc...etc...

2. We run Lotus Notes on our computers, I have that opened on my main monitor, with the main Notes screen on the left side of the monitor, and the Notes Email, on the right half. With the Highlight Active Window function Enabled, it would only allow me to access one of these 'half-screens'.... the Email side. I was not even able to switch (Alt-Tab) to the main database listing of Notes.

Sure would like for this to work, but it can't cause problems. A simple box around/bordering the screen I am active in is all that is needed.

Thanks........
Jim
Jan 11, 2018  • #37
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Ok, it's definitely not perfect and sounds like it's not well suited to your usage case. If we are able to make it more reliable and turn this into a fully fledged feature in the future, we'll definitely let you know.
Jan 12, 2018  • #38
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Quote:
Ok, it's definitely not perfect and sounds like it's not well suited to your usage case. If we are able to make it more reliable and turn this into a fully fledged feature in the future, we'll definitely let you know.


Thanks for trying!! I'm not sure what the problem is. I tried it on my home pc last night, and it appeared to work as designed. So the problem has to do with a pc configuration setting somewhere on my work pc.

Both are running Win7 Professional. The most apparent, upfront difference, is the home pc only has two monitors (2 x 24"), while the work pc has 3 (3 x 27"). I didn't try the home pc with Lotus Notes running, but the work pc almost always has Notes running.

Thanks again for trying!! Hopefully you can come up with something down the road.

Regards.....
Jim
Jan 12, 2018  • #39
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Keith......Just to follow up on my previous post. The highlight windows does work on my home pc with only 1 issue. The boxes around the windows works fine, but I still don't have access to my "pinned" lists on the taskbar. When I disable the highlight windows in DF settings and apply, the pinned lists return.

Regards....
Jim
Jan 13, 2018  • #40
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Ok, try restoring these attached settings then
• Attachment: Settings-Updated-2018-01-16.reg [293,590 bytes]
Jan 16, 2018  • #41
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Quote:
Ok, try restoring these attached settings then :)


Keith, WOW!! I think you've got it!! So far, everything appears to work great. Active window is highlighted, pinned lists are accessible. Haven't run into any hitches yet. I'll try it on home pc tonight (or maybe tomorrow night)...... I'm pc'd out right now.

Thanks for hanging on to this and continued efforts. Very much appreciated.

Regards.....Jim
Jan 16, 2018  • #42
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
No worries, glad to hear it!
Jan 17, 2018  • #43
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Quote:
Quote:
Ok, try restoring these attached settings then :)


Keith, WOW!! I think you've got it!! So far, everything appears to work great. Active window is highlighted, pinned lists are accessible. Haven't run into any hitches yet. I'll try it on home pc tonight (or maybe tomorrow night)...... I'm pc'd out right now.

Thanks for hanging on to this and continued efforts. Very much appreciated.

Regards.....Jim


Keith..... so after using this a day... I ran into some things I can't explain. There is something I do, or series of events (unknown), that causes this to stop functioning. The window stops being highlighted in red. I haven't nailed down the sequence of events that may be causing it, but still looking.

It's easy enough to fix when it stops working, just have to go to DF Settings, click on that 'trigger', then ENABLE... APPLY... then OK. It starts back again.

If I'm able to narrow down the sequence of events causing it to stop working I'll let you know. Still love the feature though.

Thanks.....
Jim
Jan 18, 2018  • #44
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Sounds good, if you can figure out the steps that cause it to happen that would be great!
Jan 18, 2018  • #45
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Jim Jaquess729974
12 discussion posts
Quote:
Sounds good, if you can figure out the steps that cause it to happen that would be great!


Keith... I have watched this closely for several days now. I'm not able to figure out a pattern that causes it to become non-functional. If you have just a couple of different windows open and switch between the two, there is no problem. But sometimes clicking on a link or shortcut, causes another window to open, which that operation can cause again, another window to open. Somewhere in that process, the failure occurs. That said... sometimes it will start working at some point down the road without doing anything to re-enable it.

There is another function in DF, called Monitor Fading. This only highlights the 'inactive' monitors, but it seems to keep up nicely when you change monitors. So, if you could set up something like this... only with the Red Outline on the 'active' monitor, I think it would work great. That way there is much less for DF to track than switching with the active 'window'.

Just my 2cents worth.....

Thanks......
Jim
Jan 23, 2018  • #46
Keith Lammers (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Ok, thanks Jim! I have put that on our feature request list
Jan 23, 2018  • #47
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