How To Keep a Window Always On Top in Windows 10
No operating system has every feature, but there’s one essential feature missing from Windows 10: the ability to lock windows in the “top layer” of your desktop, displayed over everything else.
This feature is useful in many ways, from copying information manually between windows, to keeping content open when you need it on your screen, or keeping your video chat open while working on a project. You can watch a movie in the background of your computer while working on other projects, or you can keep your file browser on top of your web browser or word processor to always have access to your content.
No matter how you want to work, keeping windows on top is essential to boosting productivity. Unfortunately, Windows 10 excludes that feature, but you can easily add it to your PC using third-party software. For Mac users, see how to keep a window on top in MacOS.
How Do I Force a Window to Stay On Top in Windows 10?
Option #1: Use AutoHotKey with Custom Scripting
AutoHotkey is a free, open-source (GNU GPLv2) program that allows you to write custom scripts or use plugin scripts from other people to help you create macros on your computer.
The app is widely used and highly recommended, and its uses range from gaming to changing the direction of your mouse scroll.
If you’re looking to pin windows to your desktop, you can do so easily with AutoHotkey, although it’s worth noting that you’ll have to create the script by writing code manually. If you’re looking for something that comes prewritten, we would suggest sticking to the Always On Top application, which effectively comes as a pre-packaged AutoHotkey script. Some more technically inclined Windows users might prefer the customized scripting options available with AutoHotkey.
Here are the steps on how to get going with AutoHotkey:
- Download and install AutoHotkey if you don’t have it already.
- Create a folder where you can hold your hot key script along with any others you may make in the future. I named mine Hot Keys. (Right click on your desktop and select New and Folder)
- In the folder, Right-click and choose New and then AutoHotKey Script.
- Now right-click on that file and choose Edit Script.
- Type or paste the following onto the bottom of the file: ^SPACE:: Winset, Alwaysontop, , A
- Save the file by clicking on File and the Save at the top of the window or you can press CTRL + s.
- If your file icon matches mine, right-click on the file and select Run Script. And you’re done. Just press CTRL + SPACE on whatever window you want to stay on top.
- If it does not match mine, when you right-click, choose Open with and Choose another app.
- Find the app AutoHotkey Unicode 64-bit and check the box labeled Always use this app to open .ahk files. After you press OK, the file icon should look like a purple “H”.
- Now run the script and you’re all finished.
The “^” character represents the Ctrl key, and “SPACE” represents the space bar, creating a Ctrl + [Space] hotkey. You can also use “#” to represent the Windows key if preferred. Click Save.
Auto Hotkey does provide more customization than you’d otherwise get from Always On Top, but it’s also more work to use on your PC.
Option #2: Use DeskPins
DeskPins has been around for years, since the days of Windows XP, and it still gets used today to place window pins on the PC. As a Free or Open Source Software (FOSS) program, you can easily use DeskPins on any computer. Here’s how to use it.
- Download and install Deskpins using the Windows 10-specific installer
- Double-click or right-click and select ‘Open‘ on deskpins.exe to run the program on your computer.
- Deskpins works a little bit differently than the script versions of Always On Top and AutoHotkey. Click the icon in your taskbar, and the mouse icon turns into a small, red pin.
- Instead of using a keyboard shortcut, you’ll need to pin your program by clicking on the top portion of a desktop window.
- A small red pin icon will appear in the title bar of the pinned window to show its status.
- To unpin the window, click the pin icon to turn the option off.
- Optional: You can still minimize and maximize the window when desired without losing the window’s “always-on-top” status.
DeskPins is just as easy to use as you might imagine, but there are two things you should be aware of when using it.
First, the program may not function on computers under administrative control, such as work or school PCs. Talk to your employer’s or school’s help desk or IT department for assistance on this matter, as they may have policies on what is permitted and whether or not they install it or let you handle it.
Second, the visual indicator is helpful, but for some, a keyboard shortcut is all they need to access this useful utility.
Ultimately, these three options represent the best methods for helping productivity and efficiency by pinning a window to the foreground in Windows 10.
Whether you’re looking to keep a video playing in the background, or you need to watch a file transfer while editing a photo in Photoshop, it’s super easy to use these programs to help you keep track of your content on the app.