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 helpful 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 be Always on Top in Windows 10?

Always on top example for Windows 10

If you like a simple, ready-to-use application, DeskPins is your best option. However, AutoHotKey is the optimum way to keep some windows always on top for advanced users who prefer to use scripts.

If you have been researching this topic, you may have found articles mentioning an app called “Always on Top.” It was in here, too, at one time. This app also had scripting functions, but the “Always on Top” app is from 2016. The website does have a download URL, but it doesn’t appear on the website, which is questionable. This is only mentioned because numerous websites link to it and tell you to use it, but it has potential security risks. Some of those links are unsecured too.

Here are the best ways to pin a window on top in Windows 10.

Option #1: Use DeskPins

Image result for deskpins

If you’re looking for something that comes prewritten, it is best to stick with a freeware app called DeskPins, which effectively pins windows to always be on top until you close them or unpin them. Some more technically inclined Windows users might prefer the customized scripting options available with AutoHotkey, which you’ll find in the next section.

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 because it is simple, easy, and freeware. As a Free or Open Source Software (FOSS) program, you can easily use DeskPins on any Windows computer.

Here’s how to use DekskPins.

  1. Download and install Deskpins using the Windows 10-specific installer.
  2. Double-click or right-click and select Open on deskpins.exe to run the program on your computer.
  3. Click the icon in your taskbar, and the mouse icon turns into a small, red pin.
  4. Pin your window or program by clicking on the top portion of the window. A small, red pin icon appears in the title bar of the pinned window to show its status.
  5. To unpin the window, click the pin icon to turn the option off, or you can close the window.
How to keep a window always on top in Windows 10-3

DeskPins is just as easy to use as you might imagine, but there are a few 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: You can still minimize and maximize the window when desired without losing the window’s “always-on-top” status.

Option #2: 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.

Note: AutoHotkey has upgraded from v1.0 to 2.0, which changes script functionality. This article provides updated steps to work with v2.0.

Here are the steps on how to get going with AutoHotkey v2.0:

  1. Download and install AutoHotkey v2.0 if you don’t already have it.
  2. Launch AutoHotKey.
  3. In the Install mode: section, choose All users or Current user, then click Install.
  4. Right-click the Desktop and create a new folder (“AutoHotKey Scripts” in this example) to store your script(s).
  5. Return to AutoHotKey and select New script.
  6. In the top box, name your new script (“AlwaysOnTop” in this example).
  7. Click the folder icon next to the top box, then set the correct folder location (Desktop\AutoHotKey Scripts in this example). You should see “C:\Users\[username here]\Desktop\AutoHotKey Scripts” in the location box.
  8. Choose Minimal for v2.
  9. Click Create.
  10. If the file appears in Explorer, right-click it and choose Edit Script.
  11. Choose the editor as Notepad if prompted, then click OK.
  12. Below the existing text, paste the following script:
    ^space:: WinSetAlwaysOnTop "-1","A"
  13. Select File -> Save and exit Notepad.
  14. Double-click the file or right-click it and select Run script.
  15. If you have problems running the script, try running it as Administrator, but you shouldn’t have any issues.
  16. To place a window on top of other windows, select it and press the hotkey combination Ctrl + Space.
  17. To undo a window on top, select it and press Ctrl + Space once more.

You can place more than one window on top, but the last one selected will remain at the top until you undo its top status. Then, the second window that is set will remain at the top until you change it. This process can continue depending on how many windows you have selected to be on top.

Also, you can still minimize or close any window that stays on top.

The “^” character represents the Ctrl key, and “SPACE” means the space bar, creating a “Ctrl + [Space]” hotkey. You can also use “#” to represent the Windows key if preferred.

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.

Ultimately, DeskPins and AutoHotKey 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, pin a calculator or a notepad app while working on spreadsheets, or you need to watch a file transfer while editing a photo in Photoshop, it’s super easy to do with DeskPins and AutoHotKey. Do you have any experience pinning windows to the top in Windows 10? Let us know in the comment section below.

Note: This article is not a promotion for any particular application.

21 thoughts on “How To Keep a Window Always On Top in Windows 10”

mssucks says:
what if we don’t have access to install software? we’re have to constantly switch windows?!
Steve Larner says:
If you don’t have internet, you have to just keep switching windows since there is no built-in pin functionality.
Grega Fajdiga says:
I downloaded Auto Hotkey v2 and tried your tip, but it said the script requires Auto Hotkey v1. I installed that version, and the script now works, but is there any way to port it to v2?
Steve Larner says:
The article has been updated to reflect the new “v2.0” release. Yes, the old script coding required v1.x. Now, the script uses different statements, such as changing “^SPACE:: Winset, Alwaysontop, , A” to “^space:: WinSetAlwaysOnTop “-1″,”A” in order to work. Thank you.
Sturgeon General says:
AHK is simple. For those who don’t want to maintain this program on their system (completely understandable), AHK also has extremely easy built in compiler that converts the .ahk file you create (or copy/download from many sites) into a .exe file. After that, just uninstall the AHK program and you now have yourself a stand alone program…in the instance of this article, you will now have ‘AlwaysOnTop.exe’
Rogerio says:
I already use Autohotkey so it was really easy.
viksha says:
desk pin is grate thanks man
nOrphf says:
Use Microsoft PowerToys, stable and from a trustworthy publisher
Francis Barresi says:
yes, why do we need another program to keep a window on top. I am forever chasing my windows and it cuts into my time and productivity. Please Microsoft, make it happen and maybe allow more flexibility so how consumer can have Widows that help them to work, not hinder it.
George Cooke says:
AHK works well for me, OBS Windowed view of recording and other apps tested!
Thanks SO MUCH for this quick and easy = elegant solution!
Fer says:
Thank you very much! Autohotkey works well for me
Olga Farber says:
thank you, very helpful!
Uni says:
Thanks for the effort to make this tutorial. AutoHotkey is just what I was looking for.
Natania says:
THANK YOU SO SO MUCH! Worked wonderfully! Got a bit confused at first, but woah. It ended up working like a charm! Simple. Efficient. Straightforward!

Thank you so much again! Much love. ?

Notputtinganamejustwantedtosaythanks says:
Eric says:
All these suck, where is just a simple pin on the title bar for heavens out loud! Microsoft is a failure of a company. Rather make apps that suck too…wtf.
Manuel says:
This is the best comment ever!! Agree 100%
shahab arvin says:
Agree 100%
Steve Larner says:
I use DeskPins all the time. It’s simple, small, and works great. Pin the calculator app, pin spreadsheets for comparisons, etc. I just right-click the taskbar icon, go into “Pin Mode,” and tap on the window I want to be pinned.
Jaywee says:
DisplayFusion has the option to put always-on-top button on all windows
Abir says:
When I downloaded the zip file of “Always on Top” tool using the provided link, it contained neither the exe file nor the readme file. Rather there was only an ahk file named “AlwaysOnTop.ahk”. My OS is windows 10
Kaneis says:
I know the article says the app is self-contained/portable, but the linked file has an .ahk extension which is what the second app, AutoHotKey, uses for its scripts. Perhaps they stopped making an .exe for this app? If you download AutoHotKey, this script should work with it. It’s fairly easy to use.
Thankfulguy says:
That was extremely light-weight and helpful, thanks a lot!
unfa says:
Argh. In KDE desktop environment on Linux I can just set any window to stayon top (or on bottom) and dozens other things.

I’ve learned to take such functionality for granted. But on Windows you need to install special software just to get that functionality accessible to the users.

I guess Linux has spoiled me…

Linus Torvalds says:
what a twat
Art Wang says:
Doesn’t work on Win 10.
Justin says:
Thank you so much. I just wanted the sticky notes app to stay on top of what I was typing so I could see my notes. Always on top works perfectly and is very simple.
Mike says:
Don’t use Turbotop with Windows 10. I know the article says it was updated, but it wasn’t. Doen’t work – EPIC FAIL!
hisajimah says:
“ALLWAYS ON TOP” does not seem to be displayed on the front of the full screen display application, why? (Example: When Youtube is displayed in full screen on Microsoft Edge)
Screenshot Help says:
can you show a screenshot of it.

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