How to Find & Recover an Off-Screen Window in Windows 10

In theory, you should never lose an open window off the edge of your screen. It should go so far and then offer to go full screen, but it should not disappear altogether. However, this is Windows, and strange things can happen.

How to Find & Recover an Off-Screen Window in Windows 10

One way this happens that isn’t Microsoft’s fault is if you use multiple monitors. If one monitor goes offline while windows were on it, they are missing in action. Should anything happen to that other monitor, you have more to worry about than a missing window, but you may need to get it back before you can tackle the problem.

Thankfully, there are methods to recover an off-screen window that should work if you lose a monitor. Some will also work if it’s a Windows or application problem causing the issue. This tutorial will walk you through recovering an off-screen page in Windows 10 should it happen to you.

Recovering an Off-Screen Window

We are so used to the drag and drop nature of Windows that when we cannot drag something where we want it, we can quickly become lost. There are other ways to achieve your goals, but it may take a second or some research to remember or discover them.

Of course, if you’ve lost a screen in Windows 10 due to monitor failure, you should always try to first disconnect the cables and reconnect. That is the easiest and most effective fix so start there. You should also check that the power source is connected properly. Often, these simple solutions can save you a lot of time.

Unfortunately, if you restart the application, it will likely reappear in the same part of the desktop that you’re unable to access. If this is the case, try the following steps to quickly and easily get back to work.

Here are a few ways to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10:

Using the Taskbar to Recover a Window

This one seems to be fairly simple and effective. Assuming the application or program is already open (go ahead and open it if not).

  1. Simply right-click on the program’s icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.
  2. From the small pop-up select Move and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to walk the program back into view. Unfortunately, if you’re unsure where this window is you’ll have difficulty knowing which way to move it. If that’s the case, keep reading. There are more solutions available.

Cascade Windows

The easiest way to locate an off-screen window is to use the desktop arrangement settings in Windows 10. Most often used to arrange multiple windows on a desktop, it can also be useful in this situation.

  1. To start, right-click on the Windows 10 Taskbar and select Cascade windows. Windows Taskbar
  2. If Windows has detected that the other monitor is not working, the lost window should snap into position on your remaining monitor. You could also use stacked or side by side if you prefer. They all achieve the same thing. Windows Taskbar 2

Using a Keyboard Shortcut to Recover a Window

If you use two monitors at home but take your laptop with you, this may be a constant issue for you. Knowing the right keyboard shortcuts will save you time and the headache of searching for off-screen documents, web pages, and programs.

There is a keyboard shortcut for almost every element of Windows, and this is no exception. If you lose a window, you can trigger the move cursor to bring it back. It takes a few seconds but achieves the same goal.

  1. Press Alt + Tab to select the missing window.
  2. Press Alt + Space + M to change the mouse cursor to the move cursor.
  3. Use the left, right, up or down keys on your keyboard to bring the window back into view.
  4. Press Enter or click the mouse to let the window go once recovered.

Alt + Tab is the keyboard shortcut that allows you to quickly toggle between open apps and windows. If you hold Alt and tap on the tab button, all of your open materials will appear in a list.

You can use the arrow keys to recover the window that way too. This will only work if you have taskbar buttons set to show on the main taskbar as well as where the window is open.

  1. Again, press Alt + Tab.
  2. Now, press the Windows key + the arrows key. It might vary which direction to hit, up, down, left, or right.

As mentioned by Sai in the comments, here’s another keyboard shortcut that might do you wonders.

  1. Again, press Alt + Tab to select the missing window.
  2. Now, press Alt + Space + X to recover the window.

There are many keyboard shortcuts on Windows, hopefully this one solver your problem. As always, thanks for sharing your insight in the comments.

Change the Screen Resolution to Recover a Window

You can change your screen resolution to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10. This resets your desktop and should bring the missing window back onto your main screen.

  1. Right-click on an empty space on your desktop and select Display settings.
    Windows Desktop Quick Menu
  2. Now, under Display resolution, select a different preset from the one that is set.

The Windows desktop should reset to the new resolution and your window should appear on your main desktop. Just reset the resolution back to its original setting once you have the window you want.

Change the Multiple Displays Settings

You can make Windows recognize a monitor has gone so that it brings back the missing window too if you prefer. As long as everything else is working okay, this should force the desktop to reset onto your main monitor.

  1. Again, right-click an empty space on your desktop and select Display Settings.
    Windows Desktop Quick Menu
  2. Now, select Detect to encourage Windows to see you have a monitor out of action.

If you lost a window because of monitor failure, this should bring everything back onto your main desktop. If it’s a graphics driver or other issue causing you to lose a window, this won’t necessarily work.

Using the Task Manager to Recover an Off-screen Window

The final way I know of to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10 is to use Task Manager. You can maximize all open windows which should bring the application back into focus.

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select Task Manager. You can also press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager directly.
  2. Now, search under the Processes tab and select the missing window.
  3. Once located, right-click it and select Maximize.
  4. Depending on the window that is missing, you may have to select Expand before you see Maximize. This seems to depend on whether it’s a Windows native app or something else. If you see Expand, select that, and then select Maximize.

Recovering Off-Screen Windows

As you can see, there are several ways to attempt to recover a lost off-screen window in Windows 10. As you probably already know, it’s best to start with the simple solutions and then work your way up to more cumbersome measures of recovery.

How did recovering your lost screen in Windows 10 go? Let us know in the comments below.

20 thoughts on “How to Find & Recover an Off-Screen Window in Windows 10”

Alfie says:
Thank you!
Sharon says:
Thank you so much! I “lost” my beloved Notepad bc I switched from two screens to a laptop – the first trick worked!
No Name says:
Very good. Helped me in getting a lost window.
Nate says:
Another option is to use the snap feature. If you drag any open window to the side of your screen till it snaps to split screen, your other open windows should show up tiled so you can choose which window to split the screen with, then you can choose the one that is off screen.
Shaun says:
Nate’s method is great, maybe the easiest of all those the author listed.
tim says:
Only this method worked for me thanks Nate!
Vincent Roman says:
Why didn’t you use the last solution first!!
Steve Larner says:
Most of the time, the other options solve the issue.
kray says:
Windows should be mature enough to handle these things by now, seriously this just should not be an issue at all for anyone.

My windows disappeared when I got out of fullscreen mode. The Alt-Tab to the app and Alt-Space-M, then the arrow key worked for me. Thanks so much for this.

NontechieTalk says:
You’d think, right?

Not to hijack this into a general rant on Windoze, but every time I try to connect my bluetooth headset, Windows promptly turns off bluetooth and I have to manually turn it on again. EVERY TIME. AND, while the system tray icon for OneDrive magically NEVER, EVER disappears, the Google Drive icon mysteriously disappears regularly….oh, look, I’ve got to manually bring it back right now. It’s a mystery!

But, back to topic, I consistently lose just one window – Evernote. Why only that one? A(nother) a Microsoft mystery. An entire season of X-Files could have been based on investigating MS BS.

At any rate, THANK YOU for helping me manually work around this problem that a multibillion dollar corporation keeps producing.

Ben says:
I had the same issue where I lost the extended screen. I unplugged the laptop last night to work somewhere else. When I came back to reconnect it, laptop screen is going black and the extended (2nd screen) has the display. Googling all over the place and couldn’t find solution. I looked closely on what is showing on the screen. It turned out when it was unplugged it, it lost the setting I had for extended. It defaulted or changed to display 2 only which is not the laptop. No wonder why the screen projects to display 2 and going black on laptop. Check you setting. Hopefully your issue is as simple as this.
adonios77 says:
There is an easier way:
1. Select the window (by mouse on Taskbar window button or Alt-Tab)
2. Hold “WindowsFlag” key in the keyboard (super key) and
move with direction buttons (arrows).
Jesse says:
Thank you
Mr. Biker says:
None of the above worked for me. One solution not mentioned that I often employ is – use a Mac.

Since that won’t fix the horribleness of Windows 10, here’s what did work for me – found this on another site:

Right click Task Bar.
Hover over the problem app. The missing window will show its thumbnail.
Hover over the thumbnail of the missing window and right-click.
Choose Move from the contextual menu.
Use your arrow keys to move the window back onto your screen or easier, just tap an arrow key once then move your mouse. The window will follow your mouse. That’s faster and easier than using the arrow keys to figure out just where the missing window is located.

Gabriel says:
Buy me one then
Shaun H Chen says:
This method works for almost every app, except for say, when Task Manager if missing off screen. It doesn’t give a right-click menu on the thumbnail.
Sai Abinesh says:
Doesn’t work.

Just doing alt + tab followed by alt + space + x solves the problem.

Len says:
Sai – that’s the winner! Thanks so much. What a headache. I use my laptop with a monitor at home. When I travel, programs I use sometimes end up off-screen as though they were on the absent screen. All the rest didn’t work. Your suggestion did. Many, many thanks. This is a minor but annoying headache of Windows.

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