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"Show Desktop" bug forces any program windows to be stuck "Always-on-top" RRS feed

  • Question

  • What I found under Windows 7, when you use the "Show Desktop" feature (I prefer the ⊞ Win + D shortcut) and then bring all windows back by using it again, some windows behave as if they're glued to the front of the z-order. What this means is, say, I have windows A B and C open, with focus on A, hit ⊞ Win +D twice, and now it may happen that if I then want to switch to B or C, either by Alt+Tab or by selecting them on the taskbar, the taskbar shows the highlight, but A stays visible (and usable, it's not just a rendering issue) in the foreground.

    Imagine the following situations, all three windows cascading and overlapping:

    A (focus)
    B
    C

    -> ⊞ Win + D

    Desktop (focus)

    -> ⊞ Win + D

    A (focus)
    B
    C

    -> click C on taskbar

    A
    C (focus)
    B

    -> click B on taskbar

    A
    B (focus)
    C

    And so on. Focus means actual input focus, i.e. in second situation, any keyboard typing is sent to window B while window A is in the foreground.

    It does not matter what kind of application; in my current case an instance of Outlook and an instance of Explorer is stuck, while a second instance of Explorer and an instance of Firefox behave normally. This should show that this problem can occur even between multiple instances of the same application, and that there are no fancy applications involved that like to pretend they are the most important program and internally force "always on top".

    Showing and unshowing the desktop again doesn't help; in the worst case another window might end up with the "glued to the top of the z-order" too. Between those, I can easily switch, but in order to get a window which still behaves normally on top, I have to manually minimize the offending windows.

    The only cure seems to close the offending windows so far, I've not found anything else that helps.

    Could it be that Windows 7 has a bug that can force an ALWAYS_ON_TOP flag onto some windows when restoring from "Show Desktop", or am I doing something wrong?

    -

    More information from another user:

    I use win+d. Issue easy to replicate, Win7-64bit-Ultimate.

    The affected windows (any program) seem to be placed into a separate "Z" group. You can place multiple/many windows into this always-on-top state, those in the affected state will function normally in relation to each other with the exception that: - The group as a whole is always-on-top of any non-affected window - The whole group is on top of the taskbar. - The whole group does not respond to (context on taskbar) "cascade windows" or similar commands.

    The fact that the affected windows are on top of the taskbar and otherwise function as "special windows" shows that windows 7 has a hidden "feature" of always-on-top that gets applied with Win+D. The feature appears to place windows in a super window state that is on top of the taskbar. The normal group remaining behind the taskbar. (When you click the start menu or context menu of the taskbar, the start menu/taskbar comes to the foreground of the always-on-top group, however this does not revert the affected windows, only a temporary takeover until you switch to something other than the start menu/taskbar)

    This is key to finding an answer. How do we get windows to unassign the special status or not do the assignment in the first place?




    Wednesday, May 16, 2012 4:11 PM

All replies

  • It seems that I can't reproduce what you mentioned. I always use "Win+D", and it seems that I didn't notice any strange issues.

    For example, I have opened the following:
    A. Notepad
    B. Outlook
    C. Windows Explorer

    Could you please let me know how I should reproduce your issue? And what is expected to see?

    Thanks for your time.


    Thanks
    Zero

    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:00 AM
  • It appeared to have cleared by closing all windows and restarting. Initially I could not reproduce the error, then after opening all my working windows, I did indeed reproduce it on any window.

    I almost think it could be initialized with something to do with multiple windows of Chrome, and then the show desktop problem will crop up once one window has it. This was because: After messing around some more with a chrome session saver (session buddy) and restoring sessions and getting the super state, I restored and closed the window I was in and now I am again at a place where I can not reproduce the error, even in my "work environment" with some 35 chrome tabs in two windows, plus other programs, file locations, remote desktops and a second chrome profile with another dozen tabs.

    So, back to square one with finding the actual instigator of the super state phenomenon.


    Once you actually have the super sate issue, the following will reproduce:
    Ok, I am doing this as I type it:

    Open chrome (to view this website), then Notepad, then Calculator, (could be any windows, but for the purpose of demonstration, follow along with me)

    The windows should function normally, overlap your windows so that you can see the edge of all windows and the Z-order is (from front to back):the browser on top, then the calculator, then Notepad (you should be able to see part of the background windows).

    Now, with the browser on top, press win+d, then win+d again.

    Click on Calculator, then your browser, your browser is now stuck in the foreground. Clicking on notepad will bring the focus to notepad, and it will be in front of the calculator, yet it will stay behind the browser, as your browser is in "super state". (many arrangements of switching focus after returning from win+d will create the problem, with the exeption of clicking the desktop, I also noticed that I could not get calculator into super state unless it overlapped my chrome browser).

    Again, this does not seem to work until at least one of your windows is affected. We do not know how to get the initial window, only subsequent ones.

    I will post back if I find anything else.

    Let me know if there is anything that develops.

    Monday, May 21, 2012 7:21 PM
  • Wow that is a lot to read, when i thought that the problem was more simple.
    I will have to see if the show_desktop thing has anything to do with it, it could be the thing I am missing in the scenario.
    Edit: i have not used Show_desktop now for months on end, and the window problem still cropps up.

    Here i have programs that Are "always on top", like the playing video, plus on average 10 windows open doing different things.
    Out of the blue some windows never designated for "always on top", or pinned to top, or that even has "always on top" options, decides to be stubborn and just start being on top, or more than one.  I have to revert to minimising them, to get to other windows. (none of them are full screened or maximised usually).


    It also can even happen with "sidebar" gadget items, which will decide to get on top of things.

      Reboot always fixes it.  For me it is just one more little bug that occurs that i had never seen (using the same and similar programs) in windows XP.

    to reproduce it, start really working your computer :-)  Get 10-15 things going not 3.

    EDIT: One of the window tricks I get is like this. All the windows are "normal" windows, no On-Top designations.  I have to select a different window/program, then back to the window I wanted to come foreward, to get the one window foreward.  it did not come foreward when selected the first time. but once unselected and reselected it does.  Usually this is occuring after opening other programs, that did open foreward.   The programs in that situation are often a mix of 64bit and 32bit programs.  The occurance is random. 

    I get some refresh fun going on from time to time too, that makes the new desktop interface a real joy too.
    EDIT: Most of the weird window refresh problems i do not have anymore, some programs replaced, and some system tweaks made, going back to classic.



    • Edited by psycogeec Monday, April 1, 2013 11:53 AM
    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:04 AM
  • I think this would be related with the code, and this may consider as a known issue, and so far no fix for this. Thanks.

    Thanks
    Zero

    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 1:09 PM
  • This issue of windows becoming always-on-top has been a tremendous problem for me since I started using Windows 7 three or more years ago. I recently ran across the Show Desktop connection to this problem. I use this feature a lot. I have Firefox stuck on top a lot with 15 to 20 sites open. I have to save all of the URL's to a document, close Firefox, reopen Firefox and reopen all the sites ... only to have to do it again a bit later.

    I found this WORKAROUND on a forum this morning:

    Kill and restart the Explorer. I'm waiting for another stuck window so I can try this. This is a less than optimal workaround, but it is far better than killing your app and restarting whatever you were doing.

    DRAWBACK: I believe this workaround will leave all of your apps running just fine, but it will probably result in the loss of any open folders. This in often inconvenient, as well.

    NOTE: I do not believe this issue is related to Chrome. I do not use Chrome. I wonder if the person who thinks it might be Chrome is think this because he/she is using Chrome so much of the time. This is exactly what I did. I suspected Firefox because it was almost always the FIrefox window that got stuck. Then I realized that I always have Firefox open. It is an innocent victim that just happens to have focus much of the time. But this has happened to other apps as well as to desktop gadgets.

    Does anyone know how to get Microsoft's attention on this issue? Must I go to Change.org and start a petition? (Just kidding.)

    • Proposed as answer by gmontem Wednesday, November 26, 2014 8:26 PM
    Sunday, August 4, 2013 4:01 PM
  • This issue of windows becoming always-on-top has been a tremendous problem for me since I started using Windows 7 three or more years ago. I recently ran across the Show Desktop connection to this problem. I use this feature a lot. I have Firefox stuck on top a lot with 15 to 20 sites open. I have to save all of the URL's to a document, close Firefox, reopen Firefox and reopen all the sites ... only to have to do it again a bit later.

    I found this WORKAROUND on a forum this morning:

    Kill and restart the Explorer. I'm waiting for another stuck window so I can try this. This is a less than optimal workaround, but it is far better than killing your app and restarting whatever you were doing.

    DRAWBACK: I believe this workaround will leave all of your apps running just fine, but it will probably result in the loss of any open folders. This in often inconvenient, as well.

    NOTE: I do not believe this issue is related to Chrome. I do not use Chrome. I wonder if the person who thinks it might be Chrome is think this because he/she is using Chrome so much of the time. This is exactly what I did. I suspected Firefox because it was almost always the FIrefox window that got stuck. Then I realized that I always have Firefox open. It is an innocent victim that just happens to have focus much of the time. But this has happened to other apps as well as to desktop gadgets.

    Does anyone know how to get Microsoft's attention on this issue? Must I go to Change.org and start a petition? (Just kidding.)

    This bug has been bothering me for a few weeks now, and I have already restarted my system a few times already.  By the way, I'm using Windows 8.1 Pro so this bug is still around.

    I am glad your workaround (closing all explorer.exe processes) worked for me.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014 8:28 PM
  • All of a sudden this problem appeared on Windows 10 too. I'm familiar with it since Win7...

    Thursday, December 19, 2019 9:50 PM