Kevin Dente's Blog

The Blip in the Noise
New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center!

From time to time I find myself faced with a really annoying problem - a Windows application that has positioned itself offscreen. This usually happens for one of two reasons:

  1. A bug in the software. Sometimes things go terribly wrong, and the application, for lack of a better phrase, flips out. I just had this happen last week with Firefox - it would end up above and to the left of my screen (might have been a script or add-in, I'm not sure). Another common cause is an application that writes bogus data when trying to remember its screen position for the next time it's launched. Close it and relaunch, and bang, it's off-screen.

  2. Remote Desktop'ing into my multi-monitor desktop from my laptop. In that case, everything that was on the second monitor suddenly becomes off screen, and I need to move it back to the primary monitor in order to interact with it.

Now, Windows does provide a way to deal with this problem - by right-clicking on the item in the task bar, selecting Move, and using the keyboard (nicely described here). It works, but I always find it to be clunky and a bit flaky (sometimes it take a lot of keyboarding in just the right way to get the app to pop on screen). So I took a couple of hours and hacked together my own solution to the problem - a utility called "Front and Center!"

You can see a screen shot of the app here  (I tried to embed the image in this post, but for some reason its not working, not sure why).

Hopefully it's pretty apparent what's going on. The app enumerates all the top level windows and lists those that are offscreen, along with their coordinates and size.  Highlight it and click "Front and Center!" and it will move the app to your primary monitor.

The app requires at least the .NET Framework 2.0 be installed. The app itself requires no installation - just unzip and run.

I hacked this together pretty quick, so I'm sure it has problems. I've only tested with my standard ("center and right") dual monitor setup on Vista - I may very well have done something dumb that causes problems for other configs. Drop me a line if you have problems or ideas for improvement.

You can download it here.

 

Published Friday, November 21, 2008 12:07 PM by kevindente

Comments

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Friday, November 21, 2008 4:39 PM

You don't actually have to do a lot of keyboarding.  Just select move, hit an arrow key once, and then move the mouse.

Not that it isn't cool to have an app for this :)

Daniel Plaisted

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Friday, November 21, 2008 4:53 PM

Daniel,

Well, maybe it's just that exact sequence that I can never remember when I need. The other thing the app does is make sure the app has a minimum size - when apps go haywire they often shrink themselves down to the minimium size.

kevindente

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Friday, November 21, 2008 5:04 PM

Oh, the other thing that this app supports is multi-select. So for the multi-mon case, you don't need to move the apps one at a time.

kevindente

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Sunday, March 22, 2009 9:41 AM

In my first programming job, I had a requirement for 2 windows to position depending on each other.  It was a horrible design, and as you can imagine, the first run had a circular reference.  So when you moved one window it started a chain reaction where both windows appeared to 'walk' right off the screen.   It was too funny ... I must have ran it 20 times before I actually fixed it.

John MacIntyre

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Friday, September 11, 2009 6:17 AM

Absolutely brilliant. Thank you.

DJ

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Saturday, January 9, 2010 6:44 PM

Valuable application.

I have an application which binds Win+C to centering focused window (+ other things). So I dealt with the problem by finding a way to focus the window and pressing the hotkey.

But this is a real mess for regular users.

Bohdan Trotsenko

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Saturday, January 23, 2010 4:41 AM

Don't stop posting such articles. I like to read articles like this. By the way add more pics :)

PatrickJoy

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Wednesday, May 5, 2010 2:14 PM

Simple, useful and without hubris.  Perfect.

dweeb

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Friday, June 11, 2010 12:41 PM

Worked well! Unfortunately, I moved a window without a title and it turned out to be the Google search button. It would be nice to have an undo feature! (I unlocked the task bar and Google repositioned itself.)

Brian Brane

# re: New utility for dealing with off-screen apps - Front And Center! @ Tuesday, October 5, 2010 7:46 PM

Worked great for me!!  Finally got access to a utility I lost for literally a year.  The whole "Move" with the arrow keys would not work with my lost window because it wasn't the typical windows and was heavily customized.  But "Front and Center" did the trick.  This should be part of windows!!!

JJ