Tech Tip of the Week: How to Bring a Lost Window Back to your Desktop

By on December 9, 2009, 6:01 AM
At one point or another, you're bound to run into this pesky issue: you can see an application open in the taskbar, but can't see the window on your desktop. A number of things can cause this, such as disconnecting your laptop from a secondary display before dragging the windows back to the primary desktop. It can also occur when you open a program that alters your resolution, among a few others.


Restarting your PC may not be viable, because the inaccessible program window could contain unsaved data -- not to mention that it's never fun to reboot without a good reason. There are a couple of tricks to get your stray window back on screen.

Read our Tech Tip of the Week.




User Comments: 22

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yangly18 yangly18 said:

thanks for this tip, it happens to me every once in a while due to my use of my TV screen as a display sometimes. This mostly happens when I don't change over my screen settings and just d/c the cable going to the tv.

Puiu Puiu said:

Another great tip. It could save someone's life!

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The arrow keys! DOH! So simple, so obvious, so completely overlooked by me when I needed it! I have a tendency to put things like chat and notepad windows over on my second monitor while at work, then when I take my laptop on the road I suddenly can't get to anything I want... Thanks for the tips, I'll probably be using them this week, knowing me!

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I run into this all the time as well because of my multiple monitor setup with my laptop. The move shortcut is always my standby. Thanks for getting this out there though.

Burned said:

I run into this all the time when working on peoples notebooks.

Guest said:

i always right click the taskbar icon, choose move and then, without moving the mouse, click and drag the window. when move is selected, the mouse pointer is always on the window title bar and changes to the 4 arrows, so clicking and dragging works.

Vicenarian said:

Guest said:

i always right click the taskbar icon, choose move and then, without moving the mouse, click and drag the window. when move is selected, the mouse pointer is always on the window title bar and changes to the 4 arrows, so clicking and dragging works.

Man, that is a lifesaver.

Tgard said:

Excellent tip! I needed this desperately about a week ago and instead had to resort to reconnecting a second monitor back to my video card to retrieve the lost app. Duh to me, never even considered cascade or the arrow keys, but I tried about everything else.

Thanks much - I will know from now on!

LightHeart said:

Just ran into this yesterday with a user, oh well, I'm ready for the next time it happens.

MaXtor MaXtor said:

Nice tip - the Windows key + Arrow keys. I don't believe I've had the issue while on Windows 7 but if I had I wonder if I would have thought to use the Windows 7 snap feature.

Guest said:

I know this is somewhat late, but maybe it will help (on Win7).

Win key + Shift + Left/Right Arrow key = Moving the selected program from one display to another.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Guest, believe it or not that doesn't always work with certain stubborn programs, but thanks for the note, I will try it next time I come across this annoyance .

uttaradhaka said:

I've had this problem before.. This tip is going to help. Thanks

Guest said:

Hey guys nice tip. What if the program I'm using has a pop-up which appears mostly off screen? Because this pop-up is not the main program this method does not work(no tab appears in task bar). I'm using duel screens with a drafting program and every time I select this particular fuction it appears off screen almost completly. I tried finding pop-up while using one screen only, however it is completely off screen.

Any ideas would appriciated.

Dan

Guest said:

Saved my afternoon!! Thank you so much :-)

FB

Guest said:

Thank you so much for the tip!! This totally saved my bacon on my workstation. Now I can see what exactly is going on when my system won't accept our network patches.

Guest said:

Prest Ctrl+Alt+Delete , click on task manager , select your lost window , and click maximize.

Guest said:

Thanks for saving me time and frustration!

Guest said:

So this tip is for Windows 7 running minimally, I.e. no Aero or fluff and a main application spawned another dialog box and for some reason or another the window is hidden behind the taskbar but you may not know. So just auto-hide the task bar and you can find it and then either handle it or use the method discussed. If you still cannot find it the task manager trick or aero(enable it) usually works.

Guest said:

Ohmigod... THANK YOU! I learnt a new trick today with the windows key and the arrow button. You saved my bacon!

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