Microsoft PowerToys.
Image: Microsoft

Working with multiple windows in Microsoft Windows can be challenging. Sometimes you want one window to always be visible. But when you click a different window, that now becomes the active one, which means your previous window retreats into the background or is partly obscured by any windows in front of it.

You can sneak past this limitation with a Microsoft PowerToy known as Always on Top. By activating the Always on Top PowerToy feature and applying it to a specific window, you pin that window so it’s always visible even if you click on another window. You can tweak this PowerToy feature so it displays a border around the selected window and change the shortcut that triggers Always on Top. Here’s how it works.

If you aren’t already running Microsoft PowerToys in Windows 10 or 11, download and install the latest version at the program’s GitHub page. Open the PowerToys Settings window by clicking on its System Tray icon. At the window, select the tool for Always on Top. To enable the feature, turn on its switch (Figure A).

Figure A


By default, the shortcut you use to trigger Always on Top is Windows key + Ctrl + T. But you can change this. Click the pencil icon next to the shortcut. Press the keys you want to use for the new shortcut. The tool will tell you if your shortcut is valid. If so, click Save (Figure B).

Figure B


Next, you can keep Always on Top disabled when you’re in game mode by making sure the box is checked for Do Not Activate When Game Mode Is On.

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By default, Always on Top displays a border around the pinned window. To disable the border, turn off the switch for Show A Border Around The Pinned Window. If you keep the border, you can change its color if you wish. Click the dropdown button that says Windows Default and change it to a custom color that you prefer. You can also alter the thickness of the border by moving the slider along the Thickness bar (Figure C).

Figure C


Next, keep the option checked for Play A Sound When Pinning A Window to get an audible alert when you pin a window. You can exclude any applications that you don’t want to be able to pin. For this, you’ll have to determine the name of the app’s executable file and type it in the window (Figure D).

Figure D


Now it’s time to take Always on Top for a test drive. Close the PowerToys Settings window. Open multiple windows on your desktop. Pick the window that you want to pin and press the shortcut for Always on Top. Assuming you kept the default settings, you should hear an audible alert and see a border around the window. Now click on other windows, and the pinned one should stay on top of the others (Figure E).

Figure E


To turn off Always on Top, press the same shortcut you used to trigger it. You should now be able to work with your open windows as you normally would.