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Always on Top tool for Windows (Alternative to PowerMenu)

Windows has always had the ability to make any window the topmost one ever since Windows 3.0. Once you make a window the topmost one, other overlapping windows will always show below that window in the Z-order. It is possible to make a window the topmost one programmatically but Microsoft felt that if this control was given to end users, then application developers would misuse it to make their programs always on top. Still, third party tools can easily use the Windows API function to change this. Let's look at two ways to make a window on top.

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Making a window the topmost one using the mouse

There was a popular old tool called PowerMenu which used global window hooks to add a menu to every program. The window menu (Alt+Space menu) allowed making each window the topmost one. But using global window hooks is not a safe approach as it can crash applications. Besides, PowerMenu only worked with 32-bit processes.

TurboTop is an excellent free app that works with 64-bit processes as well and sits in the notification area. It shows a menu with all open top level windows and allows toggling the "on top" behavior for them. To make a window on top, simple click the tray icon for TurboTop and then click that program name which you want to bring to the top. A check mark is placed next to the name of the window in the menu. Click the program name again inside the TurboTop menu to turn off the "on top" behavior.

TurboTop

You can see in the screenshot above that using TurboTop, even individual Sidebar gadgets can be made to always show on top of other windows.

Making a window the topmost one using the keyboard

For keyboard users, a simple AutoHotkey script can be used. You can install AutoHotkey and then copy-paste the following line of text into Notepad and save the file with the .AHK extension:

^#Up::WinSet,AlwaysOnTop,Toggle,A

If you are not familiar with compiling AutoHotkey scripts or do not wish to install AutoHotkey, then we have compiled this AutoHotkey script into a standalone EXE which does not require AutoHotkey to be installed.

Download AutoHotkey compiled EXE script to toggle Always on Top

Simply run this EXE and then press Ctrl+Win+Up to make a window on top and press it again to make it not on top. You can create a shortcut to this EXE in your Startup folder.

Administrator level programs

To make windows of programs which run as administrator always-on-top, you will have to run TurboTop and/or the AutoHotkey script as administrator. Use Winaero's ElevatedShortcut tool to create a shortcut to their EXEs and place the shortcut in your Startup folder at C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup.

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Author: Gaurav Kale

Gaurav is a software enthusiast from India and Classic Shell tester & UX consultant. He started with Windows 95 and is good at software usability testing. He firmly believes that user experience is just as important as software code quality and architecture for software to be successful.

5 thoughts on “Always on Top tool for Windows (Alternative to PowerMenu)”

  1. Nice app. I’m using 4t Tray Minimizer to replace PowerMenu on 64 bits apps.
    It has a feature to execute an action when right-clicking a window button.
    Eg: Right click on Maximize = Toggle Always on Top
    Eg: Right click on Minimize = Minimize to tray
    It also has other features, but I do not use them.
    Hope this comment will help someone :)

    1. Thank you whoever you are for posting this comment. 4t Tray Minimizer was the perfect solution for me especially with the extra pin-to-top button and the right-click menu. Absolute gold.

  2. Tnx for your post. Turbotop doesn’t work for some applications like chrome browser, but your auto hot key scripts worked for me.

    1. TurboTop works for me on Google Chrome 55 beta on 64-bit Windows 8.1. I don’t know about Windows 10 though – it’s a broken OS.

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