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Getting the Focused, Undivided Attention of Apps Launched with Application Launcher

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip

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Posted: 23 Jan 2002

If your users are having to click on freshly-launched applications to bring them to the foreground or to give them focus, this tip's for you.

What changed?
Microsoft changed the way applications behave between NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. The behavior in NT 4.0 was that anytime you launched an application that wasn't a child of that application (e.g., launching NOTEPAD.EXE through the NAL (Novell Application Launcher) Explorer window), the newly launched application would steal the focus from any other application that was currently running. The behavior in Windows 2000 was changed so that applications that are launched don't steal the focus from the application that was already running unless the new application that is launched is a child of the application that is currently running (For example, opening a GroupWise e-mail message while the GroupWise client window is open still works as planned).

How to change back:
This behavior is configurable in Windows 2000 using the TweakUI utility. (To download the TweakUI 1.33 update from the Microsoft Web site, use the following link:

The "General" tab of the TweakUI control panel applet shows a check box that says, "Prevent applications from stealing focus." By default, this box is checked. Unchecking the box will cause newly launched applications to steal the focus. Download and install the TweakUI utility on all Windows 2000 workstations and manually change this value by going into the Control Panel and running the TweakUI icon.

For a more automated way of changing this behavior, the TweakUI setting mentioned above corresponds to the "ForegroundLockTimeout" value in the "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop" key in the registry. It is a DWORD value, and 30d40 in HEX corresponds to "on." To turn it off, set the HEX value to 0. Apply this to all Windows 2000 workstations by exporting the registry key and delivering it through NAL, or look for a corresponding value in a Microsoft Group Policy for Windows 2000 and deliver the change that way.

For updates and more information on this tip, see TID Number 10055387.

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