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How To Find & Recover an Off-Screen Window in Windows 10

Posted by Jamie on February 11, 2019

In theory, you should never lose an open window off the edge of your screen. It should go so far and then offer to go full screen. It should not disappear altogether. This is Windows though and strange things can happen. This tutorial will walk you through recovering an off-screen window in Windows 10 should it happen to you.

One way this happens that isn’t Microsoft’s fault is if you use multiple monitors. If one monitor goes offline while windows were on it, they are missing in action. Should anything happen to that other monitor, you have more to worry about than a missing window but you may need to get it back before you can tackle the problem.

These methods to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10 should work if you lose a monitor. Some will also work if it’s a Windows or application problem causing the issue.

Recover an off-screen window

We are so used to the drag and drop nature of Windows that when we cannot drag something where we want it, we can quickly become lost. There are other ways to achieve your goals but it may take a second, or some research to remember or discover them.

Here are a few ways to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10:

Cascade windows

The easiest way to locate an off-screen window is to use the desktop arrangement settings in Windows 10. Most often used to arrange multiple windows on a desktop, it can also be useful in this situation.

Right click on the Windows 10 Taskbar and select Cascade windows. If Windows has detected that the other monitor is not working, the lost window should snap into position on your remaining monitor. You could also use stacked or side by side if you prefer. They all achieve the same thing.

Keyboard shortcut

There is a keyboard shortcut for almost every element of Windows and this is no exception. If you lose a window, you can trigger the move cursor to bring it back. It takes a few seconds but achieves the same goal.

  1. Press Alt + Tab to select the missing window.
  2. Press Alt + Space + M to change the mouse cursor to the move cursor.
  3. Use the left, right, up or down keys on your keyboard to bring the window back into view.
  4. Press Enter or click the mouse to let the window go once recovered.

You can also use the move cursor from the Windows 10 Taskbar. If you Shift + right click on the missing window icon on the Taskbar and select Move, the same cursor feature appears as above. You can use the arrow keys to recover the window that way too. This will only work if you have taskbar buttons set to show on the main taskbar as well as where the window is open.

Change screen resolution

You can change your screen resolution to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10. This resets your desktop and should bring the missing window back onto your main screen.

  1. Right click on an empty space on your desktop.
  2. Select Display Settings and Advanced Display Settings.
  3. Select Resolution and select a different one from what is set.
  4. Select Apply.

The Windows desktop should reset to the new resolution and your window should appear on your main desktop. Just reset the resolution back to its original setting once you have the window you want.

Change screen settings

You can make Windows recognize a monitor has gone so it brings back the missing window too if you prefer. As long as everything else is working okay, this should force the desktop to reset onto your main monitor.

  1. Right click an empty space on your desktop and select Display Settings.
  2. Select Detect to ‘encourage’ Windows to see you have a monitor out of action.

If you lost a window because of monitor failure, this should bring everything back onto your main desktop. If it’s a graphics driver or other issue causing you to lose a window, this won’t necessarily work.

Use Task Manager

The final way I know of to recover an off-screen window in Windows 10 is to use Task Manager. You can maximize all open windows which should bring the application back into focus.

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select Task Manager.
  2. Select the Processes tab and select the missing window.
  3. Right click and select Maximize.

Depending on the window that is missing, you may have to select Expand before you see Maximize. This seems to depend on whether it’s a Windows native app or something else. If you see Expand, select that and then select Maximize.

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