How to move an off-screen window back to screen in Windows 10?

March 10, 2020 |

greater than 7 minutes

This has probably happened to you at least once. You open an application, only to discover that its window is stuck off-screen. Since you can’t see the app’s window, you can’t drag it back to your desktop. It can get quite frustrating since the affected app or program simply becomes inaccessible. When you go to your taskbar, you can clearly see that the app is open. Pointing at the title bar in the taskbar even shows you a preview of the app’s window, but the app is nowhere to be seen. Luckily, there are several methods that you can employ to move an off-screen window back to the screen in Windows 10.

First, let’s discuss why you can’t find the title bar in a Windows 10 app. Usually, most programs on your Windows 10 device will open on the main screen. However, if, for whatever reasons, one of the apps tries to open off-screen, it should reset its position and open on your desktop. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and many users have found themselves stuck with an off-screen window.

One scenario that could cause such an error is when using multiple displays. Let’s say you’re working on your laptop and you’ve connected it to an external monitor. If you disconnect the external display without closing the window that was on it, then the next time you try to launch that app, it may appear off-screen. Under normal circumstances, the window should automatically move to the desktop. But, as it turns out, the operation can sometimes fail.

Windows users who run portable apps from a flash drive also seem to encounter this problem. This is what happens. If you run a portable app from a flash drive on a display with a lower resolution than the one you previously used to run the same portable app, then the title bar might remain off-screen and fail to automatically return to the main screen. Additionally, the issue can also happen if you accidentally move the app’s window off-screen.

How to Move a Window That Is Off-Screen?

If you’re a Windows user, then you must be accustomed to the drag-and-drop feature where you can drag anything on your desktop and move it to another location with ease. However, when this option is no longer applicable, for instance, if you can’t drag an off-screen window back to the main screen, then you can get stuck.

Here are some effective workarounds that you could try.

Cascade Windows

This is by far the easiest method to return an off-screen window to the desktop. Although the “Cascade windows” feature is mostly used to neatly arrange multiple windows on your desktop, it can be quite handy in this situation.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to your “Taskbar” and right-click on it.
  2. Select the “Cascade windows” option. This repositions all open windows in the upper left corner of your main display, with the windows stacked on top of each other. From there, you can select the title bar of the app that was off-screen and gain full access.

The downside of using this method is that all open windows will be repositioned, including the ones that weren’t problematic. But at least you will have moved the off-screen window back to the desktop.

Use a Keyboard Trick

You can easily use the keyboard to move the window back into view. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to your taskbar and point your cursor to the missing application or program, but do not click it. The app’s preview should pop up.
  2. Now, move the mouse pointer onto the pop-up preview and right-click on it and then choose “Move”. Do not click your mouse.
  3. Once you select “Move” in step 2 above, press any arrow key on your keyboard once. This operation locks the mouse pointer to the top of the off-screen window.
  4. Next, move (do not click) your mouse. Since the off-screen window is locked to the mouse pointer, it will move to any direction that the mouse moves. Keep moving your mouse until the off-screen window appears on the main screen.
  5. Now, you can click to deselect the app’s window.

Alternatively, if this process doesn’t work on your version of Windows, here’s another simple guide:

  1. Go to your taskbar and point your cursor to the missing window (do not click just yet).
  2. Hold down the Shift key and right-click on that window, and then select “Move”.
  3. You can now use your mouse (without clicking) to move the window back to the main screen. You can also move the window using the arrow keys.

Using Alt + Tab

  1. Hold down the Alt + Tab shortcut. Multiple windows will show up on your desktop.
  2. While still holding down the Alt key, use the Tab key to select the window that you are looking for. If you’re using the latest Windows version, letting go of the Alt and Tab keys should bring up the selected window.
  3. For previous Windows versions, press the “Enter” key to bring the off-screen window back to the desktop. (If this doesn’t work, try the next step).
  4. Now, after selecting the off-screen window using the Tab key, you’ll have highlighted that off-screen window. Next, press the Alt + Space shortcut, and then press M. This changes the mouse pointer to a “Move” cursor.
  5. Move your mouse (without clicking) to move the off-screen window back to the main screen. You can also use the arrow keys to move the off-screen window until you have it in sight.

Using the Windows Key + Arrow Keys

This keyboard shortcut can reposition any window that you want on your desktop. To do so:

  1. Go to your taskbar and click on the off-screen window to bring it to focus.
  2. Next, hold down the Windows Key and press any of the arrow keys.
  3. Now, use the arrow keys to bring the off-screen window back to the screen.

Using the Windows Key + D

The Windows Key + D function or shortcut minimizes all open applications simultaneously. The Win + D shortcut is a toggle that, if pressed again, makes all the applications reappear.

You could try this method to check if you can recover the off-screen window.

Change Your Screen Settings

If you previously connected an external display to your computer, you can adjust some display settings to make Windows recognize that the monitor has been disconnected. This should bring any missing window back to the main screen.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Go to your desktop, right-click on an empty space and select “Display settings”.
  2. Select “Detect” to allow Windows to rearrange your displays.

Please note that this method only works if your missing window is due to an external monitor. If the issue is something else, then keep trying the solutions below.

Change Your Screen Resolution

In Windows 10, you can change your screen resolution to reset your desktop and recover the missing window.

Here’s the guide:

  1. Go to your desktop, right-click on an empty space, and select “Display settings”.
  2. Scroll down and click the drop-down menu under “Display resolution”.
  3. Choose a different resolution and check if it brings back the off-screen window.

If it does, change your screen resolution back to the recommended settings.

Use Task Manager

Another effective method to recover a missing window is to use Task Manager. To do so, follow this simple guide:

  1. Launch Task Manager via the taskbar or press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut.
  2. Under the “Processes” tab, find the missing app, right-click on it, and select “Maximize”. Depending on the app that’s missing, you might have to select Expand > Maximize.

Update Your Display Drivers

Device drivers play a crucial role in the proper functioning of your Windows system in that they enable the communication between your devices and their corresponding software. If the drivers are faulty, then you can run into various unpleasant errors that might prevent you from accessing certain programs.

It’s, therefore, important to keep all of your device drivers updated. There are two simple approaches that you can use to achieve this, namely:

  • Manual
  • Automated

Manually update your device drivers

A computer usually has dozens of devices installed from different manufacturers. To get the graphics card driver, you need to go to the manufacturer’s website, find the correct driver version, download it, and then install it on your computer.

The process is more complicated than it seems, and you can easily install the wrong driver version, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. That’s why we recommend the second option.

Automatically update your device drivers

This method is easier and less risky. You need a third-party tool like Auslogics Driver Updater to check for the available device drivers on your PC, scan for outdated, missing or incompatible drivers, and then automatically fix them.

The tool installs only the official driver versions that are compatible with your operating system to ensure that everything runs smoothly. If the missing window issue has been caused by outdated display drivers, then updating them should fix it and bring the off-screen window back to the desktop.

How to Prevent the Problem from Happening Again

To make sure the problem doesn’t haunt you again in the future, especially if you frequently use multiple monitors, you need to set your display to your main screen immediately after disconnecting the extra display(s). To do so, hold down the Windows key and press P until the first option (PC screen only) is selected.

Additionally, you need to keep your Windows system healthy. This means performing regular maintenance on your PC with a trusted and reliable tool like Auslogics BoostSpeed. This is an optimization tool that helps you to get rid of junk files taking up disk space, remove invalid entries or corrupt keys causing instability issues from your registry, and fix virtually any other speed-reducing issue affecting your computer.

Auslogics BoostSpeed provides all the necessary tweaking modules that you’ll ever need on your machine. This includes Disk Defragmentation, Registry Cleaner, Disk Cleanup, and Internet Optimizer, to mention just a few. Plus, it’s created with the end-user in mind so that whether you’re a novice or a computer expert, you can still use the program with ease. Running this optimization software diagnoses your entire Windows system, detects issues and automatically applies the fixes.

As a result, your computer runs as good as new, and you don’t have to worry about random freezes or crashes, among other PC issues.

If you are having trouble trying to recover an off-screen window, then the methods above should work for you. If you have questions or thoughts, please feel free to share them by leaving your comments below.

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