How to Make Application “Always on Top” in Windows

Always Top Featured

If you’re an avid Linux fan, you may be familiar with the “Always on Top” feature. This pins a window to the forefront of the other windows, even if it loses focus. This is great for keeping track of a specific window and ensuring it doesn’t get buried under all the rest.

You may be disappointed to see that Windows doesn’t natively support this feature. Fear not: there are third-party ways to enable Always on Top for Windows.

Making a Custom Script with AutoHotkey

This method isn’t as convenient as dedicated software, but it is good if you don’t wish to install an entire suite just to pin windows to the top. It’s also the best choice if you want freedom over how you activate the shortcut to pin a window.

To achieve this method, we’re going to need AutoHotkey. This allows us to manually script the “always on top” hotkey and customize it as we like.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed AutoHotkey, you don’t need to open it. Instead, right-click the desktop and go to “New -> AutoHotkey Script.”

Always Top New

A new window appears in Notepad, or whatever you’ve set to replace Notepad. There’s a bit of text already in it, but you don’t need to do anything with it. Instead, go to a new line and enter the following:

^SPACE:: Winset, Alwaysontop, , A
Always Top Notepad

Save the script, then double-click it on the desktop. You can now set a window to always appear on top by pressing Ctrl + Space. There is no visual cue for windows being pinned or unpinned, so you’ll have to mentally keep track.

If you don’t like the Ctrl + Space hotkey, feel free to change it. The ^SPACE part of the above code handles the hotkeys: the ^ is for either Ctrl key, and the SPACE is the Space Bar. You can use AutoHotkey’s List of Keys to find the codes for your own custom hotkey!

Pin Windows Using DeskPins

If you prefer a visual identification of pinned windows, try DeskPins. This app sits in your taskbar until you click on it. Once you do, you can set which windows to stay on top, and includes a visual aid.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed DeskPins, you’ll see it appear in the taskbar as a window with a red pin on it. If you can’t see it, you may need to click the upward arrow to the left of the taskbar and drag DeskPins into the main bar.

Always Top Icon

Once you find the icon, click it. Your cursor will turn into a pin shape. When you click on a window, a small red pin will appear at the top right. The window will now stay on top.

Always Top Pin

If you want to remove the pin, simply hover your mouse over it and click it.

Staying on Top with Always on Top

While some operating systems and programs allow you to always pin a window to the top, Windows doesn’t have it by default. Thankfully, by using a few tools, you can get this handy feature on a Windows machine!

Which method do you prefer? Let us know below.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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