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How to import some Linux-like behaviors into Windows ?

Sometimes using Windows is required, for professional reasons, gaming, nostalgia... (nah, just kidding). Then I quickly find myself moving my mouse from a window to another and start typing, expecting that the window I'm typing in has the focus. Or I select a text and click the middle button of my mouse, expecting to paste that text... If you recognize yourself in those expectations, read on...

Select to copy, middle-click to paste

Download True X-Mouse. Just execute it to enable the behaviours. An icon will be displayed in the system tray.

True X-Mouse icon in the system tray

This also enables focus following the mouse pointer without delay.

How to make the focus follow the mouse without using third-party software

I found this tip before reading about True X-Mouse.

  1. Open Control Panel
  2. Open Ease of Access Center
  3. Click Make the mouse easier to use
  4. Check the option Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse
  5. Click OK.

Activating focus follows mouse via Control Panel

This will give the focus to the window currently under your mouse pointer, great ! Or not... Two things could still bother you: that feature has a delay and it also raises the focused window. To fix that (or "when Windows stops being user-friendly") :

Stop raising focused windows

  1. Open the Registry Editor (regedit.exe)
  2. Select HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  3. Double click on UserPreferencesMask in the right pane. These are hexadecimal numbers, which relate to many visual effects. We have to subtract 40 bits from the first hexadecimal value (in my case the first two numbers after 0000). Don't worry, you can do that with Windows Calculator. Set it to Programmer mode in the View menu, then enter the first value - 40. In my case, DF - 40 = 9F. So replace DF with 9F. Be careful not to modify any other number.
  4. Click OK.

Disable window auto-raise via regedit

Faster focus

  1. Still in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, double click on ActiveWndTrkTimeout in the right pane. Here you can display it in decimal to directly change the time in milliseconds. Set it to the duration you want: 0, 500 (1/2 second), 1000 (1 second), etc.
  2. Click OK.

Make moving focus faster

When you are done, log off and back in for the settings to take effect.


Simple fast application launcher

Another feature I missed was polybar which I use in my i3 environment. Download and install Launchy. It is free, cross-platform and open-source.

Launchy main window

Press Alt-Space to open it. Click the wheel in the upper right to open its settings. The Catalog tab lets you customize the directories inside which Launchy look for executables. Click the rescan button after updating the directories list. Go to the Skins tab to try other looks.

Launchy settings