Sloppy Focus in Windows
Posted in Tech
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:14 am)

I love sloppy focus in a windowing environment. It makes me happy. I shouldn't have to click on a window and bring it to the foreground for it to have focus and be able to accept input. I should just be able to slide the mouse over the window, and as long as it doesn't exit that window and hit another one, the window I rolled over should get focus.

I am so used to this behavior after 10 years of desktop Linux usage that I'm always thinking it works the same way in Windows. But I was wrong—you have to click windows before they accept focus.

Except I'm wrong again. You can have sloppy focus in Windows. I just modified Vista to have sloppy focus!

In Regedit, set the 0x1 bit (thanks to Sam for the clarification):
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\UserPreferencesMask

In my case, the value was set to 9E 3E 07 80 12 00 00 00. This value is little-endian, which means the least-significant-bit is first. So in hex, this is 0x0000001280073E9E. Adding 0x1, we get 0x0000001280073E9F. Reverse the bits and you get the new value: 9F 3E 07 80 12 00 00 00.

It's simpler to just increment the first bit in the sequence, but this is so you really understand what is going on.

Log off (no need to reboot) and log back in. You now have sloppy focus. This works in Windows 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista.

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