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Author Topic: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!  (Read 5011 times)

J-Mac

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A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« on: May 27, 2007, 02:31:38 PM »
Hello all.  This is a request for a software recommendation -- or a request for a new small program.

I, like most, have a number of utilities that run in the background while I work on my PC.  Besides my AV and AS, there are a few others that I allow to run because it is convenient to do so.  However there are some times when I must have full CPU, or when I cannot afford for anything in the background to steal focus.  For this I have found that a PC Magazine utility, Startup Cop 2, works well for me.  It allows you to setup numerous profiles with different startup programs.  So if I plan to just browse the web or write emails -- what I will call very general, but light PC activity -- I use my default profile: it has all the background applications that I like and will tolerate under the best circumstances auto-starting. Then I have other profiles where I only allow certain apps to start, depending on the situation - what I will be working on and how sensitive it is to background "interruptions".  And I also have a profile that is almost equivalent to Safe Mode.  It allows only my AV and AS to start automatically.

There are some apps that run in the background that may affect my usage more than some others.  For example, I do not have full use of one arm/hand, and keyboard usage is getting more difficult for me, so I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional version more and more.  However if anything is running in the background that occasionally steals the focus, it can throw me way off while dictating. I had installed Windows Desktop Search even though my preferred desktop search is Copernic 2, with X1 as my second choice. I installed the Windows Search only because it is recommended for use with OneNote 2007 - OneNote will not use any other desktop search, of course. (Thanks a lot, Bill!)  However Windows Desktop Search installs itself as a service and even when indexing is turned off and the program is closed, it continually grabs 1 to 2% CPU and then releases it. Doesn't sound bad, but any "Select and Say" application that I am using with Dragon loses focus as soon as the Windows Search grabs any CPU at all.  Which means that only part of what I am dictating gets "heard".  Any of you who has to rely on speech recognition for PC input will understand just how disruptive this is!!  Even when using the keyboard, something occasionally grabs focus and the last line you typed is lost - never got there! Ever experience that?

So presently I try to select my Startup Cop 2 profiles carefully and work with only those items running in the background that I know won't be disruptive. However every now and then something starts stealing focus and I cannot figure out easily which app is doing it.  I use the Task Manager, Process Explorer, the Event Viewer, and a couple other utilities to try and figure out exactly what is  happening during those times, but that can be very time consuming, and even with investigating things that way I cannot always find the culprit easily.

Is there anything available that anyone can recommend that shows a log of all activity over time? Something that would tell me at a glance what most likely stole focus at the moment I noticed it was gone? With all the tools already available I do not want just a reworking of any of those; just something quicker, easy to view, and that doesn't analyze everything going on -- just what had focus and what may have taken focus away.

Thanks for any and all advice!

Jim

rjbull

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2007, 02:49:46 PM »
I can't help you directly, but have you tried any of the applications that "nail" or "pin" a particular window on top?  A list of several can be found > here <


J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2007, 03:05:48 PM »
I can't help you directly, but have you tried any of the applications that "nail" or "pin" a particular window on top?  A list of several can be found > here <


No, but do these actually prevent the focus from being lost?

IOW, currently nothing I am seeing takes over and places a window on top; I just see the current window in which I am working dim slightly and the focus is gone -- to where, I don't know! I am not having dificulty keeping windows on top. But the focus is something else entirely.

Thanks.

nosh

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2007, 03:25:24 PM »
When you run Media Player Classic in fullscreen mode, if a utility steals focus and kicks it out of fullscreen mode it tells you the name of the erring utility. I suppose there would be cleaner ways to do this but if you just want a quick search and destroy solution this should do.

Curt

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2007, 03:52:46 PM »
A hole lot easier just to raise the Priority to RealTime / 24.

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2007, 04:06:21 PM »
When you run Media Player Classic in fullscreen mode, if a utility steals focus and kicks it out of fullscreen mode it tells you the name of the erring utility. I suppose there would be cleaner ways to do this but if you just want a quick search and destroy solution this should do.

I never realized that. Good point!  Thanks.

A hole lot easier just to raise the Priority to RealTime / 24.
That is, the priority of the window/app that I want in focus, correct?

BTW, I just changed a few settings in Mouser's Process Tamer that might help, too.  Guess I'll see.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2007, 04:08:57 PM by J-Mac »

Curt

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2007, 06:45:54 PM »
That is, the priority of the window/app that I want in focus, correct?

BTW, I just changed a few settings in Mouser's Process Tamer that might help, too.  Guess I'll see.

Thanks.

That was excatly what I was thinking about:
Use ProcessTamer to set new Priority for the Dragon: Force RealTime   :Thmbsup:

- assuming the Dragon is only open when in use; otherwise it will eat the CPU from other apps.

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2007, 10:12:43 PM »
Thanks Curt. Yes, I run Dragon only when using it. Like I said earlier, if I am just browsing or something similar -- as long as it doesn't involve heavy input -- I don't start Dragon and I use the keyboard and mouse. Only when I am typing a lot in Word, the Journal, or anything that is input-intensive like that do I dictate the input via Dragon NS. Otherwise I get a lot of typos, and almost all originating on the left side of the keyboard... confirming that my left arm/hand isn't quite getting it done as well as it should.

I'll run like this for a while and see if it helps. However I would still like to see something that would give me an indication of which application or service has started doing this.

Thanks again.

Jim

justice

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2007, 03:09:39 AM »
Install TweakUI for windows XP. There is an option which disables applications from stealing focus. This might solve your whole issue. I'm on vista just now so unfortunately I cannot make a screenshot.

Wordzilla

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2007, 03:21:18 AM »
Nice trick, justice!

Screenshot - 28_05_2007 , 6_14_35 PM.pngA Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!


TweakUI is a part of MS powertoys, and can be downloaded here:
http://www.microsoft...oys/xppowertoys.mspx

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2007, 03:47:35 AM »
Nice trick, justice!

Screenshot - 28_05_2007 , 6_14_35 PM.pngA Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!


TweakUI is a part of MS powertoys, and can be downloaded here:
http://www.microsoft...oys/xppowertoys.mspx
Thanks folks, but that was already installed and set a year ago. Not sure what it does do, but it doesn't help with this.   :(

Curt

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2007, 03:49:40 AM »
I have TweakUI with the same setting, but I am not too sure it will change anything but which window is getting the focus.

---

By the way:

Quote from: Microsoft
Important:

• If you installed PowerToys prior to April 23, 2002, you must uninstall your old PowerToys before installing the versions available here.
 
• PowerToys only work with U.S. English regional settings. 

From experience I know that some PowerToys actually work with other languages as well, but not all.

Curt

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2007, 04:01:52 AM »
J-Mac; we forgot to also make the obvious point, didn't we.
When you raise the dragon's priority, using Process Tamer, you should of course also lower Windows Desktop Search's priority to below normal or even idle.

 :tellme:

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2007, 02:33:23 PM »
J-Mac; we forgot to also make the obvious point, didn't we.
When you raise the dragon's priority, using Process Tamer, you should of course also lower Windows Desktop Search's priority to below normal or even idle.

 :tellme:

I removed Windows Desktop Search as soon as I realized that it would not let me alter any of its behavior. MS must have built in a "strong man" feature to it. I couldn't find a way to even touch its priority. Irritating as all heck! I'll live with OneNote 2007 having lesser search capabilites, if they won't let it take advantage of Copernic or X1!!

Thanks Curt.

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2007, 02:34:40 PM »
I have TweakUI with the same setting, but I am not too sure it will change anything but which window is getting the focus.

---

By the way:

Quote from: Microsoft
Important:

• If you installed PowerToys prior to April 23, 2002, you must uninstall your old PowerToys before installing the versions available here.
 
• PowerToys only work with U.S. English regional settings. 

From experience I know that some PowerToys actually work with other languages as well, but not all.


Now that's interesting. I didn't realize they had updated TweakUI. I'll uninstall the old and install the new -- see what they did for it.

Thanks.

J-Mac

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2007, 02:38:53 PM »
Oops!  That says 2002!  I don't know why, but I saw "2007" when I first looked. Wishful thinking, I guess.

Darwin

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2007, 03:41:56 PM »
Install TweakUI for windows XP. There is an option which disables applications from stealing focus. This might solve your whole issue. I'm on vista just now so unfortunately I cannot make a screenshot.

Just a caveat, though (with a caveat of its own: this *could* just be a conflict on my system), in that I find that this setting gets "undone" often. That is, I'll set it and it will work for a time and then programmes will start to steal focus again so I'll have to re-set it. Kind of a PIA. I haven't checked this, but I think that it's getting reset on every reboot.

FWIW, I'm runnning WinXP Pro Sp-2 fully patched and am using TweakUIXP...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Curt

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Re: A Utility to Tell Me What is Stealing Focus!!
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2007, 05:49:17 PM »
... I removed Windows Desktop Search as soon as I realized that it would not let me alter any of its behavior. MS must have built in a "strong man" feature to it. I couldn't find a way to even touch its priority. ..

Hmmm; this is a little confusing to me. Windows Desktop Search 3.0's priority should be easy to temper with, I would expect. Was it version 3.0?

Will you look into which service processes are still running and tell if SearchIndexer.exe (in /system32) is one of them, please?