Tip

Windows offers quick fix for apps that are invisible or offscreen

Many Windows applications retain some memory of their window size and placement onscreen. This sometimes creates a problem where the window size is spuriously set to zero, or the window is placed entirely offscreen. A sure sign of this is if you have an icon for the progam in the Taskbar, but it doesn't appear or come to the foreground when you click on it.

I've seen this sort of thing happen a few times with systems that were switched from single- to dual-desktop configurations or back again. It's annoying, especially if the program in question is important and you don't want to waste time trying to hack its settings to get it visible again.

There's a trick that is already in Windows (although many people forget it exists) that ought to allow you to bring the window back into sight. Here's what to do:

  1. Right-click on the application button in the Taskbar and select Size. Better yet, press the S key. This way, you'll be using the keyboard immediately.
  2. Look for a four-way arrow cursor somewhere on the screen. It might be along one of the edges of the screen, or tucked up in a corner.
  3. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to try and expand the window size. If you don't see anything, you might be expanding an extent of the window that's not visible yet (i.e., it might be offscreen). Press Enter to end the sizing operation.

Immediately after you select Size, the arrow key you strike will determine which edge of the window you're resizing. For instance, if you hit Size and then press the right arrow key, the right edge of the window will be the one sized. You might need to size each window edge separately by selecting an edge, sizing it, pressing Enter and then repeating the process for another edge. This is a simple two-step process.

  1. Right-click on the application button in the Taskbar and select Move. This will again cause a four-way cursor to appear somewhere.
  2. Use the arrow keys to move the window into view now that it's been sized properly.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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