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I have this problem:

I am working a lot on a computer, most of the day and night, and this results in my desktop having lots of windows opened, 70-100 usually, so I have to close all the windows I don't use any more by mouse, and it is big pain.

I also have to execute these commands manually in cmd every 30 minutes or so:

taskkill /im chrome.exe /F
taskkill /im notepad.exe /F
taskkill /im mspaint.exe /F
taskkill /im explorer.exe /F (for opened folders and such)
explorer.exe (re-create explorer instance for taskbar)

And I have to do this very often, because I got used to work that way, I open a new notepad.exe instance to write some scratch of code or mail draft, or inquiry, or record temporary information (such as passwords, IP addresses, notes and such) or whatever else. So there is usually a lot of Notepad windows opened. I access them from time to time, but not all of them. Some of them have outdated information and those windows are minimized.

Same goes for Paint. I use it for screenshots, quick drawing of some idea or scheme.

And the thing is, that I actually need all those windows, but not for a long time! After 10 minutes or so, I will never access that window again because I will forget it and move on with my work.

I also surf sites a lot, and I never know whether I will need one page, so I open all links in new window, and that's why I usually have 30-40 tabs in one Chrome.exe container. However, I have multi-monitor setup (three screens) and I create new chrome.exe instance for another monitors, and they also have 30-40 tabs in each of them.

So I am looking for a program which would try to close all windows I didn't bring on top for more than 10 minutes. It shouldn't kill process, because it would be good to let program show up a save file dialog or let it save necessary information.

I spent many hours googling for a solution, and I also was asking people on different IRC channels about it, but I didn't have much luck with it.

I am just dreaming about this program, because I imagine how my work efficiency will improve, because I will get to concentrate more on a program I am working with (for example Adobe Flash) and not observing huge taskbar with 70-100 tasks in it. Such taskbar takes a lot of my screen space. Not mentioning that I confuse windows and forget where one window is and spent time looking for it.

Please do not suggest me to close all windows manually, because I never know whether I will need that window again or not, so I don't close it just after leaving it. However, if I didn't bring that window on top again in next 10 minutes, then probably the information in that window is outdated and no longer interesting for me. However, it is obvious that I can not take a break from my work and look for all those windows which are idle and which are not, this would affect my work performance greatly.

I am using Windows 7.

I appreciate any help.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This isn't exactly what you asked for, but some of the problems (like with Chrome) could be solved with an automatic session saver. However, this program kills everything, not automagically like you request. Still this will save you time closing windows

Close All of Your Open Apps in a Snap

You’ve been doing some serious work on your computer and have a bunch of apps, browsers, spreadsheets, and documents open. You’re done for the day, but closing each app and document individually is going to be a hassle. Here we take a look at an awesome utility that will close all of your running applications at once with one click.

Close All Windows

Close All Windows from NTWind Software is an easy to use utility that doesn’t require installation, and will terminate all programs with a single click. Simply download and extract the zip file, and when you open it you’ll see the files that run it.

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You can put this folder into a handy directory like C:\Users then pin the executable to the Taskbar for easy access in Windows 7.

alt text

It will also work in XP or Vista and you could add it to the Quick Launch toolbar.

alt text

If you haven’t saved your work in a program or document, the app will ask if you want to save your work, just like if you were to close out of it normally.

alt text

If you need a way to quickly close out of all your open apps when done for the day, Close All Windows is a very cool solution.

Note this doesn't solve your Windows Explorer problem, but you could try rebooting explorer.exe

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Woops I misread, this kills them... I don't think this can be done automated (after 10 mins) –  Ivo Flipse Feb 5 '10 at 7:00
    
I like that article. I will also add that button to my taskbar. Thanks! It doesn't solve my problem, but will come in use as well, because now I have to close all tasks by mouse, when I get freaked out when there is more than 100 windows opened. Now I will be able to close it with single click! Better than nothing. Thanks –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 7:04
    
This is great. I have just downloaded it. I love it! It doensn't kill the proccesses, it just tries to close the programs. So they get to ask me whether I want to save things or not –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 7:09

I highly doubt you are going to find a program to do this. Besides, your problem isn't the windows, it is how you deal with your workflow.

I am just dreaming about this program, because I imagine how my work effiency will improve

Your biggest efficiency gain will be from using your computer more effectively. Try to pack a more proactive "closing" attitude when you move away from something you know you won't use again, such as browser pages (You don't even need to hit the 'X' in chrome, you can just middle click anywhere on the page tab to close).

Some of them have outdated information and those windows are minimized

Don't minimise, close!

Also, download and install Notepad++, it is like Notepad deluxe. It has tabbed 'notepads', which should help you reduce your window count. If you go to open Notepad++ agaom or a new text file, it will just open it as a new tab, forcing you to keep the single window.

Maybe even in a actual physical notepad next to your computer, for the really quick & small notes so you don't need a new window for them.

Just my 2 cents...


To answer your questions in the comments:

Firstly, I don't believe it would exist since not many people would have this issue. Another reason is that if you close windows automatically every 'x' minutes you are left with 1 of 2 problems. I also doubt that you can programmatically tell how long a window has not had focus.

  1. If you kill the process outright, it could automatically kill a document with unsaved work you really wanted. These options can (and probably will) result in you irrevocably losing work.

  2. If you ask the app to close, everyone that has unsaved work (all your notepad and mspaint windows) will pop-up with the "Do you want to save" dialog. This will still your focus, cause flashing taskbar items and generally cause you to have to manually address 'y' amount of windows every 'x' minutes. This results in context switching, which is both frustrating and causes you to be highly inefficient.

You need to become better organised. Sorry, but a program won't solve this for you.

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I do not minimize. I usually need windows I create for some time, I switch on them a few times. But after 10 minutes or so, I moved on, and it is either I don't need that note any more, or I want it to be saved and closed. The same with Chrome tabs. I never know whether I will need that page or not. Why do you doubt the existence of such program? It's not difficult at all. If the window is not accessed for some time, it can be considered idle and removed from the taskbar. I want some program to do that for me. –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 6:52
    
Because if I will have to do less work with unneeded closing windows myself every 10 minutes then it will affect my work perfomance. Notepad++ doesn't seem good, because it keeps everything in tabs. I like it more with windows - this way I can distribute them across different screens, resize them the way I want. I also love simplicity of the notepad, it helps me to concentrate. But the problem here is not notepad at all, since the same things happens for me with all programs. Especially with Windows File explorer folders, chrome, iexplore.exe, notepad.exe and mspaint.exe –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 6:54
    
The thing is that I will never know whether I will use Window or tab again just when I move away from it, and I usually come back a few times, when I feel that I need to access it. However, if some time passes, then most likely that window or tab has outdated information, and therefore it is not interesting for me. It is either that I need the information in it to be saved and window closed, or just window closing without saving. –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 6:56
    
You are right. Programs asking to save the file will freak me out. Thanks for that article! I enjoyed reading it. –  Andrey Feb 5 '10 at 7:44

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