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I use keyboard shortcuts rather heavily. I have a dual monitor setup. I also have virtuawin so I can switch between desktops.

The result of all this is that sometimes I will start using keyboard shortcuts in the wrong window. This can have disastrous effects. For example, what if I think I'm in firefox and use Ctrl-L to go to the location bar, but instead I end up deleting a line in Visual Studio 2008 (without noticing it?!). This could be very, very bad.

Is there a way that I can make it blindingly obvious which window is active? For example, could I find some tool which will gray out any inactive windows?

I would be willing to use autohotkey or a variety of other advanced tools to set up a solution.

Thanks.

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this problem has gotten so much worse in Windows 7. Wish I knew a simple trick to bring Win7 at least up to the WinXP level of picking out the active window. right now I have to activate and unactivate a window while looking at the title bar and toolbar button down below to figure it out. – jacobsee Oct 4 '12 at 19:33
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Are you looking for more granularity than this?

alt text

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2  
Problem with that is that it forces you to use the super ugly Windows Classic skin... – digitxp Sep 10 '10 at 14:57
    
I would prefer a way to dim an entire window when it's inactive, but this helps. +1 – K Robinson Sep 10 '10 at 19:10
    
Any ideas on how to make this work for office 2007? – K Robinson Sep 10 '10 at 19:54
    
There's good news and bad news. The good is that you can change the Word color scheme. It's described at office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/…. The bad news if that your choices are pretty limited. You'll find more information at technologyquestions.com/technology/microsoft-office/…. – BillP3rd Sep 10 '10 at 20:30

Check out this AutoHotKey script.

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1  
A little buggy (even the "improved" version linked at the bottom) but a great idea regardless, especially for those who's eyes strain easily. – John T Sep 10 '10 at 1:12
    
Linux (Compiz) has a plugin called ADD Helper that does the same thing. – digitxp Sep 10 '10 at 14:56
    
@JohnT: your note led me to find the ghoster.ahk thread; I found a 2008 version here which works OK: autohotkey.com/forum/post-188098.html#188098 but it has some bugs when dealing with some modal dialogs and it also breaks keepass's Ctrl-V capability. – K Robinson Sep 10 '10 at 19:27

Simple AHK solution, make the window blink:

SetTitleMatchMode,Fast
^x::
WinGetActiveTitle, Title
WinGetPos, X, Y, Width, Height, %Title%
Loop, 3
{
   WinHide,%Title%
   WinShow,%Title%
}
return
share|improve this answer
    
That looks like a great idea. Can autohotkey automatically detect when a new window gains focus? I need something that doesn't involve an active action to find out what's active (if I remembered to use a hotkey, I would just remember to glance at the title bar more carefully all the time). – K Robinson Sep 10 '10 at 18:51

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