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On Mac OS X I can mouse over something (without clicking on it or giving it complete focus) and use the scroll wheel to scroll it. On Windows (7 at least) which I'm forced to use in my new job, it does not work this way. Is there any way to change this behavior?

I notice that Firefox does this within the app: if any Firefox windows have focus then you can scroll any other Firefox window that doesn't. (So at least the Firefox people think this is a useful feature! And so anyone not familiar with how it works on OS X can see what I'm talking about.)

I remember TweakUI (which does not seem to be available for Windows 7) having a setting for "Focus follows mouse", but I don't recall if it allowed setting that only for the scroll wheel. I don't want the full X-Windows style focus-follows-mouse setting, just the ability to scroll whatever I mouse over.

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i like this feature too, but i'm on linux (Debian 5.0.8) with Gnome 2.22.3; i even modified mupdf (a fast pdf viewer) to page with the scroll wheel. –  Dan D. Dec 16 '11 at 17:13
An explanation of how you modified mupdf, explaining each line of code added/modified/removed would make an interesting blog post! –  iconoclast May 10 '12 at 14:24
Possible duplicate: superuser.com/questions/29459/… –  bytebuster Jul 25 '12 at 11:13
If your work upgrades you from Windows 7 to 8, bear in mind that this and other programs like it (all the ones I've tried anyway) break scrolling in the Metro/Modern UI. In other words, these scrolling programs work as expected in the classic desktop view, but when you switch to the Metro/Modern UI, you won't be able to mouse scroll in some or all of the apps. It's really annoying, and I haven't found a solution yet. –  user248032 Aug 23 '13 at 17:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

To get my Windows installation to scroll like Linux does (whatever the mouse is over is scrolled without necessarily having to have focus), I use a very small freeware app called AlwaysMouseWheel. Couldn't live without it on Windows.

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This is awesome! It works, and since it is portable I don't have to get permission from my manager to install it. (A nasty side-effect of working in a Windows shop is the paranoia about installing software.) –  iconoclast May 3 '12 at 14:07
Glad it works - it doesn't require installation, so it's easy to run from a USB stick or something and you don't have to worry about admin rights etc. –  Amos M. Carpenter May 3 '12 at 14:14
coming from a late google search, this app is perfect... thanks. –  mtm Oct 11 '12 at 16:59
Very helpful app. Tyvm. –  Dubmun May 6 at 19:56
Fantastic. Highly recommended by my mouse –  Paul Warelis Nov 11 at 1:35

My favored solution is to use Wizmouse.

The Ease of Access setting merely sets Window Focus. Wizmouse sends scroll commands to the underlying window without setting the active window.

There are a few caveats. Namely, WPF and Silverlight application with subpanes won't play nice. For WPF application examples that would be Visual Studios and Expressions Studios. Some areas of Powerpoint also get whacked, but otherwise it performs as expected.

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This seems to recreate the OS X style of scrolling non-focused windows quite well, a new must-have program on my Windows machines! –  Nick Dec 16 '11 at 19:31
Sorry I haven't tested this yet because it is hard to get permission for installation of software that doesn't help me do development in some obvious way. (Anything that modifies the OS's default behavior is especially highly suspect.) –  iconoclast May 3 '12 at 14:09
The Visual Studio bug appears to be fixed with current versions of both WizMouse and Visual Studio 2013. Sometimes the VS window gets pulled up above the others while it scrolls, but it does get scrolled. –  Warren Young Oct 23 '13 at 22:08
This is awesome. This works perfectly in Visual Studio 2005/2010 giving focus to the various panes without having to click to get the focus. I tryed out alwaysmousewheel but that does not work so well with VS. Thanks. –  vaitrafra Jun 18 at 8:21


If you've got Windows 7, it's in the accessibility settings: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/switch-windows-by-hovering-the-mouse-over-a-window-in-windows-vista/

Some mouse drivers all this. It's a modification of "set focus".

Basically, in Windows the developers assumed you may not necessarily want to control what your mouse is over, and so they told the system to wait for you to click on a window before focus was removed from the previous window and assigned to the one you selected.

If the system is set to "set focus" to whichever program your mouse pointer is over, if you're merely trying to get your mouse out of the way and you move it over a different window, whatever you are doing will start occurring in whatever window your mouse is over. You cannot separate "scroll focus" from "full focus".

As long as you're aware of this and know how it may affect how you use your computer, if your mouse is capable of this (it's dependent on your mouse and drivers) you should find an option in your Mouse settings in the Control Panel.

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This is not what I was asking for. That setting brings the window to the top. I simply want to scroll it where it is. This was explained in the last paragraph of my question, especially the last sentence. –  iconoclast May 10 '12 at 14:21

X-Button Mouse Control!

This thing rocks... it is very intuitive to tech-people, don't know about to a normal person ) but if you figure it out, it is really powerful.


and yes it solves this scroll/hover problem too...

but it is so much more

For instance some of the things I use it for:

  • I have a Logitech Marathon mouse which is great because it has hyperscrolling and the batteries last 2 years but in Chrome for some reason when the hyper wheel is spinning, sometimes it can zoom your pages when you press CTRL. This happens a lot. So with this app I disable ctrl-mouse wheel when chrome is being used. Something that cannot be done by chrome itself

    • I set it up to alt-wheel up/down control the system volume. Quite useful

    • I configured alt-left click to take a screen shot of the active window, alt-right click for a full screenshot

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