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I play poker online. When a decision is required, the relevant window activates and brings itself in front of all other windows, so that I can act in time. However, I can pay attention to all opened poker tables on my own, and thus, this feature has little to offer me. It can get extremely annoying though, for example when I start typing something into an email but suddenly get switched mid-air to the poker table chat box.

Fortunately, some of the more advanced poker software has an option to turn off this aggressive behavior. However, others don't. Is there any kind of system tweak or tool that can block software from activating its windows? I want to be in total control regarding what window is active, at least for my poker playing sessions.

I use Windows XP.

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Are these new windows being created, or windows that are already open changing their z-order? – John T Nov 10 '09 at 20:04
They are already open. Also, I suspect it's not about which window is in front, but rather which window is active. – manilow Nov 10 '09 at 20:14
What program do you use to play poker? – music2myear Feb 13 '12 at 14:48
Possible duplicate of Preventing applications from stealing focus – Peter Mortensen Feb 13 '12 at 14:56

Microsoft's Tweak UI for Windows XP can help with this. Once installed, go to the General Settings --> Focus and check the "Prevent Applications from stealing focus" box. It will continue to flash the button in the taskbar, but you can limit that.

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Thank you! Almost there! The poker software doesn't take away focus any more from other programs, and this is great. One problem remains: the different windows of the same poker client still rob the focus from each other. Is there anything that can be done to prevent this? – manilow Nov 10 '09 at 23:10
Not with Tweak UI, unfortunately. I don't know any way of preventing different windows of the same software from stealing from each other as I think Windows sees them as one and the same and therefore, they must get managed internally (my own theory) so why should Windows do anything about it? – Tom Nov 11 '09 at 0:16

You may have a look at Actual Window Manager then (it's not free, but far more sophisticated than Eusing's Auto Window Manager).

  • Actual, Window Manager is shareware, try before you buy (60 days evaluation period).*

Personally, I swear by this extraordinary piece of software.

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See the free Eusing Auto Window Manager:

Auto Window Manager automatically manages any window you specify. For instance, some web browsers open up in a non-maximized window. Using Auto Window Manager, you can set those windows to automatically maximize (minimize, normal, minimize to tray, stay on top) every time they opened. It works with almost any program, including web browsers, Notepad, etc. Auto Window Manager stays running in the system tray, so it stays out of your way while it works.

  • Automatically maximize or minimize or normal all new windows you specify.
  • Automatically minimize all new windows you specify to system tray.
  • Automatically keep all new windows you specify always on top.
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Thanks, but unfortunately no good. First, it doesn't work. Even if I set a program to always be in front and type something into it, I still end up in the poker chat box. (It's probably because the thing that matters is the focus, not the z-order.) Second, even if it worked it wouldn't be good since it requires that I explicitly specify windows whose focus cannot be taken away. I want all windows be like that. I want to be the only agent in the system that can change window focus. – manilow Nov 10 '09 at 20:38

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