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.

UPDATE: According to @Mikey's comment, this is now built into Windows 10.

UPDATE: it has been suggested that my question is a duplicate of this question. That question seems to be concerned specifically with multiple controls on a single window, where keyboard focus is on the wrong control, but not on the wrong window. I'm asking about a situation with multiple windows. Any given solution has the potential to handle both use cases, but it is not a foregone conclusion that it would. It would be possible for any piece of software to handle one use case and not the other. They are similar, but they are not the same question.

  • 1
    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, 2011 at 17:13
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    An explanation of how you modified mupdf, explaining each line of code added/modified/removed would make an interesting blog post!
    – iconoclast
    May 10, 2012 at 14:24
  • Possible duplicate: superuser.com/questions/29459/… Jul 25, 2012 at 11:13
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    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, 2013 at 17:52
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    @none: this was posted in 2011, and you marked it as a duplicate of something posted in 2013!? Please pay attention to dates.
    – iconoclast
    Feb 15, 2016 at 13:38

8 Answers 8


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:

  • In the 'Default' profile change 'Wheel Up' to 'Scroll Window Up' and 'Wheel Down' to 'Scroll Window Down'.

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

    • I set 'Alt' key to activate 'Layer 2' (Settings > Modifier Keys), then on 'Default' profile in the Layer 2 I set Wheel Up/Down to scroll Window Left/Right respectively.

  • 2
    After getting frustrated with AlwaysWheelMouse I've switched to this. It does so much more than AlwaysWheelMouse, and without the annoyances (a splash screen that always appears even when you've set it not to, and a button that implies it dismisses the splash screen actually closing the program).
    – iconoclast
    Dec 1, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    it's the best, but if want something just as awesome to use (you can use both of them together)... download Strokes Plus. It's highly configurable, very accurate gesture recognition (i.e. hold right mouse button down and draw something - like for me I have a slash to open explorer... a V for chrome, and many many others like all the built in copy/paste, close window, maximize window, minimize window) strokesplus.com - oh, hmm.. according to video there it can also do the mouse scroll thing... didn't know that.
    – Mikey
    Dec 1, 2014 at 18:21
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    – CroCo
    Oct 30, 2015 at 13:21

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.

  • 2
    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, 2012 at 14:07
  • I had problems with this one, it kept stopping working after a random while. I had better luck with Wizmouse.
    – user422990
    Feb 26, 2015 at 18:04
  • Does not work for me anymore on Win7. XButtonMouseControl works great though. May 18, 2016 at 20:17
  • @PaulSlocum: Have you tried running it as admin? If running in normal mode, it won't scroll windows that run in admin mode. Up until recently, I worked at a place where they had some strange group policy that would periodically interfere with it, and I didn't have admin rights (win7), so I'd have to kill and restart it every few days. Works fine at home (win7, normal mode) and at my new place of work (win8, admin mode), though. May 18, 2016 at 22:48
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    74K download size has to be mentioned in today's MB/GB world!
    – Codism
    Jun 7, 2016 at 15:00

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.

  • 1
    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, 2011 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, 2012 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. Oct 23, 2013 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, 2014 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.

  • 6
    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, 2012 at 14:21
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    Without Admin privileges, while not perfect, this solutions seems the closest option. Oct 18, 2017 at 15:23
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    I agree with @iconoclast this is not entirely what was asked for (and FWIW what I was after as well) but it does the job. Dec 1, 2017 at 15:51

taekwindow is a free (BSD license) sofware which solves this problem.

What exactly does it do?

In full detail, Taekwindow allows you to do the following:

  • move a window by grabbing it anywhere (not just the title bar) while holding the Alt key, and then dragging with the left mouse button;
  • resize a window by grabbing it anywhere (not just the tiny little border) while holding the Alt key, and then dragging with the right mouse button;
  • move a maximized window between monitors by Alt-dragging;
  • use the scroll wheel on the window under the cursor, instead of the currently focused window;
  • push a window to the background by middle-clicking on its title bar.

All these features can be configured to your liking.

  • When you start running taekwindow, its icon appears in the system tray.
  • Right click on it and choose Preferences...
  • Then go to the Scrolling tab and check Scroll the window under the cursor.
  • You can have taekwindow starting automatically by checking Start when logging on in the General tab.
  • 1
    Please read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. At the very least you should provide more than just/at least a link, for example some additional information about the software itself, and how it can be used to solve the problem in the question.
    – DavidPostill
    Aug 24, 2015 at 13:24

AltDrag, which is a tool to enable Linux-line moving and resizing of windows by clicking anywhere while holding the ALT key, also has this feature. In the configuration. under General, select "Scroll inactive windows".


DIY registry hack:

  1. Run regedit (Win+R, regedit, OK)
  2. Open up the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse
  3. Change the value of the REG_DWORD ActiveWindowTracking to 0x0000001 (1)
  4. Open up the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  5. Logical OR the first byte of the REG_BINARY UserPreferencesMask with 01. That is, if the current value is df 3e 03 80 12 00 00 00, then leave the ‘df’ alone. If it’s 9e 03 07 80 12 00 00 00 , change it to 9f .. .. and so on *

I've used Sine Walker's tutorial. Go there for more help and details.

  • This is (according to the tutorial) an X11-style focus-follows-mouse, which is specifically not what I want.
    – iconoclast
    Dec 16, 2014 at 15:45
  • Oh now I see what you mean. It is really annoying in the long run. I switched to @Amos M. Carpenter solution with AlwaysMouseWheel.
    – tutejszy
    Dec 19, 2014 at 10:36
  • I recommend you try X-Button Mouse Control. No annoying splash screen to always dismiss, and a ton of other features too. Also, since your answer doesn't really solve the problem raised in the question, it's probably best to delete it before anyone downvotes.
    – iconoclast
    Dec 19, 2014 at 19:20

You can do it in Windows 7 by going to start then search for "Change how your mouse works".

Select the checkbox for Activate a window by hovering mouse over it.


  • 1
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