Microsoft Office applications on Windows behave like Mac OS - if a window does not have input focus, then clicking one of its buttons only focuses the window and you have to click again to activate the button (or other control).

This would be annoying enough if it was consistent with other apps, but it's not even consistent with other Microsoft apps like Explorer.

This post "First mouse click sets focus but is otherwise ignored" describes the problem well but the moderator didn't get it, and it has been ignored.

This one "Windows requires a click to activate a window before a second click will select a button. How can I change this?" was about developing code rather than general user configuration.

One workaround is to enable "Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse" from the Control Panel, but that is not to everyone's taste and changes the behaviour of the whole desktop rather than just fixing the broken apps.

Is there a way to stop Office apps ignoring click on unfocussed window without changing the behaviour of the whole desktop?

  • 1
    I was about to ask this question, too. Really strange that no one knows an answer. Maybe asking on some Office forum?
    – Uwe Keim
    Jul 21, 2013 at 19:57
  • Odd. I never noticed this disparity, but it indeed doesn't make sense. No matter what your preference, at least within Microsoft stuff it should be consistent, in one way or the other. Good question.
    – Ariane
    Aug 20, 2013 at 17:49
  • 3
    In some situations, the Office team went to great lengths to make Office swallow clicks and not respond to them: blogs.msdn.com/b/jensenh/archive/2006/01/26/517851.aspx Aug 22, 2013 at 15:07
  • 7
    The article posted by @TessellatingHeckler makes it clear that the real problem is the ribbon. They are hacking the focus model to support this new (new != better) context-oriented menuing system. I think this supports the notion that static toolbars and dropdown menus contribute to a smoother workflow. I have used Office for many years and still find myself searching through the ribbon to find something the used to be easily accessible via a dropdown or toolbar. More importantly, and more on-topic, the double-click-focus issue, when switching from another app, is maddening. Feb 6, 2014 at 20:23
  • 1
    I'd love to see a solution for this as well. Unfortunately, the "solution" that works great for me at home (using LibreOffice instead of MS) ins't an option at work. Mar 25, 2015 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure that the handling of mouse click activation is up to the application and is not configurable at a system wide level.


  • 5
    Clearly it's up to the application as Office does it differently from other apps. I don't want to change anything system-wide, I want to fix Office. If it's impossible to fix Office, I would consider an app that watched for mouse clicks over inactive windows and activated them before they received the click. Possible?
    – Denis Howe
    Feb 7, 2014 at 13:01
  • @DenisHowe : I would guess that AutoHotkey may be able to do that.
    – TOOGAM
    Jan 4, 2017 at 3:55

This may not be quite what you are after, but it seems to work for me.


It switches focus to the window the mouse is currently over. For Office, this is effectively that 'first click' to gain focus. The (possibly unfortunate) side effect is that anything you hover over comes to the front - just like you clicked on it.

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