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On Windows 7, is there any way to make the scrollwheel's focus follow the mouse?

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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.

Answers

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.

http://www.highrez.co.uk/downloads/XMouseButtonControl.htm

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

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.

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.

NEW INFO:

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.

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.

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.

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