Monday, August 23, 2010

Play Any Game In Borderless Windowed Fullscreen (aka Maximized Window)

World of Warcraft and StarCraft II fullscreen side by side, as God intended.
Update 20 March 2012: please refer to this page on PCGamingWiki for further updates on borderless fullscreen windowed mode for any game.

Games like StarCraft II and World of Warcraft provide the option to run their game in "Windowed Fullscreen" (aka Maximized Window). Also modern Valve Source games such as Left 4 Dead, Alien Swarm and Half-Life 2 natively support this mode, calling it "Windowed (No Border)". This is basically a normal windowed game where the window has been stretched to fit the screen in such a way that it looks maximized (by hiding borders of the window and the title bar).

This has several advantages to running a game in traditional fullscreen mode:

1) Ability to alt-tab quickly at any moment, even during loading screens.
2) Does not disturb multi-monitor set ups during loading.
3) Generally more stable experience.

For games which do not natively support Windowed Fullscreen, there are a number of ways to make sure that a game runs in windowed mode but is maximized to fill the entire fullscreen. These methods are compatible with any game able to display in a window. For best effect the window should have the same aspect ratio as your monitor.

Guide To Using ShiftWindow

ShiftWindow is a handy little utility developed by Grimsar to help automate the process of making any game run in Windowed Fullscreen.

Let me show you how it works through something like Dragon Age: Origins.

Step 1) Download and install ShiftWindow (my guide is updated for version 1.02)

Step 2) Run your game (Dragon Age: Origins) and in the video options, untick the checkbox for "Play in full-screen mode".

Step 3) Run ShiftWindow and apply the following:

a) Click the first "Grab ..." box, and find your "Dragon Age: Origins" window.

b) Check the "Coordinates" radial, and also the "Set client size area". This will determine how large the window is and how many pixels from the top left corner of the screen the window will be.

This should look something like this.
Step 4) Click "Trigger it" in the top right corner to apply the settings. Congratulations! You can now switch off ShiftWindow and alt-tab to your heart's content.

Tips For Using ShiftWindow

To save your settings, make sure that you save the rule file somewhere first. ShiftWindow does not automatically load your last set of rules, nor does it automatically save changes.

To make sure that the rules are loaded up automatically, you will need to apply a file association of that program to the .swr file (the ShiftWindow rule file). You can then load the .swr instead of the ShiftWindow program. One ideal place to put your .swr file would be your startup folder so that it runs every time your computer boots up to avoid unnecessary clicking.


Lord Of The Rings Online
Civilization V

Update 15/02/11:
If you have an issue with the taskbar popping up over the window, I recommend using this application listed on this forum to disable taskbar on top of window.

Many games, such as Dragon Age: Origins, require that a window be a certain aspect ratio in order for the mouse to function accurately. For example, if you run in 4:3 (1024x768) but stretch to fill widescreen using the ShiftWindow method (for example 16:9 (1920x1080), you will probably face some accuracy issues. The best thing to do is try to keep the aspect ratio the same.

I am personally having issues with making some games fill out the entire screen using ShiftWindow. Windowed modes in games work better in some than in others.

Update  27/02/11:
For those who have issues with the Windows Taskbar overlapping a window, this tool developed by user 'tweaker' is able to disable the on top property of the taskbar. This has helped me to solve the majority of the borderless windowed issues I've been having.