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When an app is out of bounds, most users describe it as an app that opens but isn’t visible, or that they can see a thumbnail preview of it on the taskbar or alt-tab, but it’s nowhere to be seen.
Usually this happens if there has been a change to desktop topology like your your on-screen desktop size, display resolution, or DPI scaling factor. These changes can be caused by the user (changing the settings directly), implicitly trigged by changes to the physical display layout (plugging or unplugging a monitor, connecting to a projector), or trigged by opening a program that changes the resolution (most often games).
In my case it also happens anytime my DisplayPort connected monitor is turned off or on, something for which the monitor manufacturer (Samsung) and dock manufacturer (Microsoft) mutually blame each other. But I digress.
There are a few ways to fix the issue, and they all involve the keyboard. The mouse would only be useful if the app was already visible on the screen, in which case you could just drag it back into place and probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post right now.
Here’s what I’d try, with the easiest first.
Unlike most tips for when you run into trouble, these steps can be safely practiced anytime, even if you’re not currently experiencing this problem.
Windows Logo Key Method
- Make sure the out-of-view program is active is the active window that will receive keyboard input. Its taskbar button should be highlighted — if it’s not, click it now.
- Hold down the Windows logo key, then tap the up-arrow on your keyboard.
This should maximize the program to fill your entire display. If you see the program now, drag it down from the top of the screen to position and resize as you please. Do not click the “restore” caption button (between – and ×), as that will restore the window to its former position, out of sight.
Control Menu Method
This method is what us nerds did to solve this problem before the Windows logo + arrows shortcuts existed, and it’s a little more complicated.
- As the previous method, first make sure the program is active. If not, make sure it is by alt-tab’ing to it first, or clicking the program’s icon on the taskbar.
- Hold down the Alt key, then type a single space. The system menu for that program window should appear.
- Choose Move from that menu.
- Immediately tap any arrow key on your keyboard once. Your mouse pointer arrow should disappear (do not be alarmed).
- Carefully and without clicking, move your mouse pointer around.
As you move your mouse, you should find that the window is “stuck” to your cursor, allowing you to position it where you want and then click to release it.
The Snap Method
This method is very similar to the first, but it is worth sharing and is helpful all the time, even if your window hasn’t been lost off-screen.
- While the window is active, hold down the Windows logo key and type a left or right arrow. This will snap the active program to one half of your display.
- Continue holding the logo while you press that arrow multiple times until the window is where you want it.
Related: That Windows button on your keyboard can do much more, and Microsoft PowerToys shows many common options when you hold the key down for a second.
My favorite is the numbers to open or switch to a window based on the icon position of the taskbar. I used Win+2 to open the snipping tool for years (until the PrintScreen key was able to do it directly).