Man, nothing bothers me more than computer applications that insist on going full-screen in Windows. (OK, some things bother me more. But it *is* annoying.) This behavior seems to be prevalent in many computer games, and I can’t for the life of me understand why developers insist on abusing their users in this way. Hey people, I have a freaking GIGANTIC monitor with enough space to view many applications at once. Why should I have to devote all 26″ of my screen real estate to a game that can easily run in an 800×600 window?

Unfortunately, there is not always an easy solution to this problem. However, there are a few things you, kind user, can do to try to fix this broken-by-design behavior.

1. Try hitting “ALT-Enter” while the game or application is running. ALT-ENTER is a Windows key command that instructs an application to run in windowed mode. Depending on which game you are playing, this may work. (This is the easiest solution.)

2. Try altering the command line switch in the application shortcut to specify windowed mode. Here’s how:

  1. Right click on the shortcut of the file and go to properties.
  2. Go to the box that says “target.” It’ll look something like: “C:\Program Files\Warcraft III\Frozen Throne.exe”. Add the switch “-window” to end of the command. For instance, in the above example, it’ll then look like this: “C:\Program Files\Warcraft III\Frozen Throne.exe” -window
  3. If adding “-window” doesn’t work, try adding just “-w”. (This works for some Sims games, like Sims2.)
  4. If neither of those work, check the user manual to see if there is another switch that does work. If you find one, post it in the comments to help other people out!

For this method to work, the game developers must have specifically coded for this option. It will not work on all games.

3. Try using DXWNnd. There’s a program out there that’s called “dxwnd.” This program intercepts DirectX applications and forces them to run in windowed mode. I have had mixed results with this program – the colors don’t always render properly. Still, it’s worth a shot. To try this method, do the following:

  1. Download and save dxwnd.exe
  2. Right click the dxwnd’s window pane
  3. Select “Add”
  4. Use the “…” button to browse for your fullscreened executable
  5. Select the DirectX version of your executable if it’s known, if not, leave it set to “Automatic”
  6. If your executable runs in 256 (8-bit) colored mode, check the “Emulate 256 Color Palette” check box
  7. Click “OK”
  8. Now that you have an entry for your executable, simply double click it or run the game/application itself. What’s neat is as long as dwwnd is running, it will intercept the launching of the application itself, so it’s not necessary to use dxwnd itself to start your game/application

This is an old tool, and I was not able to get it to work properly on any of my games. I hope it works for you, though!

4. “Sizer” lets you automatically resize a window. Another option to try is the freeware Sizer application. Sizer allows you to resize any window to an exact, predefined size.

  1. Download and install Sizer.
  2. Run the program. It will appear in your system tray.
  3. Run the program you want to resize. Hit ALT-TAB to show the Windows Start Bar. Right click on the Application and choose the desired size.

I was able to get Sizer to work on my Magic: The Gathering game, but not on Jeopardy: 2003.

5. Virtualization method: If the above fail, and you still want to run this application in a window, consider setting up a Virtual PC and running the application within it. To do this, you’ll need to download virtualization software like Sun’s Virtual Box, set up a virtual PC running Windows (Or OSX, whatever your poison :), then install the software into that virtual machine. This is by far the most complicated method and may not be for everybody. But it *should* work each and every time.

I had to use the VirtualBox method to get my Jeopardy 2003 game to run in windowed mode. If you are able to get any of your games running in windowed mode, post how you did it in the comments!