Why does the active window in I'm working in become inactive for no reason? - General Hardware - Desktop - Dell Community

Why does the active window in I'm working in become inactive for no reason?


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Why does the active window in I'm working in become inactive for no reason?

  • My active window suddenly becomes inactive while I am using it. Does anyone know why this is happening or/and more importantly how to overcome this?
    I have tried monitoring my keystrokes to see if I am pressing any keys but sometimes this happens spontaneously without anything having been typed. This happens most whenever I am using more than one window within the SAME application, ie Word, Internet, and even BEFORE I'm online (ie logging into my provider from the Desktop).
    Grateful for any help. Thank you!
  • From_Earth,

    The difficulty that you are experiencing is a problem with software, not hardware.  For the best results, you should post your question in the appropriate softwawre forum. 

    As for possible causes -- it would seem that one of the other programs running on your system is taking precedence over the active window.  It may be a normal background process gone haywire or possibly worse.  I would suggest that you start your search for this by determining if this happens in
    Safe Mode.


  • Thanks BB - I couldn't see where to post for s/w issues so I chose this just in case it was my PC rather than application

    I'll try the safe mode option you suggest (the "or worse" comment scares me! :smileysurprised: ). Would you be able to tell me how I can run in safe mode please? I know that when the PC shuts down abnormally it gives you the option to choose, but how do you choose that mode from normal start up? Usually I just press the button and it does its own thing... thanks...

  • Always helps to include model PC, amount of memory, and version of Windows.

    It sounds like something running in the background is stealing "focus" from the active window. Try this:
    click start>run
    type in: msconfig
    click ok
    click Startup tab
    Uncheck everything on that tab, except items related to fire wall, antiviral software, video and mouse. Exit msconfig and reboot. Put check in "Don't show this again" box that appears after 1st reboot.

    See if that solves it. The items unchecked in msconfig (acrobat, realplayer, quicktime, musicmatch, jsched, etc, etc) do not have to load every time you boot the PC. They're still on your system and will run if/when you decide you need them. A lot of them are constantly trying to phone home for updates and that can steal focus from the active window.

    If that doesn't do it, go to this page and look for link to download Tweak UI, free from Microsoft. Open TUI and expand list under General at the left. Click Focus and put check in box "Prevent applications from stealing focus"



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    Forum Member since 2004

    I am NOT a Dell employee

  • From_Earth,

    Check Ron's suggestion about troubleshooting this using MSConfig.  You can also use MSConfig to get the system to start in Safe Mode.  Click Start -> Run and type in MSConfig.  Click OK.  Click the BOOT.INI tab and click the check box for /SAFEBOOT and leave the dot in MINIMAL.  Click Apply and then OK and restart the system.  It will start in Safe Mode. 

    To keep it from starting in Safe Mode, uncheck the box for /SAFEBOOT.  Click Apply, Ok and then restart the system.


  • hello all. thanks Rohe. however i can't start to even try your solution as i can't access 'Run' from my start menu. i know it used to be there however the two ways to click on it (ie to get the small list or to get the list of applications) does not contain the option anymore. i tried to go into where you can customize the taskbar/startmenu but it just gives me the option of clearing the list or adding email/internet to it. i even tried looking on the explorer list under the folder but can't see anything.
    does anyone know how to get Run to reappear on my start menu please? many thanks.
  • Sounds like you have bigger issues than something stealing focus from the active window. Suggest you run full scans with up-to-date antiviral software, followed by Ad-aware, and then Spybot Search and Destroy.

    If the system is clean, you should then run a system file check. Since you can't find Run on Start menu, press ctrl-alt-del to open Task Manager. Click File>New Task (run)
    Type in: sfc /scannow
    (space between sfc and /)
    click OK

    sfc will replace any missing/damaged XP system files. Insert XP CD if sfc requests it. Reboot when done. See if that restores your Start>run access. Then we can deal with the focus problem.


    Message Edited by RoHe on 07-06-200610:47 AM

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    Forum Member since 2004

    I am NOT a Dell employee

  • My system is Dimension 8300 and I am using Windows XP

    Thanks Ron, I did the scan however I was not asked to replace anything. I just got the Task Manager listing all the processes when I clicked on the tab but I could not make head nor tail of what I was supposed to be looking for, some were under my username, some under SYSTEM..

    On restarting I tried the Start again but no 'Run' appeared. :smileysad:

    I have Norton 2006 Antivirus/Internet/Go Back currently on the machine - however this problem has been for quite a while (altho not today! :robothappy: )

    One thing I did notice was a large memory usage (KB) for the CCAPP.EXE under the processes tab - sometimes when I log off, after logging out of Yahoo Internet and Close Down the PC I get an error message telling me CCAPP.EXE or similar has a problem or ends abnormally or something ????? I also get error messages on closing down for Yahoo sometimes. I wonder if this is linked somehow? It does give me the option to Debug but I can't understand what it is saying.

    Not sure where to go from here as I do not have the 'Run' available to me. I used to. No idea where it's gone and the scan hasn't identified it as missing... ??

    PS you also mentioned the 'bigger' problems - could you give me a clue as to the possibilities please? I need to know how bad this might be. Thanks

    EDIT: can I just add that I have noticed something called CheckIt Diagnostics on my applications menu. Should I give that a try? It gives a variety of things to check ie video, processor, modem, memory tests etc ????? grateful for any advice... esp on what to check!


    Message Edited by From_Earth on 07-06-200605:52 PM

  • Do I understand correctly that you ran system file check (sfc)? Even if sfc didn't ask for the CD, it may have restored some XP files from backup copies on the hard drive. That's the problem with sfc, you never know what it did. Did you run antiviral and anti-malware scans too?

    Since the 'run' problem isn't fixed, let's try this. Open Notepad and copy/paste the following bold text exactly as written into a blank Notepad document. The line beginning "Windows..." should be on the very first line in Notepad, the second line is blank. And no blank line after the line ending "...00000"

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


    After the copy/paste, save the file to your desktop with the name run.reg
    Make sure Notepad doesn't add .txt to the end of the file name. Close Notepad and double-click on the file you just created. Accept it's offer to modify the registry.

    Reboot when it's done and see if 'run' has magically reappeared on your Start menu.
    Post back and let us know if that fixed it. Then we'll discuss focus and the CCAPP.EXE problems.

    PCs are gray boxes into which you pour time... ;)

    Message Edited by RoHe on 07-06-200607:19 PM

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    Forum Member since 2004

    I am NOT a Dell employee

  • hmmm.. I'm going to go with the possibility of 'bigger problems', I recommend letting your system start up and 'kinda idle' for a while, then check the processes tab in your task manager, be interesting to know whats running in the background...


    As for the missing run command, I'm not sure if thats a customizible feature on the start menu, you could right click your start menu and search around in there to see if theres a box that disables run command(i'm on an adminstratively locked machine, so I cant even right click things lol).  I haven't heard of alot of virii or trojans that disable the run command, so that makes me wonder

  • Hello Ron - Many thanks for your time

    I followed your NotePad instructions and rebooted. The Run did not appear on the Start Menu.

    I went back into the Start Menu properties to see if there was anything I was missing re customisation. The only other option was to click on and select "Classic Start Menu" instead of the simple "Start Menu" I was currently using. When I clicked on Start this time Run was included on the Menu!! I have no idea whether it was your cut/paste or not. And I still have no idea why the Run is not showing on the other Start Menu (I selected it to show 10 apps instead of 5 and it still did not reappear) tho.

    The next step is for me to try your msconfig advice to see if anything is stealing 'focus'. Shall I just go and try that now??

    As an aside I did run a QuickNorton Scan and also a full Norton Spyware scan (which recommended removal of 1 item and quarantined another 3) the system scan didn't throw up anything. My system status is healthy and my Norton live updates are up to date.

    CPLyon - Task Manager advice - thanks also

    Yesterday when I followed Ron's sfc advice, around 95-99% was for my System Idle Process. Most of the others were at zero CPU, however I did notice the following files had 1% sometimes flashing up:

    PcSync2.exe, CCAPP.EXE (I think), LAUNCH~1.EXE,svchost.exe (system user name rather than mine, network service or local service), possibly a yahoo one beginning Y ie ycommon.exe, and also a Mavis Beacon application MiniMavis.exe. PS I can only quote the names as I did a printscreen but as the 1s and 0s kept changing I could not catch them.

    One thing I did notice is that most of the Image Names under the Task Manager 'Processes Tab' were only listed once. But svchost.exe with system username was listed twice. Should that be so ?


  • Glad you can 'run' now! ;)

    Yes, run now msconfig and uncheck everything including minimavis, except those related to firewall, antiviral, mouse and video. Exit msconfig and reboot. Put check in 'don't show this again" box and see if your active window loses focus. System Idle using 95-99% is good. That shows how much free CPU time you have.

    There are typically several svchost.exe running at the same time. I currently have 5 running. But look carefully. Make sure it's not sCVhost.exe which is malware.

    ccapp.exe is part of Norton and can cause trouble at shutdown. Deal with focus and then we can work on ccapp.exe.


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  • Ron - I do believe your cut/paste worked in Classic Start because when I clicked on Run via Start Menu it had the sfc command in it already :smileyhappy:  !! Thank you so much

    Just for the record I have not been having that active/inactive switching problem for the past few days! I have no idea what has happened because I have not even started on the solution yet!

    :robotwink:  ...back to business...

    I typed in "msconfig" as you have directed however altho I can see many miscellaneous items such as minimavis.exe, realplay, sonic update manager, AOL icon etc that can obviously go there are some items that look like they are part of the system ie located in program files such as modem, system dumprep (?), windows ie  \system32... I don't think I know enough to ensure that I don't uncheck something that should be checked (what could be the possible consequences)? Some items I can't even identify what they are and what they relate to... there is one item on the tab that does not have any startup item name, no command listed - instead it just has a location. Is that normal?

    I can see things like sonic update managers and tuneshelper etc can go tho... is it okay for me to uncheck those that I can recognise first or does that defeat the object?  

    Grateful for your opinion... thanks



  • As a side note, to get the run command on the XP Start menu, right click start, click properties, select Start menu, click customize, advanced tab, scroll down to Run command check it, click OK, click Apply. If it is already checked but the run command is not showing, try unchecking it, click Ok, apply, then go back and check it.

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  • Yes, start with the ones you recognize on the Startup tab and uncheck them. You can always google any Start Items you don't recognize to see what they are. But start with the obvious ones. As for the blank item on the Startup tab, that's not normal. It's probably a leftover from something that was incompletely uninstalled from your PC. You can uncheck it for now. There is a way to identify this mystery item, but let's hold on that until all the other issues are resolved.

    Exit msconfig and reboot after you've unchecked the ones you don't want to run every time, and then put check in "don't show this again" box that appears when you reboot. Run the PC for a few days to see if the focus problem comes back. Some of the updaters activate on a set cycle, so it's possible the cycle has passed and it may be a few days/weeks before one of them comes back to make you crazy again.

    Even if the focus issue has been resolved, you don't need all that 'stuff' starting every time you boot the PC.

    And thanks to JR for that reminder about the run command.


    Message Edited by RoHe on 07-08-200608:47 PM

    If this answers your question, please click  Yes


    Forum Member since 2004

    I am NOT a Dell employee