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Complete Guide On Window Mode: How To Play Games Windowed

Updated on September 4, 2013

What A "Windowed" Game Is

Many computer videogames fans find it an excellent choice to play games in a window, as opposed to full screen - that means that the game will not occupy the whole screen but a large part of it, leaving an area for the taskbar, the desktop and the other programs running. Players find it very convenient to be able to switch between the game and the rest programs faster (and without risking a game crash) than Windows+M or Alt+Tab shortcuts, which often do not even function as they should.

With the modern monitors and the drop in prices, most users can afford a 22 inch or even larger monitor for their computer. There really is enough viewable area on the screen for a game to be played in a window yet still be large enough for the best possible gaming experience. Moreover, playing a game in a window does not affect the audio options, therefore the sound aspect of a game will not be spoiled.

A Game Played In Window

A flight video game played in window mode. You can see the desktop, taskbar and switch between windows easily.
A flight video game played in window mode. You can see the desktop, taskbar and switch between windows easily. | Source

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Window Mode: Advantages And Disadvantages

Even though window mode has many fans, many people will disagree with the use of it and will avoid it. Of course, their arguments are understandable, because playing a windowed game is not without its disadvantages, as well. So let's take a look at the two sides of the coin:

Advantages:

  • Easily switch between open windows during game, without crash risks
  • Ability to surf the net, for example while looking for game help or guides
  • Allows chat windows and messengers to still function as they should if gamer wishes to
  • Lets the user have some general monitoring on his system, for example checking the temperatures to avoid nasty surprises during high end gaming
  • Urgent e-mails or calls will not be missed
  • Possibility of multitasking, for example working on a document, during cutscenes or gaming periods which do not require full user attention (such as RPG games crafting)

Disadvantages:

  • Affects the atmosphere of the game dramatically. It is less easy to focus on a game and enjoy every moment if your mind side tracks to other programs.
  • Sometimes affects the brightness of the game in a less than favorable way; dark scenes in horror games can be so dark that you won't be able to see, or too bright.
  • In some games, window mode will not let the window be resized through the edges and in others the window will be uncontrollable, sometimes even getting lost at the edges of the screen.
  • It can be a nuisance or hassle for an amateur to set it up; that's why this guide was written though.

Many Possible Setup Ways, Depending On The Game

Each game has its own ways to allow window mode; some games will have an option in the video settings area, others will have no sign of it so the gamer will have to find other ways. That is why in this guide I will showcase the various methods to force a game in Window Mode, each with a setting up guide and explanation.

Video Options Window In The MMORPG Aion

Internal Video Settings

Most modern games will include a window mode option in their options - in a way, this change shows that game producers really believe that window mode has significant bonuses to offer to some players.

It will not be hard to find this setting, because most games include a setting up wizard the first time they are launched; if your game does not have such, you need to navigate to Options and locate the settings area for Visual or Video Options.

In here you will be able to set the screen resolution, the quality of game effects, antialiasing settings, etc. Window Mode option will either be in there as a checkbox you need to check to enable it, or it will be listed in the possible resolutions, for example as 1280x1024(Windowed).

When a game allows such easy setup of Window Mode, most often it will also allow another conveniency - resizing through the edges and moving the window to wherever you want.

You can view the screenshot on the right which is taken from the options menu of Aion to get an idea on how the Window Mode option will look like.

Adjusting The .Ini Of Sims 2 Game

Shortcut Command Line Parameters

Most games include particular settings to be adjusted, but they do not make it easy for the gamer to find them - this happens for many reasons, one of them being that these options tend to affect the way the game behaves significantly and might not be suitable for the first time gamer.
Such options are usually added as command line parameters for the game. The easiest command line parameter for any game is the one which affects the window mode; it is so easy, that might make u wonder why the game company did not place a setting for it in the Video Options menu.

How To Set It Up:

After installing the game, locate the shortcut the game generated for you, usually at the desktop. If there is no shortcut at desktop or Start Menu, navigate to the game's installation folder, locate the executable and create a shortcut for it at the desktop or anywhere else you want. When the shortcut is ready, right click it and choose Properties. Here you are presented with a window which shows the shortcut properties; the entry you wish to change is the one at Target area.

Now, there are quite many approaches for what we are adding there; you see, it still depends on the game. In any way, you need to move cursor at the end of that line, add a space, then type one of the following:
-w
-windowed
-window
-windowmode

You will be trying these by typing it after the space, clicking OK, then running the game from THAT shortcut. If the game still launches at full screen, quit it and try the next, and so on. remember to launch the game for that exact shortcut, else this settings change will not be enforced on the game.

When you add one of these parameters, your target should look something like:
"C:\Program Files\DreamCatcher\Painkiller\Bin\Painkiller.exe" -window
(This is just an example, I have not tried to see if the particular game runs in a window this way)

Hopefully, one of them should work and enable Window mode for your game. But if none works, we still got some cards up our sleeve.

.Ini File Of Titan Quest Game

The Settings .Ini File

Every game has some internal settings page, right? Well, all those settings you adjust, for example the sound level, the display options etc, they all reflect the changes on a small file located somewhere in the installation folder of the game. These files have the .ini extension, are called Configuration Files and can be opened with Notepad for user adjustments, if needed.

Changing parameters inside a configuration file can be a way to setup window mode for some games, if the other options fail. You understand, however, that this part of the guide will vary greatly between different games, so the directions will be approximate and you might need to "dig" inside the installation folder to locate this file, and then search inside it for what you want.

Taking these in account, I can only provide some generic guidelines as to what you are looking for:

  • a file with the .ini extension, located somewhere in the installation folder of the game, most probably in the root of it or in the Settings subfolder
  • Inside this file you are looking to change an entry which might have the following forms
    FullScreen=1
    FullScreen=true
    Windowed=0
    WindowMode=0
    Windowed=false


If you see the FullScreen entry, you need to disable it, if you see the Window Mode entry you need to enable it. Sometimes, there will be additional entry on the resolution while at windows mode, adjust this to your personal tastes.

The picture at the right will show you how an .ini folder looks and what kinds of entries it has. The particular one comes from an action RPG game called Titan Quest.


The Power Of Google And The Fans Community

These are the most common ways to setup and enable Window Mode for your games. There might be other ways too, such a susing external applications, but they could be risky for your system and would probably not work effectively.


Other than that, you can use Google - some fans have generated altered versions of basic DLLs of the game to force it into allowing window mode. GTA 5 was one of them and the DLL made by the game fans has been downloaded hudnreds of thousands of times. Be cautious, nevertheless and only download files from sources you trust.

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