PC games run in full window, meaning that the user does not see anymore the windows taskbar. However, sometimes this is not desirable; some people like gaming into a smaller window, something that will allow them to use other programs too, such as internet messagers, chats or have the ability to surf the web.
Though it is without any doubt a worse gaming experience when the user does not use the whole monitor surface, it does seem a reasonable choice for some people. Through the next steps I will show the possible ways that will or could work on your game and system.
It is advisable that you try the different methods, starting from the first one, until you find one that works on your game. Here it must be noted however, that some games simply cannot be played windowed.
Check the Options menu of the game you are running. Usually in Graphics area, where you are asked for the preferred resolution, there is a checkbox that can be checked to allow Window Mode. If you cannot locate it, scroll through the possible resolutions to find some which might say something like "1024 X 768 Windowed". If you find the window mode option here, don't forget to set the resolution of the game slightly smaller than your desktop resolution.
If options do not show a hint about window mode setup, you need to start with the possible work-arounds. For the first of these you need to do the following:
Enter the game installation path and search for an .ini file. These files have crucial settings on how the game will work. If you find what you are looking for, open it with notepad and check around its lines. Here what you will see depends much on the game, but what you are looking for is something like "EnableWindowMode=0" or "PlayInWindow=0". THese lines typically are located near the resolution lines. Anything you find with the word "Window" could be the one you need to adjust. JUst change the 0 into 1, save the file and exit. Maybe it is better if you check near the Window line to see if there are other lines which would counter the setting you just changed, such as a "EnableFullScreen=1".
If the above didn't work, we will attempt the most common work-around. Create a shortcut to the game on your desktop, if there isn't one already there. Right click it and enter Properties. At Target area, you need to add some words at the end of the line. You need to add "-w" or "-window" or "-windowed" so that the text looks similar to the example I will give:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Mythology\aom.exe" -w
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Mythology\aom.exe" -window
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Mythology\aom.exe" -windowed
Click OK and try to run the game from this shortcut after each change you have made. If -w didn't work, try the next, etc etc.
If the above didn't work, chances are the game cannot run in window mode. However, there is still something that we can try.
Download DXWND.This little tool was developed for Maple Story but could work for other games too. It has some settings through which you indicate what your game's executable is by browsing to it. Also you select which DirectX version the game uses, though the automatic selection is the best choice. Choose the line of your executable and Run it through this application. If it does not load properly or if it loads on Full Screen still, try to experiment a bit with the DirectX settings.
Last step you need to try, if your game is insisting on staying at Full Screen, is Google. In some particular games which resisted all of my attempts to push them in window mode, I found a solution through the web. For example, for a few of the Need For Speed games, some dedicated users had created some dll files which could alter the internal settings of the game and forced it in window mode. However, be cautious while searching and visiting sites which could potentially be dangerous. Scan everything you download with antivirus and antispyware for added security and pay attention to the comments boxes, if there are such, before you even download.
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Hansi on June 27, 2013:
Thanks a lot for this guide, really helped me out. Tried everything until the DXWND program, and that fixed it for me. Really nice guide
Icematikx from United Kingdom, Staffordshire on July 30, 2012:
Nice article! I've had trouble in the past with playing some games in Windowed Mode!