Scroll background window




Last year we wrote about a useful program called WizMouse that would let you scroll windows that were in the background (i.e. a window not in focus).  I use this kind of functionality all the time when writing articles, but it also carries over into other situations. For example, the other day I had two spreadsheets open and was comparing values between them. Normally in Windows I’d have to constantly switch focus between the two spreadsheets if I wanted to scroll each of them. With an app like WizMouse that’s not the case because I can simply hover my mouse over any window, and then use my scroll wheel to navigate through the content. This kind of behavior is built-in to Mac OS X, but not Windows.

I’m not here to talk about WizMouse though. When we wrote the article Amber left a comment with an alternative app called KatMouse. It has some settings that set it apart such as the ability to push in the middle mouse button to have it send the foreground window to the background. You can also specify custom scroll settings on a per-application basis, which is definitely helpful for those programs that seem to scroll at different rates. Plus you can always click on the cat icon in the System Tray to quickly disable/enable the functionality.

How do some of these features work? Here’s a slightly abbreviated version of the KatMouse usage as described by the developer:

  • Scroll most windows page wise by holding the wheel button over the window and clicking the left (up) or right (down) mouse button. If you hold the left or right mouse button, you’ll get continuous, accelerating pagewise scrolling.
  • To push a window to the stack bottom, just click with the wheel button on the window (double click on ‘always on top’ windows). This works even while dragging something with the mouse (i.e. copying files from one explorer to another). To raise that window again, click and hold the wheel button on it for some time.
  • Choose individual wheel scroll settings for applications and windows. In the Applications tab, choose the applications executable file in the file dialog and set the desired scroll width by double clicking on the new entry in the list.
  • In the Classes tab you can select the kind of window (its class) to customize by draggin the crosshair to the window. If the chosen window does not behave correctly you can disable the ‘Window has wheel scrolling support’ checkbox in its settings dialog. This will force KatMouse to use a different, possibly less efficient approach to scrolling the window.

The good news is that KatMouse is just as efficient as WizMouse in terms of memory usage. I found it consuming a mere 1.1MB on my system, and I’m definitely willing to give it those resources for the functionality I get in return.

KatMouse Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)