How to Play a Computer Game in Windowed Mode

Steps to Open Games in Windowed Mode

Man playing computer game using joystick, high angle view
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Most computer games will take over the whole screen when you play. However, depending on whether the developer allows it, you might be able to play it in a window (not full screen).

The process to window a game might take just a few seconds if the method you try ends up working for you. However, some games don't natively support windowed mode, so you may have to take some large steps to prevent it from taking up the whole screen.

How to Window a Game

Below are some other ways to window a game, but these steps are the most common in the Windows operating system:

  1. Right-click or tap-and-hold the shortcut for the computer game you want to play in windowed mode. If you don't see it on the desktop, you can make the shortcut yourself.

    To make a new shortcut to a game or program in Windows, either drag it to the desktop from the Start menu or right-click (or tap-and-hold if you're on a touch screen) the executable file and choose Send to > Desktop. A shortcut will be made automatically.
  2. Select Properties.
  3. In the Shortcut tab, in the Target: field, add -window or -w at the end of the file path. If one doesn't work, try the other.
  4. Click or tap OK.
  5. If you're prompted with an "Access Denied" message, you may need to confirm that you're an administrator.

Alternative Ways to Window a Game

  1. Some Steam and other games can be opened in windowed mode by hitting the Alt + Enter keys together while in the game.
  1. Another way some games store full-screen mode settings is in an INI file. Some might use the line "dWindowedMode" to define whether to run the game in windowed mode or not. If there's a number after that line, make sure it's 1. Some may use True/False to define that setting.

    Like this: dWindowedMode=1 or dWindowedMode=true
  1. Run the game through virtualization software like VirtualBox or VMware.

    Although this method isn't ideal because of the computer resources it takes to run it, and the fact that you have to have another copy of an operating system, you can definitely run a full-screen game within a regular window by virtualizing the whole operating system.


    When you run a virtual Windows XP, for example, to play an old computer game, you can run Windows XP in your regular version of Windows and then have the game play in full screen within the Windows XP computer. This essentially windows the game even if it only works in full-screen mode.

Remember:

  • Not all games can be played in windowed mode.
  • Reverse any of the changes mentioned above if you decide you want to play the game in full screen or regular mode again.