How To Keep App Windows Always on Top in Mac OSX Effortlessly

  • Discover the best apps and native macOS features to keep any window always on top
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts and settings to effortlessly manage window positioning
  • Explore tips and tricks to boost your productivity on Mac

Keeping certain app windows always visible on top of others can be a huge productivity booster. Whether you need to monitor a chat app, reference instructions, or keep an eye on a video while working, having key windows persistently on top makes multitasking much smoother. While Windows has a built-in “Always on Top” option, macOS lacks this functionality out of the box. But don’t worry, with the right apps and settings, you can easily achieve the same on your Mac.

The Built-in Picture-in-Picture Mode

Before exploring third-party apps, it’s worth mentioning that macOS has a native Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode that allows you to float video players on top of other windows. To activate PiP mode, simply right-click (or control-click) on a web video and select “Picture in Picture” from the menu.

This is a handy feature for keeping videos visible while you work on other tasks. However, it’s limited to video players and doesn’t work for other types of apps or windows.

Third-Party Apps for Always on Top

If you need more flexibility in keeping any window on top, you’ll have to turn to third-party apps. Here are some of the best options:

Magnet

Magnet is a popular window management tool that not only lets you keep windows on top but also provides powerful window snapping and resizing features. With customizable keyboard shortcuts, you can quickly move windows to specific areas of your screen or make them float on top.

Pros:

  • Easy to use with keyboard shortcuts
  • Highly customizable
  • Window snapping and resizing features

Cons:

  • Paid app ($7.99 one-time purchase)

Rectangle

Rectangle is a free and open-source window management app that offers similar functionality to Magnet. It allows you to keep windows on top, snap them to different screen areas, and even create custom keyboard shortcuts.

Pros:

  • Completely free
  • Open-source
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Slightly more complex setup and configuration

Spectacle

Spectacle is another free and open-source window management app that includes an “Always on Top” feature. It’s lightweight and easy to use, with simple keyboard shortcuts for window positioning and keeping windows afloat.

Pros:

  • Free and open-source
  • Simple and lightweight
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Fewer customization options compared to Magnet and Rectangle

BetterSnapTool

BetterSnapTool is a powerful window management utility that offers a wide range of features, including the ability to keep windows on top. It also provides window snapping, resizing, and even window tiling capabilities.

Pros:

  • Extensive window management features
  • Highly customizable
  • Free version available

Cons:

  • Paid app ($3.99 one-time purchase for full version)
  • Slightly more complex interface

Configuring Always on Top

Once you’ve installed your preferred app, configuring the “Always on Top” feature is usually straightforward. Here’s a general guide:

  1. Open the app’s preferences or settings.
  2. Look for an “Always on Top” or similar option.
  3. Enable the feature and customize any additional settings, such as keyboard shortcuts or appearance.

Most apps will allow you to assign a keyboard shortcut to toggle the “Always on Top” mode for the currently active window. Popular shortcuts include:

  • Control + Command + T
  • Control + Option + Command + T
  • Control + Shift + T

You can also configure visual cues, such as a colored border around the window that’s always on top, to help you identify it easily.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you make the most of the “Always on Top” feature:

  • Use keyboard shortcuts for quick access: Memorize the keyboard shortcut for toggling “Always on Top” mode, as it will save you time and effort in the long run.
  • Combine with window snapping: Many window management apps allow you to snap windows to specific areas of the screen while keeping them on top. This can be useful for creating custom layouts.
  • Exclude certain apps: Some apps may not play well with the “Always on Top” feature. Most window management apps allow you to exclude specific apps from being kept on top.
  • Experiment with visual cues: Try different visual cues, such as colored borders or transparency levels, to make the “Always on Top” window stand out more or blend in better with your desktop.
  • Use multiple desktops: macOS’s native Mission Control feature allows you to create multiple virtual desktops. You can keep your “Always on Top” window on a dedicated desktop to avoid clutter on your main workspace.

FAQ

Why can’t I keep a window on top in macOS?

macOS doesn’t have a built-in “Always on Top” feature like Windows does. However, you can use third-party window management apps to achieve the same functionality.

How do I keep a window always on top in macOS?

Install a window management app like Magnet, Rectangle, Spectacle, or BetterSnapTool. These apps allow you to keep any window on top of others with customizable keyboard shortcuts and visual cues.

Is there a keyboard shortcut to keep a window on top in macOS?

Most window management apps allow you to assign a custom keyboard shortcut to toggle the “Always on Top” mode for the currently active window. Popular shortcuts include Control + Command + T, Control + Option + Command + T, and Control + Shift + T.

Can I keep a video player window on top while working on other tasks?

Yes, macOS has a built-in Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode that allows you to float video players on top of other windows. Right-click (or control-click) on a web video and select “Picture in Picture” from the menu.

Will keeping a window on top affect my Mac’s performance?

Generally, no. Window management apps are lightweight and shouldn’t have a significant impact on your Mac’s performance. However, if you’re running many resource-intensive apps simultaneously, you may experience some slowdown.

Keeping key windows always on top can be a game-changer for your productivity on macOS. With the right apps and settings, you can effortlessly manage window positioning and ensure that important information is always visible, no matter what you’re working on. Give these tools a try and see how they can streamline your workflow.