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Windowed mode and all of its various names or combinations of terms (bordered, borderless, maximized, fullscreen, windowed, and so on) refers to presenting the rendered frames of a game in some kind of window that is managed by the compositing window manager of the operating system[Note 1] along with the rest of the application windows on the system. This in contrast to the classic exclusive fullscreen (FSE) mode on the Windows operating system where the game took ownership of the display device and presented frames directly to the display without involving the compositing window manager, a necessary requirement of the early 3D era due to the lack of a proper hardware accelerated compositor.

Key points

Modern windowed modes allows seamless task switching with no risk of crashes or freezes with a minor to no loss in performance, and keeps custom color profiles in use for games.
May eliminate screen tearing on Windows if software composition occurs as the DWM effectively applies its own vertical sync,[1] though will subsequently cause additional input lag as well. It is possible to disable the vertical sync, however it requires either engaging modern optimizations in Windows 10+ or by disabling DWM on Vista/7.[2]
Display mode can often be toggled or cycled through using Alt+ Enter in supported games.


Presenting frames through a window has historically resulted in additional input latency and performance losses due to the need of the compositor to compose the frames presented by the game along with any other windows drawn by other applications; an action that were typically performed through software composition performed on the CPU. These downsides however have diminished in modern times and as of 2022 most compositors are able to perform some form of optimization or hardware accelerated composition that reduces or outright eliminates the downsides of presenting frames through a regular window.

Starting with Windows 10 the classic fullscreen exclusive mode was regarded as obsolete by Microsoft as the optimizations introduced for borderless fullscreen games allows for performance and latency equal to that of fullscreen exclusive, while still allowing switching between tasks and applications without any slow display mode switch having to occur. To allow older games running in fullscreen exclusive mode to take advantage of these optimizations, Windows 10 v1607 introduced a transparent optimization layer in the operating system called fullscreen optimizations (FSO). With the release of Windows 11 22H2 these optimizations were extended to also cover older games running in a regular non-maximized window mode.

As a result of the compositor optimizations introduced in Windows 10, the Direct3D 12 graphics API was released without any support for the classic fullscreen exclusive mode. Any "fullscreen exclusive" mode that DirectX 12 games might feature is in reality a fake/emulated mode where the Windows desktop temporarily changes refresh rate and/or resolution to the one requested by the game, but the compositor otherwise remains in ownership of the display. This allows games to use refresh rates and/or resolutions not used by the regular desktop, while the composition window manager is still present and able to at any moment step in and start composing if necessary.


For a list of games, see List of games that support windowed.

Windowed typically refers to a mode where the game presents the rendered image in a regular window that is not maximized (fullscreen) on the monitor. The window in question may or may not use window decorations (borders) around the contents of the window, typically indicated by the use of bordered and borderless in the name of the mode. This mode should not be mistaken for borderless fullscreen windowed mode, which specifically removes the window decorations (borderless) and maximizes (fullscreen) the window to have it cover the whole monitor.

Some games do not have a native windowed mode; specific workarounds may be required.

Borderless fullscreen windowed

For a list of games, see List of games that support borderless fullscreen windowed.

Borderless fullscreen windowed refers to a mode where the game presents the rendered image in a maximized (fullscreen) window without decorations (borderless) making it cover the whole monitor. This feature is known by a lot of different names between games, such as borderless mode, maximized window, fullscreen window, or any combination thereof. Some titles or engine might also refer to it using less common names, such as scaling or even fullscreen if the game does not support exclusive fullscreen mode. The Unity engine is particularly famous for labeling its borderless fullscreen window mode for just "fullscreen".

Native feature in many modern titles, and can often be forced in the majority of older titles.
Can sometimes be used to enable wider or higher resolutions via resizing the game's viewport.[3][4]

Issues fixed

Game crashes on startup

Certain borderless applications have to be started before the game itself and not while the game is running.

Window constantly resizes itself

After applying the borderless mode simply restart the game itself, while keeping the borderless application open.

Mouse moves outside of the game window

See the glossary page for potential workarounds.

Override the display mode of a game

Force windowed mode

Expand the sections or click on the relevant link to see the full instructions.
See Special K for instructions.
Great for Win 95/98 like games such as StarCraft, Diablo, and Quake; many presets are included.
Automatically applies any configurations while the program is running.
For games that require launching through Ubisoft Connect or Steam, the games need to be started through those programs while having DxWnd open in order for windowed mode to work. You can set DxWnd to run in the system tray on system startup to avoid having to launch it manually.


  1. Open DxWnd, click on Edit, then Add.
  2. Type in a name, and browse for the .exe file path.
  3. Set the preferred coordinates, size, and monitor if needed.
  4. Specify the DirectX version if it's not automatically detected.
  5. Also refer to DxWnd's help menu to read about the documentation.


DxWnd can be set up to automatically run in the tray on system startup to avoid having to launch it manually every time you need it.
  1. Place a shortcut to dxwnd.exe in the Start Menu's Startup folder.
  2. Right-click the shortcut and click Properties.
  3. In the Properties window that opens, in the Shortcut tab, change Target by adding /T to the end of the text in the field. The resulting field should look something like "<path-to-DxWnd>\dxwnd.exe" /T. The /T parameter launches DxWnd in the system tray.
Includes simple option to force windowed mode.
DirectX 8.1 and 9.0 supported; compatibility is not well documented.


  1. Open 3D-Analyze.
  2. Select the game's .exe file.
  3. Enable Force windowed mode and run the game.
Allows to store multiple configurations at once.
Cumbersome to use, has fewer configuration options.
Not maintained, may not work with some games.


  1. Run D3DWindower as administrator.
  2. Click on Add Program and open the game's .exe file.
  3. Select the game and click on Settings.
  4. In the DLL field find D3dHook.dll from the source folder and add it.
  5. Click on Run Program or double-click on it.

Force borderless fullscreen windowed mode


Expand the sections or click on the relevant link to see the full instructions.
Borderless Gaming
  1. Download Borderless Gaming and install it.
  2. Navigate to the Borderless Gaming installation path and run BorderlessGaming.exe
  3. Run the game in a Windowed mode, then Alt+Tab to the Desktop and open Borderless Gaming again.
  4. Select the game's executable from under the Applications field, then push the first Right Arrow button located at the top.


Restart the game if the borderless mode isn't working, keep Borderless Gaming open.
If the game crashed after Borderless Gaming was launched then restart the game, keep Borderless Gaming open.
Requires UAC elevation to run.
See Special K for instructions.
Supports DirectX 9 and 32-bit games, with more advanced support for Unreal Engine 3 games where it can force windowed modes for games without it.
  1. Install and run GeDoSaTo.
  2. Edit settings and find the following line in GeDoSaTo.ini.
    forceBorderlessFullscreen false
  3. Edit the value from "false" to "true" to force this mode.
  4. Add the game's executable name to the user whitelist.
  5. Run the game in its normal fullscreen mode as opposed to windowed.
Updater/installer may crash. From an administrator command prompt, run REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\.NETFramework\v4.0.30319" /v SchUseStrongCrypto /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /reg:32[6]
Simple Runtime Window Editor
Allows manipulating the size, position, and styles of a game's main/child windows.
  1. Download SRWE and run it.
  2. Run the game in windowed mode, and switch back to SRWE.
  3. Select running application and open the game.
  4. Use the Remove borders and Fake fullscreen buttons.
  5. Save the profile to the same folder as SRWE.
  1. Download Fullscreenizer and run it.
  2. Run the game in windowed mode, and switch back to Fullscreenizer.
  3. Click on "Show All", select a game and click on "Add".
  4. Use the Fullscreenize button.
Windowed Borderless Gaming
  1. Download Windowed Borderless Gaming and run.
  2. Run the game in windowed mode, and click to icon in tray.
  3. Use "Add window (F3)" button, go to game and click F3.
  4. Restart the game.
Use Magpie
Has several upscaling algorithms and post-processing techniques. (e.g. FSR 1.x, Anime4K, etc)
Requires game to be run in normal windowed mode first.
  1. Download the software here. Then extract files from its archive.
  2. With program running, set the game to run in windowed mode (and optionally adjust the game's resolution as necessary if upscaling or downscaling.) open the program and either:
  • Change the default settings as you see fit; Then press the assigned hot-key ( Shift+ Win+A is the default.) to toggle window scaling.
  • Create the profile for the game and configure. Enable Auto scale when in foreground to automatically scale games that matched the created profile.
See AutoHotkey for instructions.


Most Linux window managers allow fullscreen applications to natively run under a borderless mode by default.
General instructions
This applies to Gnome, KDE/Plasma, Cinnamon, Mate, Pantheon, and most likely other desktop environments as well.
  1. Look through the system settings/control center of the desktop environment for a section where keyboard hotkeys or shortcuts can be set.
  2. Look for the option labeled Toggle fullscreen mode or similar.
  3. Set a hotkey for the option, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+Home.
  4. Start the game in windowed mode.
  5. Move it to your preferred monitor.
  6. Select the game and enter the hotkey, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+Home.
i3 tiling window manager
  1. Start the game in a windowed mode.
  2. Move it to a new virtual desktop by using Shift+ Win+Number.
  3. Switch to the virtual terminal with Win+Number then go into fullscreen mode by pushing Win+F.
Run Steam game in new X server instance:
Games can also run in a separate X server instance which may improve performance and stability and allows for switching between the game and desktop using keyboard shortcuts.[Note 2]
Some games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor may run into glitches using this method.[7]
  1. Run Steam
  2. Edit the launch options for the game as follows:
xinit %command% :1
  • For non-Steam games, replace %command% with the full path to the game executable.


  1. Compositors for the different OSes:
    • macOS: Quartz Compositor
    • Linux: Compiz, KWin, etc
    • Windows: Desktop Window Manager (DWM)
  2. Typically Ctrl+Alt+F7 and Ctrl+Alt+F8 though buttons may differ; might be any of F1 through F12.