2 Ways To Force DirectX Applications To Launch As Windowed Instead Of Fullscreen [Windows]

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force windowed directxIn the year 2012, software developers should not even be considering creating user interfaces that don’t allow for the utmost level of control from us, the user. The most painful and taboo of this sin is the fullscreen application. For those of us who consider ourselves to be productive (or ADD), being forced to run a Windows program in fullscreen mode is a complete cramp on our style.

Most glaringly, this occurs in PC games. I’m sure many games look their absolute best when viewed at a fullscreen resolution, but it shouldn’t be on anyone but the user to determine what sort of experience they want to get from the game. If you want to casually play a game in a windowed mode where you can watch other things and talk to friends through email or IMs, you should be able to. Certain games (most often, ones made years ago) won’t allow us to do that.

I’ll try to fix that problem for you and open you up to two different ways that you can manipulate your games (and other programs) into allowing you to run them windowed.

DXWnd

DXWnd simply allows you to run DirectX applications, that don’t support a windowed mode through their interface, in windowed mode. DirectX and OpenGL are the two major engines you’re going to run into when playing a PC game, and DirectX is the more common of the two.

force windowed directx

Upon downloading and unzipping the archive, you’ll already notice a default entry set up. Apparently, Michael enjoys MapleStory. That second entry (Final Fantasy VIII) is one I’ve set up on my own. All you’ve got to do is go into the Edit menu and click Add.

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windowed directx

There’s a lot that you can configure here, but none of it is required (or recommended). If you know the application runs in 256 colors, just enable that option. If you are aware that DirectInput is hooked, tick that box. I’d recommend allowing DXWnd to automatically detect the version of DirectX to hook. It does a good job.

From there, you can just double click the path of the application back in the main window, or go to Edit then Execute. If all went well, your color scheme may change a bit or your screen might flicker, as DirectX adjusts, and then your application should launch.

windowed directx

Not only am I finally able to play FF8 in a window on the PC, but the smaller resolution of the window actually makes the game look a whole lot better.

D3DWindower

D3DWindower, originally the DXWnd alternative native to Japan, has been translated to the English language. It differs very sparingly from DXWnd, and I only recommend trying D3DWindower if DXWnd didn’t work for you.

windowed directx

The process is really the exact same. You’ll want to click the plus sign, which will bring up a prompt to browse for the EXE you want to emulate through D3DWindower. Navigate to it, select it, and it’ll be added to the list. From there, just select the application in the window and hit the start button.

The settings in D3DWinodwer are a little deeper than DXWnd, but you won’t need to bother with most of them.

directx applications

The translations aren’t perfect in this program, but there’s enough English so that you’ll be able to navigate around without going crazy.

Know of a tool that will allow us to run OpenGL applications as windowed? Share that with us in the comments! If you need any assistance with these two programs or have anything else to ask or contribute, drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

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Comments (7)
  • Gernot

    Ah, well i forgot, DXWnd has changed quite a bit, fairly one can say the settings in DXWnd go “deeper” now (it looks quite different now to the screenshots you posted).

  • Gernot

    Good finding,
    What i guess is relatively unknown is the fact that DXWnd not only executes most DX applications in a Window, it allows also to run old Windows games proper. That was the reason why i noticed this at all. I.e., “Streets of SimCity” thanks to the “fake” DX version and formost the possibility to reduce framerate it’s possible to play it without that well known problem that the AI cars steady use their hopper (they jump up instead to drive), further it reduces the “unrecoverable errors” to a minimum, resp. it happens rarely, this counts as well for “SimCopter”.
    Even “Tiger Woods PGA 2000″ is possible to run with the help of this program, which didn’t worked well since XP and failed completely under later Windows releases.
    I assume in general Win95/98 games are possible to play again, due to the “fake” DX version,
    I can’t tell if the other program does that job as well, but i guess not, since two things are important to run old Windows applications DX and framerate. As long as the game runs at all, means it must be a 32bit application, but obviously a Windows App is 32bit. Often installers from 95 are still 16bit and due to that you can’t use them and you must find another way to install the game. Often it’s enough to simply copy the needed files to the HD (i.e. copter & streets). Sometimes you would need to install the game under a old windows version (that could be in a virtual machine, but to play VMachines are to slow and it’s overall a clumsy solution to play games, if you get the VM to run proper at all, it’s far more complicated to setup a VM (i.e. that it will recognize a joystick proper) as to run DXWnd) and export the registry entries to import them in the recent Windows you work with.

  • Pomax

    Four ways. And it’s still not universal due to directX constantly changing. http://pomax.nihongoresources.com/index.php?entry=1244302766

  • pmcllc

    How to make it work for window 8 or windows 7 64 bit, please help!!!

  • lol

    it crashes when i try to do anything outside the window :(

    • Craig Snyder

      Let me know what game you’re testing it for and I’ll look into it for you. It’s a crude solution, but it works well for the majority of games I’ve played with.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.