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NinjaWhether you’re playing flash games at work, dealing with too many open windows, or simply looking for computer privacy, at some point you’ve probably thought about how useful it would be to hide running Windows programs with the push of  a button.

Personally, I find that hiding the more distracting windows actually increases my efficiency while I use my computer. In fact, having less on the screen at one time means no more absent minded glances at the taskbar, no getting lost on facebook, and a whole lot more concentration.

OuttaSight is an excellent free solution to the common time management or privacy problems that computer users face today. This lightweight application allows users to hide active windows either by the push of a button, or automatically when they are run. While it is only stated as supporting up through Windows 2000, it works perfectly fine on XP and Vista.

OuttaSight is a Windows desktop utility that hides running application windows to un-clutter the desktop, quickly hide private work, or secure your applications while you’re away from your computer.

Features

  • Hide running programs with the push of a button
  • Set programs to automatically hide when they start up
  • Hide OuttaSight from the taskbar
  • Password protect OuttaSight to prevent changes
  • Hide/Show all windows with a single hotkey
  • Ability to hide windows to the system tray (instead of hiding them completely)

Using OuttaSight

The first thing you’ll notice when you download and run OuttaSight is that it’s very simple looking. This is one of my favorite aspects of the software – it’s very clear, lightweight, and efficient.

hide running programs

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First, it is important to personalize the utility. Go to “Hot Keys” and decide what you want your shortcuts for different actions to be. My personal set up used F10 as the hide window hotkey, CTRL+F11 to hide all windows, and CTRL+F12 to show them all.  While you are setting things up, keep in mind the reasons you got OuttaSight in the first place. Do you want it to be very easy and intuitive to show and hide windows, or would you like to be the only person that knows how to do it?

Second, you’re going to want to decide how you want programs to hide. Would you like them to disappear altogether (for secrecy) or minimize to the tray instead? If you are tired of your taskbar being cluttered, but do not mind people seeing that the programs are running, you may want to tell OuttaSight to minimize them to the tray as shown below.

To do this, navigate to the Options tab and check off  “Hide windows to system tray“. If this is not checked, the default behavior is to completely hide windows.

Next, you’ll need to decide if there are some programs you would like to automatically hide whenever they start. These programs could consist of automatic virus scans, annoying startup messages, or other things of that nature. If for some reason you like to start up applications with the intention of not viewing them at all, you can do that too ;-).

To set up a list of programs that will hide when they run, simply navigate to the “Auto-Hide” tab and start adding programs.

hide running programs from system tray

Note that you can specify whether you would like the program to hide completely, or run in the tray instead. To view a window that has minimized to the tray, simply double click it.

Finally, analyze things with your privacy in mind. You have the option to password protect OuttaSight. That means that even if someone knows it is running, they can’t use it without entering your password. That also means that your hidden programs remain hidden no matter what. To prevent others from seeing OuttaSight you have the option of hiding it from appearing even in the taskbar. If you do this, make sure you remember the hotkey to pull up OuttaSight – otherwise you’ll have to reboot your computer to access it again.

Hopefully this article was informative. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post your comments and let me know if you found a better free alternative. Overall I’d like to hear what you have to say about this concept in general – do you use software like this and why?

  1. HaySoos
    November 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Helpful and well written, good job Mr. Bozzay.

  2. Nisanth
    November 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I'm using this program for long time now, its a nice & very very "useful" program. ;). I've tried various other similar programs like magic boss, hide windows etc and found this superior to all.

    only drawback i found on this is once screensaver is active and when u resume work the hidden program window will be there in the taskbar and alt+tab window. The program will be still hidden but the window will be ther.

  3. Pranshu Arya
    November 13, 2009 at 11:25 am

    This software seems good but outdated. The publisher's website says it's tested up to Windows XP. Have you tested it on Vista?

  4. Pranshu Arya
    November 13, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Sorry, last comment went submitted incomplete...you already mentioned it works with Vista.

    • Paul Bozzay
      November 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

      Yeah, most of the programs like this seem to work fine on Vista but aren't listed as compatible. (TrayIt, even, is Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP apparently, but it works with Vista).

      I've used TrayIT before but I don't remember it having the capability to hide windows entirely (no traces in task manager or the taskbar) so I had to find something else..I could be wrong though, if something changed... ;-)

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