Windows

How to Make Windows Transparent in Windows 10

Simon Batt Updated 09-07-2020

Windows Aero has added a few nice effects to desktop windows over the years, but even to this day, there’s no official way to make a window transparent. Fortunately, there are third-party tools that can help us achieve this goal.

Advertisement

Let’s explore how to make transparent windows and where each tool shines.

1. Glass2k

The Glass2k application

We’re not going to lie to you; Glass2k is an ancient piece of software. The moment you load the page, you’re assaulted with broken Flash panels and a huge red banner declaring that development stopped a long time ago.

The system requirements demand that your computer has a 400 Mhz CPU, 64 MB of RAM, and an 8MB graphics card. In the FAQ, you can read the saddening news that this project won’t, in fact, be developed for Windows 95 or 98. And yet, despite its age, it still works perfectly on a Windows 10 machine.

If you’re not a fan of installing old software on your PC, don’t worry. Glass2K doesn’t require installation; simply download the 55 kb executable and open it to start it up. You can set it to automatically run on Windows start-up if you find it particularly useful.

Advertisement

When Glass2k loads up, you’ll find a few options available to you. “Transparency Popup” lets you set a shortcut to make the settings window appear. The first button has to be a right-click, but you can select what other buttons to press down when bringing the window up.

If you’d rather now right-click everything, you can instead use numbers to customize your transparency. “Keyboard shortcuts” lets you set a hotkey for instant activation of transparency. Once you’ve set a hotkey, just hold it down and press a number key from zero to nine.

Depending on the number you pressed, the window will turn transparent to a certain degree. The 1 key makes it the most transparent, while the 9 key applies the smallest amount of transparency. Pressing the 0 key makes the window opaque.

You can also customize the taskbar transparency here. Just slide the blue bar left and right to customize how clear the bar becomes. If you like this feature, Glass2k is but one of a few pieces of software that can make the taskbar transparent in Windows 10 How to Make the Taskbar Transparent in Windows 10 Windows 10 took a lot of power away from users like you and me, but this nifty third-party utility lets you turn your taskbar transparent with zero effort. Read More .

Advertisement

2. Peek Through

The PeekThrough app

Peek Through is another entry that has stood the test of time, albeit more recent than Glass2k. It came out as version 1.1.0.0 back in 2010, then received zero updates since then. Again, despite this, Peek Through still works very well with Windows 10.

Once it boots up, set a hotkey that uses the Windows key on your keyboard. Peek Through will let you know if your chosen hotkey conflicts with another, so prod around until you find something that’s free and works for you. Then, press the hotkey on a window to make it transparent or opaque. You can toggle how transparent a window becomes on the slider in the app.

At first, it feels like a lesser version of Glass2k; however, it has an excellent feature up its sleeve. If you enable the option for it, you can click on windows underneath a transparent one. For example, if you only have the one monitor, you can type away on your report in one window, turn it transparent, then click a link on a browser behind it to research what to write about next.

Advertisement

3. WindowTop

The WindowTop menu

Coming to the end of our history tour through transparency programs, we have WindowTop. WindowTop is still receiving updates at the time of writing, and it’s developed with modern-day versions of Windows 10 in mind. Older versions of Windows and Windows 10 can still download a less feature-packed version.

Once booted up, WindowTop lives at the top of your windows, appearing only when you mouse over it. WindowTop doesn’t focus on window transparency alone; it has a few nice tricks up its sleeve, such as the ability to pin a window to the top, shrink windows to an incredibly small size, and invert its colors.

You can activate window transparency in one of two ways. You can press the shortcut (ALT+A, which is changeable by clicking the toolbar icon) or you can hover your mouse over the top of a window and click the down arrow that appears, then select “Opacity.” WindowTop also has the click-through feature that Peek Through has.

Advertisement

4. Actual Transparent Window

The Actual Transparent Window app

For the ultimate in transparency management, you can’t go wrong with Actual Transparent Window. This software has a lot of options to play around with, so you can set up the perfect workspace for your PC.

When you boot up the software, you’ll find the automatic transparency options first and foremost. These allow you to tweak how windows act under certain conditions. Do you want windows to start up transparent? Do you want all inactive windows to be see-through? How about when you hover your mouse over them? You can toggle these options on and off, as well as setting individual transparency levels for each action.

If you don’t like windows adjusting by themselves, you can always do it manually. Compatible windows will have two buttons at the top that toggle transparency, but if they tend to get in the way, you can remove them via the “Title Buttons” option in the settings. You can also enable transparency options to appear on right-click, or apply when you double-click the title bar.

The app also features a “Ghost Mode.” When activated, you can click on items behind the window as if it weren’t there, but you can still interact with it via the keyboard. This lets you click on windows underneath a transparent word processor while still typing away in your document.

Actual Transparent Window is a fantastic tool; unfortunately, it’s the only entry on this list that requires payment to use forever. You can try it for a week, after which it’s $19.95 for the full version. If you buy it and don’t like it, you have 30 days to get a refund; as such, you have a month and one week to decide if it’s for you without risk.

Making Windows 10 Work for You Better

If you like the sound of transparent windows, you’ll be disappointed in what Windows 10 has to offer by default. Fortunately, there are plenty of third-party tools that can help you achieve that goal, even if they’re quite dated!

If you want to equip your Windows 10 machine with even more handy tools, check out the best PC software for your Windows computer The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More .

Related topics: Windows 10, Windows Customization, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. staf
    June 27, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks for the article. I wanted to recommend about another tool I use daily for transparency.
    It is WindowTop and it is great and very easy to use

  2. Ed
    February 1, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Win 7 : My windows are semi-transparent at the top, and I do not want them to be. How do I turn this feature off?

  3. Zach
    February 23, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    What about for mac? :0

  4. Bob
    November 2, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Another advantage: Placing a 'transparented' CAD window over a photo or scanned image makes it much easier to 'rough out' a CAD file representing a 2D object by simply tracing the underlying image.

  5. Mike
    August 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I'm a windows guy, but I'm using an apple at work and this would be perfect for web development. Is there something like this for apple computers?

  6. Wayne Alfred
    July 4, 2016 at 3:40 am

    It works in Windows 10 also in Windows 10 Insider Preview!!

  7. Robert Grow
    January 23, 2016 at 4:15 am

    I have windows 8.1 and it works just fine for me. I have compiz on my ubuntu desktop but Im required to run Windows on my work laptop which sadly is my main computer used these days)
    I plan on using this to hone my computer drawing skills with my wacom bamboo tablet (shameless plug? Actually if I say "To use my tablet" people tend to get confused and think that I have a whole different wireless device that has it's own screen and such. so, yes, shameless plug) Anyways, Multi tasking with the note taking and all that is really handy as well, plus, watching a movie but feel like diggin' through some reddit? Never had the urge to before but now, I have the whoe (Transparent) world at my fingertips!!!!!!

    • Justin Pot
      January 24, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Oh man, I remember using Compiz back in 2005. I was all about the cube, yo.

      Anyway, let me know if this turns out to be useful to you okay?

      • Robert Grow
        January 25, 2016 at 2:29 am

        Been using it constantly since I got it. this program rocks.

  8. MARTIN
    March 24, 2015 at 8:53 am

    WONT WORK IN WIN 8.1

  9. Rama moorthy
    January 24, 2013 at 3:21 am

    good program for those having very low screen resolution.. to see multiple items..!

  10. Eric Wilborn
    December 25, 2012 at 2:57 am

    Seems like something they'd integrate into Windows at some point

  11. Brijesh Akbari
    December 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    hay dude its cool to know this stuff. i like it so much.

  12. Terafall
    December 24, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Is there any way to do that using Autohotkey?

    • Justin Pot
      December 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      I'm not an expert myself, but there must be a way...

  13. Nehad Alikhan
    December 22, 2012 at 7:13 am

    nice

  14. Anonymous
    December 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    This is super cool! Just installed it on my work computer and love it already! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Yeah. I'm tired of adjusting two windows' size with AeroSnap, so PeekThrough works well. There's another software written by skwire from DonationCoders (http://skwire.dcmembers.com/) which will apply Transparency to all windows all the time, but more as eye candy than real use. I use it to spice up the Explorer. Can't stand the boring white background.

    • Justin Pot
      December 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah, all windows at all times is overkill. Better to pick when it happens, I think. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  16. Arxadius Stark
    December 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    This could benefit people like me who open multiple windows at a time.

  17. claudine ratelle
    December 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    It looks useful. I was actually getting annoyed with my many windows opened at the same time at work. I could try that.

  18. susendeep dutta
    December 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    This tool is usually useful in Windows 8 where much part of aero graphics is abandoned and for those who need it.

  19. Douglas Mutay
    December 21, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Wow! Where do you guys at MUO find all these wonderful things? Everyday there is something new! It's just awesome! thank you and congratulation for the amazing job you are doing! Bravo!!!

  20. Michael Greene
    December 21, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I actually found this program a few weeks ago. I haven't utilized it too much yet, but I've had my laptop hooked up to another monitor for much of that time. It could definitely be useful if I take my laptop somewhere else like the library to work.