How to make python window run as "Always On Top"?


I am running a little program in python that launches a small window that needs to stay on top of all the other windows. I believe this is OS specific, how is it done in GNU-Linux with GNOME?

[Update – Solution for Windows]

Lovely, I think I got it working. I am using Python 2.5.4 with Pygame 1.9.1 in Eclipse on Vista 64-bit. Thus, this is for windows systems. The SetWindowPos function is documented Here. I will refer to this in my explanation.


from ctypes import windll

Then I set up a variable that calls the "SetWindowPos" in user32:

SetWindowPos = windll.user32.SetWindowPos

Now, let’s say I just made a window:

screen = pygame.display.set_mode((100,100), pygame.NOFRAME)

The next line is the key. This sets the window to be on top of other windows.

SetWindowPos(pygame.display.get_wm_info()['window'], -1, x, y, 0, 0, 0x0001)

Basically, You supply the hWnd(Window Handle) with the window ID returned from a call to display.get_wm_info(). Now the function can edit the window you just initialized.

The -1 is our hWndInsertAfter.

The MSDN site says:

A window can be made a topmost window either by setting the hWndInsertAfter parameter to HWND_TOPMOST and ensuring that the SWP_NOZORDER flag is not set, or by setting a window’s position in the Z order so that it is above any existing topmost windows. When a non-topmost window is made topmost, its owned windows are also made topmost. Its owners, however, are not changed.

So, the -1 makes sure the window is above any other existing topmost windows, but this may not work in all cases. Maybe a -2 beats a -1? It currently works for me. 🙂

The x and y specify the new coordinates for the window being set. I wanted the window to stay at its current position when the SetWindowPos function was called on it. Alas, I couldn’t find a way to easily pass the current window (x,y) position into the function. I was able to find a work around, but assume I shouldn’t introduce a new topic into this question.

The 0, 0, are supposed to specify the new width and height of the window, in pixels. Well, that functionality is already in your pygame.display.set_mode() function, so I left them at 0. The 0x0001 ignores these parameters.

0x0001 corresponds to SWP_NOSIZE and is my only uFlag. A list of all the available uFlags are on the provided documentation page. Some of their Hex representations are as follows:

  • SWP_NOSIZE = 0x0001
  • SWP_NOMOVE = 0x0002
  • SWP_NOZORDER = 0x0004
  • SWP_NOREDRAW = 0x0008
  • SWP_NOACTIVATE = 0x0010
  • SWP_SHOWWINDOW = 0x0040
  • SWP_HIDEWINDOW = 0x0080
  • SWP_NOCOPYBITS = 0x0100

That should be it! Hope it works for you!

Credit to John Popplewell at [email protected] for his help.


The question is more like which windowing toolkit are you using ? PyGTK and similar educated googling gave me this:


As mentioned previously it is upto the window manager to respect this setting or not.

Edited to include SDL specific stuff
Pygame uses SDL to do display work and apprently does not play nice with Windowing toolkits. SDL Window can be put on top is discussed here.

Answered By – whatnick

This Answer collected from stackoverflow, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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