Bring window to front without activating?

I want to bring a window to the front without making the window active.
Details: I have a macro that brings a particular window to the front every 15 minutes to remind me to look at that window. I want to see the window but I don't want to type in the window or click in the window. Anyway, since that window always becomes active, it captures the next few clicks or keystrokes before I realize that it has been brought to the front. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I believe that appswitch can do what you want. From man appswitch:

 -s       Show the application, making the application's windows frontmost.  
          Do not switch to the application.

So, for example, appswitch -s /Applications/ will show me BBEdit's window, but does not activate BBEdit.

You can download appswitch from and the source code is available at

tjluoma, I tried appswitch and the -s option doesn't seem to be working. Could it be that it no longer works with High Sierra?

I’m using High Sierra as well.

I think we may be using different definitions of the same idea: appswitch -s will basically make the windows of that app the “2nd layer” of windows. If you use it in Terminal, for example, and make the Terminal window small, you’ll see the other windows pop up behind Terminal.

If you want a window to appear at the top of all the other windows, I don’t think there’s a way to do that without the app stealing focus.

I've made the iTerm window small and had VLC app window covered completely by other, larger windows. I type the command appswitch -s /Applications/
appswitch gives me no error messages but the VLC window doesn't appear on the screen.

Hrm. That's odd, it's working here just fine.

If VLC isn't running, I get the error "appswitch: can't find matching process" but if it is running, it is brought up behind iTerm.

Unfortunately, I don't know what else to suggest. Also, the more I think about it, I'm not sure this would work for your use-case, since if there was another window covering the screen, you wouldn't get any indication that it was time to look at the document.

Have you thought about a Keyboard Maestro action with a notification (to alert you that it's about to happen) and then activating the app so it doesn't steal focus without you being aware of it?

I can't think of a way to bring a window into view without it stealing focus.

Hey Barry,

You really can't do that, but you can hide all processes except the front process and that process.

If you set things up properly you ought to be able to see the front window of the background app.

By the way – it's a really good idea to tell us upfront what apps you're working in.


Thank you, Chris. I'm trying tjluoma's suggestion about making a sound a few seconds before bringing the window to the front. Maybe it'll be sufficient.