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Question: Applications stealing focus

While I am working in one application I am often bothered by other applications stealing focus. For example: I'm typing in a text editor, while importing some new CDs with iTunes. I'm happily typing away, I insert a CD to be imported by iTunes in the background, then after a few seconds iTunes steals focus, causing me to loose what I was typing into thin air and to loose my train of thought. It's not just iTunes, many applications steal focus and it is really very annoying, sometimes worse.

Does anyone know of a way to completely disable the ability for applications to steal focus ?

iMac G5 17, Mac OS X (10.4.11)

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Apr 3, 2008 9:24 PM in response to Russet In response to Russet

@Russet: Just found this on another thread:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=6954809

Courtesy of dobes918
If you write this:

defaults write com.apple.Dock workspaces-auto-swoosh -bool NO

into Terminal, your Spaces should stop switching automatically. BUT they also won't switch when you click on the icon on the dock. If you use it, you will have to switch Spaces manually through F8 or arrow keys every time. I don't use it because I want Spaces to switch through the dock icons. Good luck!

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Mar 29, 2008 6:09 PM in response to BDAqua In response to BDAqua

Thanks DBAqua, but did you actually read my question ? I didn't ask "how do I switch focus ?" -- sure, once the the offending application has stolen focus I can switch back to what I was doing, but that's beside the point. I wanted to know how to stop applications from stealing focus in the first place.

Anyone else ? Please read the question before answering it.

Mar 29, 2008 6:09 PM

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Mar 30, 2008 3:23 AM in response to BDAqua In response to BDAqua

Cheers. The problem was: I'm not doing anything, instead, applications are stealing focus without my input. The problem is exactly the lack of user control when applications steal focus. Here's another example in which I don't touch the keyboard or mouse:

I'm reading a webpage, this one for example, I'm reading these very words on this site. Meanwhile, I'm importing some new CDs I bought earlier in the day at HMV in town. I have my CDs in a stack next to me and, while reading this webpage, I'm feeding the CDs into my iMac for iTunes to automatically import in the background. Without switching to iTunes, I feed a CD into the iMac, while I read this page, then seconds later iTunes steals focus. Just to show me it's started importing the CD. It's not just iTunes, other applications do it too.

Mar 30, 2008 3:23 AM

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Mar 30, 2008 12:28 PM in response to Russet In response to Russet

OK, more info helps, but I don't think I can help other than bumping this to the front again.

I rarely use iTunes so no idea on that one, and I guess I don't do enough parallel computing, because I never lose focus that i can remember anyway... sorry.

Mar 30, 2008 12:28 PM

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Mar 30, 2008 5:34 PM in response to Russet In response to Russet

When you ask an application to do something - it's window becomes the active window and the window on top of all others.

That is how it works.

You could shrink the open application windows so when they pop up they don't steal your focus.

your text didn't go poof - it was hidden by the new active window.

But I too loose my train of thought trying to type and feed blank CD's to iTunes at the same time.

Mar 30, 2008 5:34 PM

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Apr 3, 2008 9:56 AM in response to Russet In response to Russet

Applications stealing focus is a huge problem for me and very disruptive to my work.

I use Spaces to eliminate on-screen clutter: one space for Illustrator, one for PhotoShop and so on.

For example, I'll drag dozens of PS files to Distiller then switch back to InDesign to continue working. Every frigging time Distiller starts the next task it pulls me away from InDesign back to the Distiller space.

The same issue exists with Safari.

I'll open five tabs in one window: one for company email, one for the web-based project management tool, one for the client file site and so on. As I'm typing my username and password to log on to the email, Safari will suddenly switch tabs when the client site loads and I find myself typing in the wrong window.

Whatever the user is doing should be given the most importance. It's insane that the OS can interrupt me when I'm in the middle of typing and place me in another application.

What the **** were the designers thinking? There needs to be a way to turn this off.

Apr 3, 2008 9:56 AM

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Apr 3, 2008 9:00 PM in response to Michael Benda In response to Michael Benda

I am also having this issue. Regardless of the tone of some of the previous posts, I think that we can all agree that this is an enormous problem when using spaces. The suggestion of minimizing all other apps besides the one you are working on defeats the purpose of having multiple windows.

Does anyone have a fix for this? Please Apple, get going with a fix for this annoying issue.

Apr 3, 2008 9:00 PM

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Apr 3, 2008 9:24 PM in response to Russet In response to Russet

@Russet: Just found this on another thread:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=6954809

Courtesy of dobes918
If you write this:

defaults write com.apple.Dock workspaces-auto-swoosh -bool NO

into Terminal, your Spaces should stop switching automatically. BUT they also won't switch when you click on the icon on the dock. If you use it, you will have to switch Spaces manually through F8 or arrow keys every time. I don't use it because I want Spaces to switch through the dock icons. Good luck!

Apr 3, 2008 9:24 PM

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Apr 4, 2008 4:35 AM in response to Klaus1 In response to Klaus1

Klaus1, with respect, you're being patronizing too and your answer is also missing the point. This is a real problem, I admit I didn't explain it well, and I did use a impolite tone, but you will run into it too one-day if Apple doesn't fix it first. Saving the document as you suggest would be irrelevant because I wasn't saying that I had lost my document, I was saying that I lost everything I had typed after the theft of focus, as iTunes received the keystrokes instead of my text-editor. I guess you have to experience it to know what it's like.

Apr 4, 2008 4:35 AM

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Question: Applications stealing focus