Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

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ChrisGreaves
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Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by ChrisGreaves »

Is there a way to make a [semi-]regular Windows application invisible to the user?

Consider a laptop which is running WinAmp music player (juke-box), background music while I work in a word-processor, spreadsheet processor, text editor, file explorer and so on. I want every application to be running, but when I Alt-Tab to ride the carousel of applications I begrudge the second that is consumed each time we go around.

I am prepared to dispose of WinAmp with Task Manager, or with a re-boot of Windows if necessary.

I suppose really I want WinAmp to appear (to the Alt-Tab and related combinations) like some of those processes in Task manager, “svchost” comes to mind, “splwow64.exe” is another.

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Chris
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HansV
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by HansV »

An application is different from a service; I don't think you can hide an application that way.
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Hans

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ChrisGreaves
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by ChrisGreaves »

HansV wrote:An application is different from a service; I don't think you can hide an application that way.
Thanks Hans.
I was using those processes as an example of the sort of thing I'd like. I am sure that the two services mentioned are a part of the Windows o/s.

Nonetheless it sure would be nice to nominate an application as, say, a startup process. Or the equivalent.

P.S. Had you replied "You haven't a ghost of a chance", I would have counter-replied "That's not the spirit", and saved Rudi a lot of trouble (grin))

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Chris
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Argus
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by Argus »

ChrisGreaves wrote:Is there a way to make a [semi-]regular Windows application invisible to the user?

Consider a laptop which is running WinAmp music player (juke-box), background music while I work [...]
You can hide tasks from the desktop that have been scheduled using the Task Scheduler, or the AT command (in the latter case by not setting the parameter /interactive).

This I knew, but had not combined it with something making sounds. :grin: Spooky, I've just got my computer to play music with no sign of, in my case, VLC Media Player running. :smile: (Well, unless, for example, I click on the, more or less always there, volume icon in the tray and expands the volume control, though that's not a way to interact with the player.)

I usually do not have it, or any other player, running all the time, and usually do not use "mixed" playlists etc. I simply pick an album or a file. However, in the case of VLC it's possible to save a playlist to a file (I'm sure that's possible with most players); it is also possible to set a playlist as Standard stream in the Advanced settings, with the result that it will play what's "linked to" in the playlist every time the player is started.

I did that, and then created a task to run the player. Well, actually; I first created the task and set it to run, but staring at "nothing" as it was running as hidden didn't convince me it was running. :laugh: (Easier with other tasks that do something ... Though it was possible to notice a small blip in memory use in for example the Task Manager, I didn’t fancy digging deeper and I had not enabled a log for the task since not that interesting.) So, which was the whole point with the exercise, I created the playlist, noticed that VLC started playing it every time it was started, then changed the settings in the task so that it would, in this case, start the player at a specific time. It did. And it played.

It was nowhere in the "cool-switch" (Alt-Tab) (or Winkey-Tab), as expected; it didn't show up in the Program tab in the Task Manager; the pinned icon for the player in the Taskbar didn't change (indicating that the program was running); however it did show in the Task Manager's Process tab if I selected "Show processes from all users". (Other tools such as MSFT's (Sysinternals) Process Explorer will also show the process, underneath the task engine process.) So, pretty much "hidden" from the desktop.

They key is, apart from setting it to hidden, to set it to "run wheter user is logged on or not", I also opted to not store password.

Apart from the settings that can be tweaked in Task Scheduler, when to start etc. it's also an easy way to start and stop the player manually for this purpose, just select run task or end task.

The above said, it's possible that there are players out there that have an option to hide from the Taskbar and minimise to the tray (i.e. next to the clock etc.); some perhaps remember other programs that had that option.

And in fact ... :grin: VLC Media Player can do that. The standard setting is, I think, to show up not only on the Taskbar but also an icon in the tray (it is possible to disable the latter). With a right-click on the icon in the tray there is an option to hide it from the Taskbar. And then, obviously, it's gone from the Program tab in the Task Manager, and Alt-Tab.

So, there you are, a more hidden option that can be automated (and probably work with all media players that can be pointed to a list or similar) and an almost as hidden option, but in this case with another player than you have, that's not autmatically hidden.
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ChrisGreaves
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by ChrisGreaves »

Argus wrote:
ChrisGreaves wrote:Is there a way to make a [semi-]regular Windows application invisible to the user?
You can hide tasks from the desktop that have been scheduled using the Task Scheduler, or the AT command ....
Bless you, Argus, for forcing me to learn how to print to PDF an email on my smartphone, copy it to the laptop, copy the text and analyse your response in detail.

I have run through most of the steps, but in Task Scheduler my WinAmp pops up quite visible. I need to spend more time learning/experimenting, which I will do once I have ejected my brilliant electrician from the property and told him never to darken my house again.

In the meantime, Task Scheduler has caught my attention.
For which, again, I thank you!

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Chris
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Argus
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by Argus »

ChrisGreaves wrote:
Argus wrote:
ChrisGreaves wrote:Is there a way to make a [semi-]regular Windows application invisible to the user?
You can hide tasks from the desktop that have been scheduled using the Task Scheduler, or the AT command ....
Bless you, Argus, for forcing me to learn how to print to PDF an email on my smartphone, copy it to the laptop, copy the text and analyse your response in detail.

I have run through most of the steps, but in Task Scheduler my WinAmp pops up quite visible. I need to spend more time learning/experimenting, which I will do once I have ejected my brilliant electrician from the property and told him never to darken my house again.
You’re welcome.
( :whisper: If you print to PDF there will be no animated smileys! :yep:)

Didn't go into detailed steps, since I don't think you need that; more the concept:
  • a media player that can use playlists or in some other way be set to play a bunch of files;
  • using Task Scheduler (or AT) to create a task and run it non-interactively.
The downside, if any, is that the "controls" will be limited to start, stop and, of course, volume, as one might guess.

But I'm sorry that there is a minor "errorish" thing :eyeout: that might confuse. I've used the AT command with and without /interactive, (and Task Scheduler sometimes), and as I mentioned if not setting that parameter it becomes hidden. However, I don't know why I mentioned "setting it to hidden" if using the Task Scheduler:
Argus wrote:They key is, apart from setting it to hidden, to set it to "run wheter user is logged on or not", I also opted to not store password.
That check box, on the General tab of the properties, is to hide the task in Task Scheduler, unless Show Hidden Tasks is selected in the View menu (which probably is the default). The rest is as I said, apart from the typo: Run whether user is logged on or not. Then it will not run interactively (i.e. "hidden"); that's the important thing in this case.

See this page:
Microsoft Docs wrote:You can specify that a task should run even if the account under which the task is scheduled to run is not logged on when the task is triggered. To do this, select the radio button labeled Run whether user is logged on or not . If this radio button is selected, tasks will not run interactively. To make a task run interactively, select the Run only when user is logged on radio button.
It is also possible, depending on what one is trying to do, that there is need to check the check box "Run with highest privileges ", see same page as above.

See also what's written about password, if task "requires access to network resources". As always, it's best to start with some simple test.
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Re: Make a Windows application invisible to the user?

Post by ChrisGreaves »

I have temporarily suspended my look at task scheduling. I have a Work-In-Progress which represents only the current and interrupted state of my mind.
My feelings as of this date:-

(1) Scheduling of autonomous tasks is more than usually dependent on your version, flavour, and build of Windows. This disappoints me for I remember fondly the RunJob (RJ) command from ICL’s GEORGE III operating system in 1970 (almost fifty years ago)

(2) The Windows GUI “Task Scheduler” (search Control Panel) works, but a human with a mouse is a rotten substitute for a stored autonomous process. “Computer are good at doing boring repetitive things” (and a mouse is a boring and repetitive task master)

(3) The AT command-line is OK, but at some point you will be told to upgrade to the Windows-Vista method of SchTasks.

(4) SchTasks seems much more versatile than the AT command. The trouble is, SchTasks is buggy. For example you ought to include the undocumented /V1 switch (maybe this was the upgrade-to-Vista route) and that didn’t work on my Win7HP (Update for Windows (KB2999226))

(5) I get it that Windows is a complex operating system, but something as simple as a “execute this command line at this future date and time” ought to be seamless and bugless. It ought not to involve three failed design attempts at getting the scheduling job done. I suspect that the complexity arises from thirty years of piecemeal patches and upgrades and “temporary measures” to get around this, that, and the other.

Scheduling Tasks ought to be a no-brainer.
When I get back to this I will post a new message in this thread.
But I won’t schedule the event as a task.
Cheers
Chris
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