For most, if not all, Linux distributions, there is a way to keep application windows “always on” and pin them to the screen. Despite sharing the same architecture, macOS makes this difficult, but it is possible with a little work.

In this article, we’ll show you how to keep application windows always on using native Mac features and third-party window drivers. We also mention Afloat – a common way to achieve this on a Mac, but there are a lot of caveats to the approach.

Use Afloat to keep your application window always on

The traditional way and probably the only way to keep a Mac application window always in the foreground is use on the surface. For many years, this has been a state-of-the-art solution that many users trust.

Nevertheless, Afloat will have a few negative effects in 2021:

  • It hasn’t been updated in six years, which means it may not work with existing Mac models or Apple Silicon chips.
  • It requires dependencies such as SIMBL. In fact, there are many sources for this, and some come and go depending on the operating system and compatibility.
  • The installation takes little work and depends on two applications that work well on your machine.
  • Some security settings need to be disabled on a Mac, making it too difficult (and dangerous to boot) for the end user.

Despite this, you should try Afloat. However, beware of users – Afloat is outdated and complex software to install on a Mac.

Other ways to keep the application window always on

If you’re using macOS Catalina or later, there’s a solution that keeps your windows visible, but not necessarily on.

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You can use Shared view tiles the windows and switches between them as needed. First, go to the System Settings screen and select Mission Control.

Check here that “Monitors have separate modes” is active, and then open some applications. Hover the mouse over the green button in the window on the application toolbar. You will see a pop-up window asking you to select a thumbnail format.

When you select one, it is copied to your premises.

This is not the best way and we can see how it may not be the best option for you. Instead, consider dedicated window management.

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Use dedicated window controls to keep the application window “always on”

The bad news is that there is no original way to draw things on screen like Afloat. It’s disappointing, but there are some good options to help keep the windows visible and not always on.

The kick is that you have to be disciplined to keep the window in a certain part of the screen. However, you have a lot more to choose from than Apple’s original features.

Popular paid options are BetterSnapTool and Magnetic.

However, there is a free and open source solution that mimics almost everything these two applications can do: Rectangle.

It is located on the toolbar and allows you to add windows to several different areas of the screen. In fact, there are numerous places available to you.

Everyone also has a shortcut available that gives the user an instant way to organize their windows. For better control, you can also place windows in areas of the screen divided into quarters and six. This means you can create custom layouts based on your situation.

Of course, you need some discipline that in order for a window to always stay on, it should be in its own part of the screen with no other windows. It is fairer to say that with this approach, you can always keep the window visible instead of pin it to the screen.


It seems strange that macOS doesn’t have a way to always keep Windows on because it’s available on Linux and both have the same basic architecture. Still, there are ways to keep windows visible, and with a little discipline you can still act like windows are always in the foreground. If you feel brave, you can try installing Afloat. Note, however, that it’s hard to get into things and bugs at their best.

Here are a few more ways to manage your Windows computers – check them out! How to keep application windows always on, and is any of our suggestions helpful? Tell us in the comments section below!

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