On a Mac, clicking a window makes it active and brings it to the foreground. All other open windows are stacked behind the active window.

Afloat Icon

If you’re working with data from several Applications, this default behavior can be really annoying.

Afloat solves this problem with two great features:

  • It lets you freeze any window so it remains on top and visible.
  • It lets you assign an opacity level to windows so you can literally see through them.

Afloat was designed by Infinite Labs and is freeware. You can download it here.

Afloat works with Snow Leopard (10.6) and Lion (10.7). Although the site doesn’t mention Mountain Lion (10.8) compatibility,  I’ve been using it for over a month without any problems.

After you download Afloat:

  • Go to your Downloads folder.
  • In the Downloads folder you will find an Afloat folder.
  • Double click the Afloat Installer.
  • Click the button that says Install Afloat & SIMBL.

Afloat - Install Dialog Box

  • Accept the Terms and Conditions.
  • Continue the installation process
  • When you are asked if you wish to Install for all users of this computer, click this option, then click Continue.

Afloat - All User Install

  • Finish the installation process.

Once Afloat is installed, you need to restart your Mac before it’s ready to use.

Afloat works in almost every Application except iTunes and the Finder

To use Afloat in an Application, click the Windows Menu in the Toolbar. You will see 5 new options with small cloud icons:

Afloat - Options

  1. Keep Afloat – Keeps a selected window above all others.
  2. Transparency – Change the transparency of a selected window.
  3. Turn Overlays Back To Normal – Remove Afloat effects from a selected window.
  4. Adjust Effects – Adjust a windows stacking position, transparency rules, click rules and how the window operates in Spaces.
  5. Show Window’s File In Finder –  If the selected window is showing a file (and has that file’s icon in its menu bar), this command quickly reveals that file in the Finder.

Once you choose to keep a window Afloat, the graphic below appears to show the command has been understood.

A Window Afloat

I’ve been using Afloat for years and I highly recommend it.

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