Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dealing With Off-Screen Dialog Boxes

In most Windows apps, it is possible for a dialog box to open off-screen and thus not be visible or directly accessible. This can be caused by a number of things such as changing the screen resolution, adding or removing a monitor, etc.

I dealt with an issue yesterday where someone thought their session of Revit was freezing every time they started a specific CTC Express Tools app... once they started the command, the entire Ribbon grayed out and became inactive. It appeared the only way out was to crash Revit.

Turns out the dialog was...
opening off-screen. When the dialog is open Revit is waiting for the user to close the dialog (just like Revit's Type Properties or Print dialog boxes).

Before talking about the solution, notice in the image below, when the dialog is visible (this is the same for pretty much any dialog, by the way) you have a menu in the upper left. One of the options is to Move the dialog. When this option is active, you can move the dialog with your mouse or the arrow keys on the keyboard.

The solution is to activate the Move function, even though you cannot see it, and use the arrows keys until the dialog appears - trying all directions (left, right, up and down).

Do the following to make the dialog visible on-screen:
  • Execute the command to activate the dialog box.
  • Press Alt+Spacebar on the keyboard; this opens the pull-down menu
  • Press the M key; this actives the Move command without clicking it
  • Move the mouse, or use the arrow keys, to bring the window into view.
  • Click the left mouse button to finish the operation.

You need to do these steps immediately after opening the dialog, as this will not work if the focus is moved to another window or dialog. Also, the second and third steps are not visible, even though the menu is opening and the Move command is being activated. It may help to try this on a computer where the dialog is not missing so you can better understand what is happening.

Once visible, Revit will remember the new location and the problem should be permanently resolved!

This is not a CTC problem, it is more of a Windows problem, as I have seen this happen in other programs. Not sure why Windows cannot prevent this from happening...

The following AKN is specifically for AutoCAD but several of the items covered are applicable to any Windows app:
Autodesk Knowledge Network (AKN): Dialog windows do not display and the program appears to freeze

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