I don’t know what I did in Windows 8.1, Dave, but suddenly I have these annoying “Switch between apps” windows on screen. I’m on a PC desktop so I don’t even have a touch screen, but it’s sure convinced I do and just am not using it right. They’re also incredibly persistent, overlaying the desktop, apps, etc. HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM????
The good news is that it’s rarely necessary to use ALL CAPS in your questions to AskDaveTaylor, but the bad news is that these are incredibly persistent little buggers and it’s not at all clear why they show up or what they’re attached to. Worse, clicking on them or even right-clicking is ignored, so there’s no way to close them or work backwards to figure out what’s producing them.
Oh, and if you actually perform the action they suggest, they stay there too.
Crazy. Who came up with this feature?
Turns out that these help tip windows are part of the Windows 8 “human interface device” or HID interface, and it’s deep into the guts of Windows that you need to travel to disable them.
Let’s put on our surgical gloves, take a deep breath, and jump in.
First off, here’s the kind of window you see popping up on the left or right side of your screen:
Useful for a few seconds, but when it won’t go away? Then “Switch between apps” becomes “GET OUTTA MY WAY!”
I totally understand.
To get rid of these “helpful” windows, let’s start with how it’s supposed to work. All you’re supposed to need to do is mouse up into the top left corner of your screen. This is supposed to get rid of the reminder window.
Worked? Awesome. You’re done.
How easy was that?
Still showing up, however? Then the journey starts by searching…
Use the Cmd-S or Windows-S shortcut to get to search, then type in “device manager”. Click on the matching app and you’ll see a list of devices. Scroll down as needed and click on the tiny triangle next to “Human Interface Devices” to open up the options therein:
Double click on “HID-complaint touch screen” to proceed and it’ll show you that the device is installed and working fine:
which is a bit confusing if you, like me, don’t even have a touch screen. What’s Windows thinking when it says it’s fine and hooked up to a USB device? Weird.
To eliminate those little pop-up tip windows, click on the “Driver” tab and you’ll see more info:
Click on “Disable” and Windows will confirm that you really want to do this:
Yeah, you do. You really do. Anything to get rid of those annoying little pop-up tip windows!
Click on “Yes” and… done.
That’s all there is to it.
Now as to why this enables in the first place and why those tips just suddenly start showing up on screen, I’m not clear. In my case it was because I was experimenting with some Ease of Access features in the system, I think. In any case, windows that can’t be closed and don’t explain what they’re about on a pop-up tip are just bad form and bad user design. But at least you know how to disable them now!