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BigBox: how to keep focus @ startup (Win10)


tomahawk51
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I have a dedicated PC running Windows 10 and would like to be able to simply push the power button, let things boot up, and find myself in BigBox's interface. I'd pick up my controller and never touch a mouse / keyboard. I'm so close to that!!! It's all working, except that windows somehow steals back focus (I see the task bar at the bottom of the screen even when bigbox is in the underlined/current app). How can I force BigBox to have full focus / full screen @ startup? Note: I theorized that the SCP Toolkit I use for BT controllers might be stealing focus, which is why I tried a delayed start. I've tried: 1 The standard startup of BigBox in Windows 2 A .bat file to delay startup by 30 seconds (is there a command to force focus instead of just starting the app) 3 Tried WinPatrol, but it didn't seem to launch the program at all at startup. I uninstalled it, as I'd like to keep this wimpy PC as lightweight as possible. In many ways, conquering this is the last step in letting my little kids enjoy aspects of the retro gaming experience. I'm certain there must be a way to conquer this! Help me LB pros, you're my only hope!
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There is a method that has been talked about on these forums before, so search up a little bit here. Essentially you launch Windows without Explorer and instead BigBox automatically launches. Explorer never starts and BigBox launches like normal. If you need explorer for some reason you can Ctrl + Shift + Esc task manager, then File -> Run -> explorer.exe if needed. I am unsure if this still applies but this might set you on the right path: http://www.windowsnetworking.com/kbase/WindowsTips/Windows7/AdminTips/Admin/ReplacingtheExplorerShellinWindows7.html
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Thank you for this approach suggestion. I very well may look to do this, but will try to research a bit more if there is a more.. native.. way to do this in Windows. It strikes me as odd that it would be hard to do this. I don't suggest that BigBox as an app is missing something, but I wonder if other "launcher" apps like Kodi do not see this happen. It just occurred to me that I could use something like Kodi in my equation (though that would be more overhead and steps than desired). Again, thanks for a very possible solution for me.
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People with Kodi do do the same thing you're asking for. Besides adding more programs there isn't many ways to do this. Microsoft doesn't necessarily want to make this easy on users on purpose. Editing the registry is a common way to make Windows do things that you want it to do and some programs probably do this automatically for you, this is just a manual way to do it and it is reversible.
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I made a batch file that you can place in your startup folder. Upon starting Windows/Logging in it will stop explorer.exe and run BigBox instead. Upon exiting BigBox (if you need to do so) it will start explorer.exe.
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe cd C:\<Path to BigBox Directory>\ BigBox.exe start explorer.exe
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This is how i do it, this is just a copy past from the interwebs but you can pretty much do it with any programe, i do it with Kodi and Launch BigBox thru Kodi. Making Registry Edits so that Steam runs as your shell ============================================== This is the trickier bit and involves some commitment to Steam on your part, though is easily reversible - it will make Steam run instead of your normal Windows Desktop after Windows has booted and you've logged in. 1. Bring up the Windows 'Run' dialogue box, either from the Start Menu or by pressing your Windows key and R at the same time. 2. Type 'regedit' and click OK. 3. Navigate to [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon] 4. Right click in the folder pane to the right and select 'New > String Value' 5. Name it 'Shell.' 5. Right click on 'Shell' and select 'Modify.' 6. Type in the path to Steam.exe and click OK. By default on a 64 bit system the full path will be "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steam.exe” - personally I just have Steam installed at root - "C:\Steam" :) ========================================================== Part 3 (optional): Setup your PC to automatically login to your Windows account ========================================================== If you are not a complete security nut and only have one account on your PC, you can set it up to automatically login, so you don't have to select a user and/or type a password. Instructions for this varies according to your Windows version. See here for full information: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/tipstricks/f/auto-login-windows.htm NOW REBOOT YOUR PC AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS YOU DID IT ALL OKAY! Whilst waiting for your PC to boot up, grab your Xbox 360 Controller and turn it on ready to navigate that lovely Steam Big Picture Mode. ============== Troubleshooting etc ============== If you get only a black screen with a cursor instead, or your gamepad doesn't work, or whatever, press control+alt+delete and select 'Task Manager.' Go to File>New Task (Run) and type "explorer.exe" - this should bring back your regular desktop until you log in again. You can also use this method to access Windows if you want to do anything else. Go back and check that you made all the registry edits exactly right. To remove the Steam bootingness, just delete the 'Shell' entry you added.
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cejpe said I made a batch file that you can place in your startup folder. Upon starting Windows/Logging in it will stop explorer.exe and run BigBox instead. Upon exiting BigBox (if you need to do so) it will start explorer.exe.
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe cd C:\<Path to BigBox Directory>\ BigBox.exe start explorer.exe
THANK YOU for this simple approach. It is working perfectly for me, and I really appreciate the light weight and quickly reversible approach (vs. the Registry approach which I appreciate has a defensible virtue). With this major victory, I'm only thinking that an ability to shut down the computer from the Big Box interface (controller) would be slick. I'm thinking about the ability to call another .bat file or something. I'll make it a feature suggestion now. Thanks all! Very happy with my setup now, and so is my 5 yr old.Cool
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Actually the Registry way is reversable. It is easy to create two bat files. One to change the registry so that Explorer doesn't load, and if you need to get in to Explorer Ctrl + Shift + Esc, File -> Run New Task. That is if you need back in, to reverse the changes the second bat can change the registry back to what it was, and when you restart Explorer will launch. The method @cejpe created is perfectly viable, but Explorer is still technically launching and just being closed. It is as if you opened Task Manager and closed the explorer process, just automatically. The registry stops explorer from launching all together, but is still reversable.
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SentaiBrad said Actually the Registry way is reversable. It is easy to create two bat files. One to change the registry so that Explorer doesn't load, and if you need to get in to Explorer Ctrl + Shift + Esc, File -> Run New Task. That is if you need back in, to reverse the changes the second bat can change the registry back to what it was, and when you restart Explorer will launch. The method @cejpe created is perfectly viable, but Explorer is still technically launching and just being closed. It is as if you opened Task Manager and closed the explorer process, just automatically. The registry stops explorer from launching all together, but is still reversable.
I understand better; thank you. The "Ctrl + Shift + Esc, File -> Run New Task" approach probably isn't too game-controller-only friendly, which is a goal for my dedicated box (i.e. to never require a keyboard/mouse). But, the registry approach may be relevant for me if the enhancement request I just submitted is seen as valuable (i.e. the idea of executing a .bat/whatever from BigBox). Either way, again thanks and I'm very pleased right now with my mildly-lashed-up BigBox solution.
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The registry changes regardless of if you do it from a bat or manually, you can create a 3rd bat file and add that to LaunchBox / BigBox that loads explorer on command. So you can do that from inside the program. Even if you want it to be controller only, you'll still need a Keyboard and mouse from time to time anyways for debugging, updates, software management etc. So the end goal is to create an enviroment where it is Controller only, but you'll still need the tried and true from time to time.
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Yeah that makes sense my method would launch explorer but once there you would still need to have the keyboard and the mouse to do anything with it. I of course would have a keyboard and mouse for anything I was setting up even if it was a cheap $20 dollar Bluetooth mini keyboard. It still is a computer and there will always be occasions where a controller just won't do everything that you need to do even if they are few and far between.
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SentaiBrad said I was thinking more of a way so that it can be launched with a controller from inside BigBox, but I still think if you need to go in to explorer you need a mouse and keyboard, so Ctrl + Shift + Esc and launching Explorer that way works.
Thanks again, I can tell you are passionate about the registry approach! Anyway, just for clarity, I do have a very nice wireless all in one Logitech keyboard attached to this PC but the goal is for that thing to (almost) never be needed. But, if it is needed for some reason, I'm very certain I'll have better luck helping my 5 year old and even my wife with an approach that doesn't require knowing to execute a Ctrl + Shift + Esc sequence. I just thought I'd share dimensions of the use case for your benefit. Like I said, I'm now close to utopia on my BigBox experience. I only await a planned update to the SCP Bluetooth Controller software that will remove an annoying Update Not Needed prompt (which does require that keyboard to come out).
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  • 5 months later...

FWIW - I've been using the .bat approach at startup, and it does bring BigBox directly into focus - no alt-tabing.

I can use my controller to quit from the BigBox interface to go back to Explorer, which is great so I never need to see my keyboard on a good day (updates are an example where that comes out).  It's so cool btw to have a dedicated pc that loads up and shuts down so easily.  Thanks to Jason/Brad/whoever for those simple improvements to allow Shut Down and Exit, etc.

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