On Lion, if I am in Chrome and click on an alert from Outlook that says I received an e-mail, I get a new window from Outlook with that e-mail on top of Chrome (I can still see Chrome immediately under my Outlook e-mail window). When I close the e-mail, I would expect the OS to re-focus on the Chrome window (since that's where I came from), but in fact it pulls the Outlook window out and gives it focus instead.

It appears that Lion tries to keep focus on a particular app rather than a particular window. Is there any way to change this behavior so that my interaction with the window "stack" makes sense?


2 Answers 2


This has been the behaviour in OS X's window system since at least the original OS X (10.0), and probably is consistent back to Classic Mac OS (if that's the case, it likely dates back to System 7 or System 6 with MultiFinder).

In any case, this is how it is: to my knowledge, there's no way to change it.

The best you can do is to not leave Outlook's window open all the time. The app won't quit when you close the main window like it does on Windows.

  • 2
    Hrmph. That's very annoying -- Outlook was just an example, but this happens all over the place when an app puts a window in front of my current context (due to an alert or e-mail from Gmail or something). If I close that window I have to Command-Tab to get my context back. May 10, 2012 at 21:47
  • Don't leave app windows open if you're not using them. I'll save on memory and then you won't have them popping up when you get rid of an alert window. You can also sometimes use the Command key to interact with background windows to dismiss alerts without bringing the app to frontmost.
    – Cajunluke
    May 10, 2012 at 22:19
  • 1
    Closing app windows usually doesn't help -- especially when using a web browser. May 11, 2012 at 1:23
  • Another example where this is a constant annoyance: open a browser window from a terminal, and then close the browser window, and instead of being back in the terminal you're teleported to another browser window. Replace browser with editor or file viewer. Mar 16 at 5:55

Would it work for you if the application that mouse pointer is on to have focus? If so, this thread would help:


This might not be exactly what you were looking for, but I think it might solve the issue.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .