I'd like to be able to use my computer while my boyfriend plays a game on steam. I have two monitors and he's using a Xbox 360 controller hooked up to my pc.

Is it possible to allow the game to be active for the controller while other applications are active for my keyboard / mouse?

2 Answers 2


It is highly unlikely to accomplish this (though technically possible in theory).

Computers generally only focus on one window or application at a time. The window that is active is the only one that receives input from the keyboard/mouse, and (almost always) the controller. This is why you can play a game in one monitor with a text editor open in the other monitor and not have to worry typing garbled text there. The computer would only send input keys to one application at a time: the one with focus.

There are two ways to circumvent this, which may or may not be options (most likely not):

  1. The game in question is specifically designed to continue running and receive input after losing focus: Most games are specifically designed the exact opposite of this. Usually games are designed to pause when it loses focus.
  2. You have a third party application that governs input methods and routes them to the appropriate window: I'm not aware of such an application, but I anticipate it could potentially exist out there somewhere.

Given the complexity of the configuration at hand, it would likely be easier to either obtain a second computer, or take turns using the one you have.


There's no technical reason this shouldn't work, but it depends on how the games are implemented.

It's trivially easy to write a program that accepts input from a game controller even when it doesn't have keyboard focus. However, if a game isn't written to do this there's no easy way to fix it to work the way you want.

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