You may have noticed that there are times when certain buttons, checkboxes or windows in a software or Microsoft Windows operating system itself gets disabled or grayed out and clicking on them will have no effect. This limitation is there on purpose and for reasons like restricting the functionality until the software is activated or as a safety measure that requires to complete a step before allowing you to proceed to the next. It could also be a restriction set by the administrator to prevent other people from tampering the system and changing the configurations.
Logically most of the time the buttons are disabled for a good reason but there are times when you really need them enabled. For example, unlike fully functional trial software, some software demo has their main functionality crippled and you don’t get to test them out until you pay for a valid license to activate the software. Or perhaps the LiveUpdate button on Symantec Endpoint Protection client has been disabled and you urgently need to pull the latest signature from the server to detect the latest threats. If you have a similar situation where you need to forcefully enable a disabled button, you can try any of the 6 tools listed below which we have successfully tested on Windows 7.
Winabler is a brilliant piece of tool that can enable the disabled objects such as buttons, checkboxes and even menus on a graphical user interface (GUI). Attempting to enable the grayed out buttons is easy as you only need to drag and drop the cross hair to the button that you want to enable. If you find an object that automatically disables after enabling it, you can tick on the checkbox “Repeatedly enable objects that continually disable themselves” below the crosshair. Another unique feature found in Winabler is the “menu capture and enabling”. Basically this function will capture all the menus on a window that Winabler can detect and then offers you to click on any of them regardless if they are enabled or disabled. Do take note that you should be clicking on the captured menu in Winabler instead of the source.
2. TurnItOn! / Enable!
Enable! previously known as TurnItOn! is a free and portable tool that offers slightly more control over the rest because it shows the lists of detected buttons and you can selectively choose to enable the disabled buttons. First you need to click and hold the “Drag me!” text, then drag and drop it to the disabled object. Then at the text, select the detected object that you want to enable followed by clicking the Enable! button. Other than just enable, you can also disable, show, activate and hide objects.
DM2 is actually a windows manager that allows you to manipulate opened windows such as putting it on top, minimizing to tray and etc. It supports custom plugins and by default it comes with one called WinEnable that simply enables disabled buttons and windows with a hotkey. Do note that it does not work right out of the box and requires assigning a hotkey to enable the command. Run DM2, double click on the DM2 tray icon at the notification area to bring up the settings and click on Hotkey. Click the Add button, set a hotkey and select “Toggle WinEnable module (Plugins)” from the command drop down menu. Click Save.
Whenever you want to enable a disable button, press the hotkey that you assigned earlier and you will notice an additional tray icon that looks like multiple windows loaded in the notification area. Move your mouse cursor to the grayed out button and click on it to enable it.
4. Windows Enabler
If you are looking for an easy to use object enabling tool that works by clicking a single button, Windows Enabler is one of such tool. Windows Enabler is probably one of the first program that is able to enable disabled buttons because it was released 10 years ago and surprisingly it still works under Windows 7! The archive comes with 4 files and all you need to do is run Windows Enable.exe file and double click on the tray icon. When you see word “On” added to the tray icon, you can now click on any disabled buttons to attempt to enable it. There is no graphical user interface nor configuration windows.
Enabler is a very small (60KB in file size) and simple tool that can be used to enable the disable Windows button with only a click of a mouse button. All you need to do is run the program and click the Enable button. The only drawback with such simple tool is you don’t know for sure whether it manage to detect the disabled button in the first place.
6. Daanav Enabler
Unlike all of the tools listed above, Daanav Enabler is a more up to date tool that is tested to work under Windows 8. To enable disabled windows, you can either click the “Enable Disabled” button or press the F6 key when your mouse cursor is hovered on the titlebar of the application window.
Although Daanav Enabler is new, our only gripe on this tool is it comes with an unnecessary installer when it is actually a very small program that is portable.
Editor’s Note: If you are eager to test the programs above but currently can’t think of where to find a disabled button, try running Windows Task Manager. Simultaneously press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Windows Task Manager and click on the Users tab. Then click on your user name and you will see the “Send Message” button grayed out / disabled. You can now enabling the Send Message button with any of the 6 tools that we have mentioned and it should work. Do note that not all disabled or grayed out buttons, checkboxes, radios and etc can be enabled.