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I am looking for a software utility tool that would:

  • work on MS Windows 7 (preferably)
  • allow me to draw an arbitrary line on desktop foreground
  • this line would appear over any other software window and be ignored, i.e. will not be select-able, clickable, drag-able, etc, until maybe it in a configuration mode. Otherwise, it will be always visible over any other software but completely "inert". This line should be visible as if it is scratched on the screen surface itself, in other words it should be completely ignored by the OS and software applications, mouse cursor, etc, unless in line config mode or turned off.
  • Hopefully the line properties such as length, direction, color and thickness will be configurable.
  • Hopefully this utility would keep its settings to easily repeat last setup (save or load another setup, load on start).
  • I will use it as a guide for some UI ideas I am working on. I am aware that the screen is drawn differently, and that some software like games or movie players write "directly to video buffer?", and hopefully this line would remain visible on top of everything else even in those cases.
  • Currently I am literally gluing thin threads over my monitor, but this is very inefficient because it is very hard to achieve perfect repeatability when changing from one setup to another.

I do have rudimentary coding skills, so if there is no such tool, which easy language should I look into to write one?

1 Answer 1

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There is a free windows program called Epic Pen that appears to meet your requirements:

  • Works on Win7
  • Draws lines
  • Line weight and color adjustable
  • restrict to ortho by holding shift
  • always on top
  • returns previous artwork when restarted

last two bullet points not application related

There's also a paid version that I did not examine, as the free one covers all your requirements. I have this program and have tested it for your specifications.

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  • Thank you. Epic Pen doesn't have the line tool in a free version, nor a way to constrain the regular pen. I did not specify that the answer should necessarily be gratis soft. Thus you've answered it. I am currently playing with ppInk software, which does what I want, but switches to the normal mode for only one mouse click and then goes back to drawing mode, unfortunately. It is much better than the Epic Pen though, otherwise, I think. Anyway, I keep looking. Or, if nothing I would have to buy EP as you recommended.
    – Kontovski
    Jun 17, 2022 at 5:27
  • Just for those who might be reading this later and looking for a similar solutions. I have tried about 30 different applications. Only one of them worked in the end: ppInk.
    – Kontovski
    Jun 19, 2022 at 20:11
  • About ppInk: pubpub-zz.github.io/ppInk ; Download ppInk: github.com/pubpub-zz/ppInk . The application itself is FULL of bugs and not working at all as is, you will need to tune it by messing with the options, config file, and save files, but it is free. Keep an open mind because it doesn't do exactly what the readme says it should do, and the author will blame you rather than look in his own bugs.
    – Kontovski
    Jun 19, 2022 at 20:21
  • The interface is backwards and the meaning of buttons is ambiguous. Alas, this is the only one that could be configured to work and it works fine. I have to create my lines by hacking save files, but at least it does display a line that the OS ignores, on top of everything else, and it could be saved/loaded. It is portable (in the sense that it doesn't need and installer) and it can hide its own interface completely while working.
    – Kontovski
    Jun 19, 2022 at 20:21

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