Ensuring Tkinter Dropdown Menus Appear Above All Windows

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make your Tkinter dropdown menus stand out by ensuring they appear above all other windows. By leveraging Python’s capabilities, you can enhance the visibility and usability of your GUI applications.

Introduction to Problem and Solution

When developing GUI applications with Tkinter in Python, it is common to want certain elements like dropdown menus to be more prominent. However, Tkinter’s default behavior does not prioritize displaying elements above all other windows. To address this limitation, we can configure the window properties directly through Python’s interface with the operating system. By setting specific attributes for our Tkinter window or widget, we can control its z-order and ensure that our dropdown menu gets the attention it deserves.


import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import ttk

def create_dropdown():
    # Creating a new Toplevel window to host our dropdown content.
    top_level = tk.Toplevel(root)
    # Ensuring the new window stays above all others.
    top_level.attributes("-topmost", True)

    # Adding content to our Toplevel window as an example.
    label = ttk.Label(top_level, text="Choose an option")

    options = ["Option 1", "Option 2", "Option 3"]
    combobox = ttk.Combobox(top_level, values=options)

# Setting up the main application window
root = tk.Tk()
dropdown_button = ttk.Button(root, text="Open Dropdown", command=create_dropdown)


# Copyright PHD


This code snippet demonstrates creating a simple GUI application where clicking a button opens a dropdown menu using Toplevel. By setting top_level.attributes(“-topmost”, True), we ensure that the new Toplevel window appears above all other windows. This approach brings focus to our dropdown menu without complex OS-level manipulations.

    1. How do I customize my Toplevel window further? You can customize it by using methods like .title(“Window Title”) for naming your Toplevel or .geometry(“widthxheight+x+y”) for sizing and placing it precisely on screen.

    2. Can I apply “-topmost” attribute to widgets inside my main application? The -topmost attribute applies only at the level of entire windows; individual widgets inside those cannot independently layer themselves over others outside their parent container/window.

    3. Will “-topmost” keep my window always at the front? Yes, until either another program uses similar functionality or you programmatically disable it using window.attributes(“-topmost”, False).

    4. Is there any performance impact when using multiple Toplevel() instances? While each instance consumes resources similarly to any other part of your GUI app, modern systems handle multiple small windows well. However, excessive use may lead to cluttered UI/UX design and potential memory considerations in large apps.

    5. Does “-topmost” work across all platforms? This attribute is generally effective across major platforms (Windows/Linux/macOS), but its behavior might slightly vary due to differences in how operating systems manage z-orders and overlays.


By utilizing Python’s flexibility within Tkinter GUIs, you can create responsive interfaces with enhanced user interaction quality. Techniques like manipulating z-order through attributes such as -topmost empower you to improve usability without complex solutions or external dependencies. Start implementing these strategies in your projects for a better user experience!

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