Is there anyway to get the Identify Features button in QGIS to automatically select a layer and provide the information without having to highlight it first in the layers TOC?

MapInfo and ArcGIS automatically highlight, but can't see that QGIS does.

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Yes, there is. Go to Options in the Settings menu and open the tab Map tools.

Then you can set the Identify Mode. You probably want the Top down, stop at first.

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