Microsoft KB Archive/104094

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How to use a console screen from a console application in Visual C++

Article ID: 104094

Article Last Modified on 8/9/2005


  • Microsoft Visual C++ 1.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2.1
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0 Service Pack 5
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q104094


With a Win32-based console application, you can call the functions in the Win32 application programming interface (API).


Because GRAPHICS.LIB and PGCHART.LIB do not ship with Visual C++, 32-bit Edition, the API functions can be used for graphical output or screen manipulation.

The following console sample illustrates how to use the API to change the background color of output to the screen. For further examples of console applications included with Visual C++ version 4.0, 5.0, and 6.0, see the CONGUI and CONSOLE sample programs in the \MSDEV\SAMPLES\SDK\WIN32 directory, or online help in versions 5.0 and 6.0. For examples of console applications included with Visual C++ versions 1.0 and 2.x, see the CONGUI, CONSOLE, CONSOLEC, and INHERIT sample programs in the \MSVCNT\SAMPLES directory.

Sample Code

/* Compile options needed:  None

#include <windows.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main( void )
  HANDLE  hConsole;
  WORD    ForeColor = 0;
  WORD    BackColor;
  WORD    wAttributesOld;

  // **  Open the current console input buffer.
  if( ( hConsole = CreateFile(
                     "CONOUT$", GENERIC_WRITE | GENERIC_READ,
                     FILE_SHARE_READ | FILE_SHARE_WRITE,
                     0L, OPEN_EXISTING, FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NORMAL, 0L) )
                 == (HANDLE) -1 ) {
      printf("\nError: Unable to open console.\n");
      return( -1 );

  // **  Get and Save information on the console screen buffer.
  GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo( hConsole, &csbi );
  wAttributesOld = csbi.wAttributes;

  // **  Display different backgrounds.
  for( BackColor = 0; BackColor < 8 ; BackColor++ ) {
      SetConsoleTextAttribute( hConsole, (WORD) ( (BackColor << 4) |
                               ForeColor) );
      printf(" XxXxXx ");

  // **  Restore the foreground and background color attribute.
  SetConsoleTextAttribute( hConsole, wAttributesOld );
  return 1;

Additional query words: 8.00 9.00

Keywords: kbinfo kbarttypeinf KB104094