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Microsoft KB Archive/104637

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Knowledge Base

How To Trap Arrow Keys in an Edit Control of a Dialog Box

Article ID: 104637

Article Last Modified on 11/21/2006


  • Microsoft Foundation Class Library 4.2, when used with:
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 1.0 Professional Edition
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 1.5 Professional Edition
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 1.51
    • Microsoft Visual C++ 1.52 Professional Edition
    • 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

This article was previously published under Q104637


This article describes how to trap arrow keys in an edit control of a dialog box with the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) versions 2.0 and above. Although the example in this article uses an edit control, a similar mechanism applies to other controls as well.


To trap the arrow keys in an edit control of a dialog box, the following steps may be taken:

  1. Create a dialog box class derived from CDialog. For example, you can create a dialog box class called CMyDlg:public CDialog with Class Wizard.
  2. Create your own edit class and trap WM_GETDLGCODE and WM_KEYDOWN. The code will resemble the following:

          class CMyEdit : public CEdit
          // Construction
               virtual ~CMyEdit();
               afx_msg UINT OnGetDlgCode();
               afx_msg void OnKeyDown(UINT nChar, UINT nRepCnt, UINT nFlags);
          BEGIN_MESSAGE_MAP(CMyEdit, CEdit)
          UINT CMyEdit::OnGetDlgCode()
          void CMyEdit::OnKeyDown(UINT nChar, UINT nRepCnt, UINT nFlags)
               //Check if the key pressed was a DOWN ARROW key
               if (nChar == VK_DOWN)
                    AfxMessageBox("It is a down arrow key!");
               if (nChar == VK_RIGHT)
                    AfxMessageBox("It is a right arrow key!");
               if (nChar == VK_LEFT)
                    AfxMessageBox("It is a left arrow key!");
               if (nChar == VK_UP)
                    AfxMessageBox("It is a up arrow key!");
               CEdit::OnKeyDown(nChar, nRepCnt, nFlags);

    NOTE: if Class Wizard is used to add a CMyEdit class, you must derive the class from CWnd first and then manually change any references of CWnd to CEdit in the code. It is important to trap WM_GEDLGCODE in your own edit class and specify DLGC_WANTARROWS in OnGetDlgCode().

  3. Create a member variable that maps to your own edit class in the dialog box class and override CWnd::DoDataExchange(). Your code should resemble the following:

          class CMyDlg : public CDialog
               CMyEdit m_edit;
               virtual void DoDataExchange(CDataExchange* pDX); //DDX/DDV
          void CMyDlg::DoDataExchange(CDataExchange* pDX)
               DDX_Control(pDX, IDC_EDIT1, m_edit);

    NOTE: This can be done easily by Class Wizard. For example, you can add a member variable m_edit and map it to CEdit and then manually change CEdit references in MyEdit.CPP and MyEdit.H files to CMyEdit.

Additional query words: kbinf 1.00 1.50 1.51 1.52 2.00 2.10 2.50 2.51 3.00 3.10 4.00

Keywords: kbhowto kbuidesign kbctrl KB104637