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shbrowseforfolder (shell32)

C# Signature:

static extern IntPtr SHBrowseForFolder(ref BROWSEINFO lpbi);

VB.NET Signature

<DllImport("shell32.dll", SetLastError:=true, EntryPoint:="SHBrowseForFolderW", CharSet:=CharSet.Unicode)> _
Public Shared Function SHBrowseForFolder(<MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.Struct)>ByRef lpFileOp As BROWSEINFO) As IntPtr
End function

VB Signature

Public Declare Function SHBrowseForFolder Lib "shell32.dll" Alias "SHBrowseForFolderA" _
        (prmtypBrowseInfo As BROWSEINFO) As Long

User-Defined Types:




Tips & Tricks:

Please add some!

Sample Code:

    public class BrowseForFolder
        // Constants for sending and receiving messages in BrowseCallBackProc
        public const int WM_USER = 0x400;
        public const int BFFM_INITIALIZED = 1;
        public const int BFFM_SELCHANGED = 2;
        public const int BFFM_VALIDATEFAILEDA = 3;
        public const int BFFM_VALIDATEFAILEDW = 4;
        public const int BFFM_IUNKNOWN = 5; // provides IUnknown to client. lParam: IUnknown*
        public const int BFFM_SETSTATUSTEXTA = WM_USER + 100;
        public const int BFFM_ENABLEOK = WM_USER + 101;
        public const int BFFM_SETSELECTIONA = WM_USER + 102;
        public const int BFFM_SETSELECTIONW = WM_USER + 103;
        public const int BFFM_SETSTATUSTEXTW = WM_USER + 104;
        public const int BFFM_SETOKTEXT = WM_USER + 105; // Unicode only
        public const int BFFM_SETEXPANDED = WM_USER + 106; // Unicode only

        // Browsing for directory.
        private uint BIF_RETURNONLYFSDIRS   = 0x0001;  // For finding a folder to start document searching
        private uint BIF_DONTGOBELOWDOMAIN  = 0x0002;  // For starting the Find Computer
        private uint BIF_STATUSTEXT     = 0x0004;  // Top of the dialog has 2 lines of text for BROWSEINFO.lpszTitle and one line if
        // this flag is set.  Passing the message BFFM_SETSTATUSTEXTA to the hwnd can set the
        // rest of the text.  This is not used with BIF_USENEWUI and BROWSEINFO.lpszTitle gets
        // all three lines of text.
        private uint BIF_RETURNFSANCESTORS  = 0x0008;
        private uint BIF_EDITBOX        = 0x0010;   // Add an editbox to the dialog
        private uint BIF_VALIDATE       = 0x0020;   // insist on valid result (or CANCEL)

        private uint BIF_NEWDIALOGSTYLE     = 0x0040;   // Use the new dialog layout with the ability to resize
        // Caller needs to call OleInitialize() before using this API
        private uint BIF_USENEWUI  = 0x0040 + 0x0010; //(BIF_NEWDIALOGSTYLE | BIF_EDITBOX);

        private uint BIF_BROWSEINCLUDEURLS  = 0x0080;   // Allow URLs to be displayed or entered. (Requires BIF_USENEWUI)
        private uint BIF_UAHINT         = 0x0100;   // Add a UA hint to the dialog, in place of the edit box. May not be combined with BIF_EDITBOX
        private uint BIF_NONEWFOLDERBUTTON  = 0x0200;   // Do not add the "New Folder" button to the dialog.  Only applicable with BIF_NEWDIALOGSTYLE.
        private uint BIF_NOTRANSLATETARGETS = 0x0400;  // don't traverse target as shortcut

        private uint BIF_BROWSEFORCOMPUTER  = 0x1000;  // Browsing for Computers.
        private uint BIF_BROWSEFORPRINTER   = 0x2000;// Browsing for Printers
        private uint BIF_BROWSEINCLUDEFILES = 0x4000; // Browsing for Everything
        private uint BIF_SHAREABLE      = 0x8000;  // sharable resources displayed (remote shares, requires BIF_USENEWUI)

        static extern IntPtr SHBrowseForFolder(ref BROWSEINFO lpbi);

          // Note that the BROWSEINFO object's pszDisplayName only gives you the name of the folder.
        // To get the actual path, you need to parse the returned PIDL
        [DllImport("shell32.dll", CharSet=CharSet.Unicode)]
        // static extern uint SHGetPathFromIDList(IntPtr pidl, [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.LPWStr)]
        //StringBuilder pszPath);
        static extern bool SHGetPathFromIDList(IntPtr pidl, IntPtr pszPath);

        [DllImport("user32.dll", PreserveSig = true)]
        public static extern IntPtr SendMessage(HandleRef hWnd, uint Msg, int wParam, IntPtr lParam);

        [DllImport("user32.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Auto)]
        public static extern IntPtr SendMessage(HandleRef hWnd, int msg, int wParam, string lParam);

        private string _initialPath;

        public delegate int BrowseCallBackProc(IntPtr hwnd, int msg, IntPtr lp, IntPtr wp);
        struct BROWSEINFO
            public IntPtr hwndOwner;
            public IntPtr pidlRoot;
            public string pszDisplayName;
            public string lpszTitle;
            public uint ulFlags;
            public BrowseCallBackProc lpfn;
            public IntPtr lParam;
            public int iImage;
        public int OnBrowseEvent(IntPtr hWnd, int msg, IntPtr lp, IntPtr lpData)
            case BFFM_INITIALIZED: // Required to set initialPath
                //Win32.SendMessage(new HandleRef(null, hWnd), BFFM_SETSELECTIONA, 1, lpData);
                // Use BFFM_SETSELECTIONW if passing a Unicode string, i.e. native CLR Strings.
                SendMessage(new HandleRef(null, hWnd), BFFM_SETSELECTIONW, 1, _initialPath);
            case BFFM_SELCHANGED:
                IntPtr pathPtr = Marshal.AllocHGlobal((int)(260 * Marshal.SystemDefaultCharSize));
                if (SHGetPathFromIDList(lp, pathPtr))
                SendMessage(new HandleRef(null, hWnd), BFFM_SETSTATUSTEXTW, 0, pathPtr);

            return 0;

        public string SelectFolder(string caption, string initialPath, IntPtr parentHandle)
            _initialPath = initialPath;
            StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(256);
            IntPtr bufferAddress = Marshal.AllocHGlobal(256); ;
            IntPtr pidl = IntPtr.Zero;
            BROWSEINFO bi = new BROWSEINFO();
            bi.hwndOwner = parentHandle;
            bi.pidlRoot = IntPtr.Zero;
            bi.lpszTitle = caption;
            bi.ulFlags = BIF_NEWDIALOGSTYLE | BIF_SHAREABLE;
            bi.lpfn = new BrowseCallBackProc(OnBrowseEvent);
            bi.lParam = IntPtr.Zero;
            bi.iImage = 0;

                pidl = SHBrowseForFolder(ref bi);
                if (true != SHGetPathFromIDList(pidl, bufferAddress))
                    return null;
                // Caller is responsible for freeing this memory.

            return sb.ToString();

Alternative Managed API:

If using .net version 1.1 or greater, you can use System.Windows.Forms.FolderBrowserDialog instead -- as long as you are only browsing for folders! If you want to browse for computers or printers, the .Net version does not seem to support this.



You need to be in an STA thread for the BIF_NEWDIALOGSTYLE to work correctly. Use the STAThread attribute on your Main function, or create a new thread and call SetApartmentState before it is started. The default apartment state is MTA so if this isn't working for you, that could be why.

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