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Retrieving Logged In User Name using a Windows Service

, 8 Jul 2005
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This is a small program which describes how can we retrieve the username of the currently logged in user without using the old API functions. This method uses WMI classes to retrieve this information.


This is a small Windows service program which retrieves the username of the currently logged in user. There might arise some situations when you need to have this information through a Windows service. If we use traditional API functions like GetUserName or GetUserNameEx, they simply return the user name of the process account under which that Windows service is running. It is the SYSTEM account in most cases. The above mentioned API functions always return SYSTEM as the currently logged in user.

Main Idea

To over come this problem, we can use Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) classes. The main idea is that we get the username of the Explorer process under which it is running. And we know that the Explorer process is always running under the account with which the current user has been logged in.

To use this code you need to download a WMI plug-in from here. It will install WMI extensions for Visual Studio .NET 2003 Server Explorer. Now follow the steps as mentioned:


  1. Create a Windows Service project using VB.NET.
  2. Open Server Explorer and expand the tree node which says Management Classes.
  3. Right click on Processes node and select "Generate Managed Class". This will add a reference to the System.Management namespace.
  4. Now import System.Management namespace in your project (Service1.vb).
  5. In the OnStart procedure, add the following code:
    Dim mc As New ManagementClass("Win32_Process")
    Dim moc As ManagementObjectCollection = mc.GetInstances
    Dim mo As ManagementObject
    Dim processDomain, processUser As String
     For Each mo In moc
         Dim p As New ROOT.CIMV2.Process(mo)
         p.GetOwner(processDomain, processUser)
           If (p.Name.Trim = "explorer.exe") Then
              Return processUser
              Exit For
           End If

The simple explanation of the above code is that it loops through all the running processes on the system and as it finds the "explorer.exe" process, it returns its username. And this is the username of the currently logged in user as well.

You can print this user name in a file by adding the following code:

Dim myFile As New _



Install the Windows service using InstallUtil and run and test it. For this purpose, read other articles on how to install and run a Windows service.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Baber Saeed
Web Developer
Pakistan Pakistan
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

SuggestionWhy not use Win32_LogonSession and Win32_LoggedOnUser? PinmemberAsh201324-Sep-13 7:49 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberant14887-Mar-13 4:59 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberFidoDildo11-Jan-12 5:24 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberAnton Lesnichenko13-Jul-11 6:03 
GeneralHere's how to do this in C/C++ PinmemberBigBenF102417-Oct-08 11:19 
GeneralRe: Here's how to do this in C/C++ Pinmemberant14888-Mar-13 1:13 
GeneralTry This to get current logged on user using windows service in c# Pinmemberpramodgupta2413-Jul-08 21:12 
GeneralRe: Try This to get current logged on user using windows service in c# PinmemberVINOTHKUMAR.R5-Aug-08 6:07 
GeneralRe: Try This to get current logged on user using windows service in c# PinmemberBart_Rennes23-Feb-10 7:42 
GeneralNot 100% accurate Pinmembernetikus31-Mar-08 7:21 
It's definitely a smart idea to determine the currently logged on user(s) by looking at the explorer.exe process, but please keep in mind that this is not 100% accurate. Shucks | :-\
Any local admin can change the "shell" and substitute it with a different process. There are many other processes available out there.
It would probably be better to enumerate all processes and temporarily record all usernames that are tied to processes. Then, filter out the ones that are built-in (e.g. LocalSystem, etc.) and display the remaining ones.
It's more work, but would be 100% accurate.
GeneralRetrieving current logged-in username from windows serivce in VC++2005 Pinmemberanumadhu10-Apr-07 2:42 
Questionretrieve password Pinmembersshqyl14-Mar-07 21:30 
QuestionRe: retrieve password PinmemberMember 40413812-Dec-08 0:51 
GeneralThanks a lot + can u suggest something for Shutdown PinmemberBSRK16-Nov-06 1:49 
QuestionRetrieve Logged in User Name using a Windows Service PinmemberDon_Sartain2-Sep-06 7:19 
AnswerRe: Retrieve Logged in User Name using a Windows Service PinmemberBSRK16-Nov-06 1:46 
QuestionWinXP proglem Pinmemberplaff14-Aug-06 11:54 
AnswerRe: WinXP proglem PinmemberBrownStar16-Nov-06 5:29 
QuestionSame problem using ManagementClass to get MAC Address PinmemberJohn Boero7-Dec-06 12:07 
AnswerBoo-yah! PinmemberJohn Boero7-Dec-06 12:45 
GeneralGREAT PinmemberJeremys78-Jun-06 12:42 
QuestionRetrieve process user name PinmemberGeorge Hendrickson29-May-06 14:03 
GeneralUser Name PinmemberTier510-May-06 8:43 
GeneralWMI Event log API PinmemberVitoto1-Jan-06 12:27 
QuestionWhy? Pinmember5150@abrichardson.com10-Oct-05 8:19 

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