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Using Windows XP Styles in your MFC/WIN32 Applications

, 14 Sep 2003
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A simple and short guide to adding and using XP styles in your MFC/Win32 application.


I wanted to try and write an article for the The Code Project and thought this would be a good start. It's a little short but hopefully a few people will find it useful. If you have any suggestions on the article let me know.

So what's it about?

This article will show you how to quickly and easily add the capability to use themes under XP. This means whatever theme the user is using under Windows XP will control the look of your application. See the example below:

Sample image

Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000

Sample image

Windows XP

Manifest yourself

One of the first things that need to be done to use XP Styles in your MFC application is to create the manifest XML file for your application. You can paste the following code into a new notepad document and save it in a file called manifest.xml. Save this file in your project directory. It's not required, but you can fill in the description and name of your application if you would like.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?> 

<assembly xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1" manifestVersion="1.0"> 
 <description>Your application description here.</description> 

Once that is completed, you will want to add the manifest.xml file to your project in the resource editor. In Visual Studio 6, hit Ctrl+R to add a new resource, select all files and double click manifest.xml to add the file. When you see the custom resource dialog, enter the number "24" as the resource type and hit OK. Once imported, right click on the resource to open the properties window and change the ID to the number "1".

Just one line...

To initialize everything you need to call InitCommonControls() in your program. I usually put this in the InitInstance() function but you can also use in the InitDialog() and still have it work. It should look something like this:

//Make sure this is here so you can use XP Styles

Now when you run your program you should see XP style controls in your program, unless of course you have Windows XP set to the classic style which then everything will pretty much look the same.

I want more info!

If you're looking for some more information on using XP themes in your code I would recommend checking one of the best resources I have found for information on MSDN. The page is here.


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.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Program Manager Microsoft
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

QuestionArrow sign for Tree Control instead of plus/minus sign Pin
Member 7894601 at 12-Jun-14 19:47
memberMember 789460112-Jun-14 19:47 
QuestionMust use a manifest File Pin
sayer at 19-Dec-12 15:48
membersayer19-Dec-12 15:48 

Is it possible to get Windows XP styles without manifest.xml
becomes some of programs seem XP Windows style and no manifest.xml with it.

QuestionXP Style for Custom contro Pin
eprakash1987 at 23-Aug-12 2:25
membereprakash198723-Aug-12 2:25 
GeneralThanks! Pin
Alan Balkany at 16-Jul-10 17:02
memberAlan Balkany16-Jul-10 17:02 
GeneralWindows 7? [modified] Pin
billyjoesunday at 22-Jan-10 11:32
memberbillyjoesunday22-Jan-10 11:32 
GeneralAnother Way Pin
heiitx at 7-Dec-09 1:24
memberheiitx7-Dec-09 1:24 
GeneralRe: Another Way Pin
metalinspired at 17-Dec-09 11:53
membermetalinspired17-Dec-09 11:53 
QuestionManifest dependency reduces performance? Pin
mala P at 30-Sep-08 12:28
membermala P30-Sep-08 12:28 
QuestionIs it possible to enable xp theme in win32 application without manifest..? Pin
basawaraj at 17-May-08 2:09
memberbasawaraj17-May-08 2:09 
GeneralEnable (or Embed ) XP theme in win32 application Pin
basawaraj at 15-May-08 21:51
memberbasawaraj15-May-08 21:51 
GeneralRe: Enable (or Embed ) XP theme in win32 application Pin
vijay shankar at 12-Jun-08 2:25
membervijay shankar12-Jun-08 2:25 
Generalvc4.0 Pin
Riick at 12-May-08 6:01
memberRiick12-May-08 6:01 
GeneralSomething isn't right here Pin
alan93 at 26-Aug-07 12:05
memberalan9326-Aug-07 12:05 
GeneralRe: Something isn't right here Pin
Priya_Sundar at 17-Mar-08 20:40
memberPriya_Sundar17-Mar-08 20:40 
GeneralDoes not work for a simple Win32 APP Pin
samwise_i at 16-Mar-07 13:30
membersamwise_i16-Mar-07 13:30 
GeneralRe: Does not work for a simple Win32 APP Pin
anvil_of_crom at 19-Nov-07 0:27
memberanvil_of_crom19-Nov-07 0:27 
Questionhow do you rollback ? Pin
sperate13 at 2-Feb-07 3:50
membersperate132-Feb-07 3:50 
AnswerRe: how do you rollback ? Pin
sperate13 at 2-Feb-07 5:15
membersperate132-Feb-07 5:15 
QuestionIs This Needed? Pin
alan93 at 27-Jul-06 4:43
memberalan9327-Jul-06 4:43 
AnswerRe: Is This Needed? Pin
fiuygloINS at 18-Aug-07 7:42
memberfiuygloINS18-Aug-07 7:42 
Generalworks like a charm Pin
vjedlicka at 18-Jul-06 6:01
membervjedlicka18-Jul-06 6:01 
GeneralUsing Windows XP Styles in WIN32 Applications Pin
prem kumar singh at 20-Dec-06 20:51
memberprem kumar singh20-Dec-06 20:51 
GeneralVisual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
Xanblax at 14-Dec-05 14:29
memberXanblax14-Dec-05 14:29 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
Xanblax at 14-Dec-05 14:36
memberXanblax14-Dec-05 14:36 
AnswerRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
Kluch at 15-Dec-05 19:28
memberKluch15-Dec-05 19:28 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
Xanblax at 16-Dec-05 9:35
memberXanblax16-Dec-05 9:35 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
4jb at 4-Jul-09 9:56
member4jb4-Jul-09 9:56 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. [modified] Pin
sciencekrishnan at 20-Jul-09 23:31
membersciencekrishnan20-Jul-09 23:31 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
sciencekrishnan at 22-Jul-09 2:06
membersciencekrishnan22-Jul-09 2:06 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio 2005 linking errors. Pin
NoName23 at 5-Apr-07 6:03
memberNoName235-Apr-07 6:03 
GeneralExtending this to applications running in Win 2000 Pin
Andyzyx at 16-Jul-05 13:21
memberAndyzyx16-Jul-05 13:21 
GeneralRe: Extending this to applications running in Win 2000 Pin
Anna-Jayne Metcalfe at 6-Oct-05 8:07
memberAnna-Jayne Metcalfe6-Oct-05 8:07 
GeneralMSFlexGrid Control not themed Pin
Joe Colosi at 8-Jun-05 5:18
memberJoe Colosi8-Jun-05 5:18 
Generalneed help please Pin
KingKonni at 22-Feb-05 21:57
memberKingKonni22-Feb-05 21:57 
GeneralWorks great Pin
richard sancenot at 3-Aug-04 23:23
memberrichard sancenot3-Aug-04 23:23 
GeneralTrouble with CToolbar Pin
manero at 30-Jan-04 3:57
membermanero30-Jan-04 3:57 
GeneralRe: Trouble with CToolbar Pin
What's my name? at 5-Feb-06 14:23
memberWhat's my name?5-Feb-06 14:23 
QuestionRe: Trouble with CToolbar Pin
flyingxu at 8-Nov-06 16:29
memberflyingxu8-Nov-06 16:29 
GeneralRe: Trouble with CToolbar Pin
kj_kho at 30-Jul-08 20:23
memberkj_kho30-Jul-08 20:23 
QuestionHow to enable XP style in MFC dll Pin
salonent at 8-Oct-03 20:39
membersalonent8-Oct-03 20:39 
AnswerRe: How to enable XP style in MFC dll Pin
Dick Marjot at 23-Dec-04 20:49
memberDick Marjot23-Dec-04 20:49 
AnswerRe: How to enable XP style in MFC dll Pin
Shail_Srivastav at 15-Feb-05 2:21
memberShail_Srivastav15-Feb-05 2:21 
AnswerRe: How to enable XP style in MFC dll Pin
Anonymous at 4-May-05 14:10
sussAnonymous4-May-05 14:10 
GeneralRe: How to enable XP style in MFC dll Pin
marijan_s at 3-Aug-07 11:43
membermarijan_s3-Aug-07 11:43 
GeneralWin 2000 Pin
olis at 23-Sep-03 4:14
memberolis23-Sep-03 4:14 
GeneralRe: Win 2000 Pin
Kluch at 24-Sep-03 17:55
memberKluch24-Sep-03 17:55 
Generalpassword character Pin
Anonymous at 17-Sep-03 10:16
sussAnonymous17-Sep-03 10:16 
GeneralRe: password character Pin
Kluch at 20-Sep-03 11:38
memberKluch20-Sep-03 11:38 
GeneralRe: password character Pin
jutapy at 22-Sep-03 21:56
sussjutapy22-Sep-03 21:56 
GeneralRe: password character Pin
Ken Keray at 22-Sep-03 22:35
memberKen Keray22-Sep-03 22:35 

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