Click here to Skip to main content
Click here to Skip to main content

Hosting EXE Applications in a WinForm project

, 21 Dec 2004
Rate this:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
A custom control to launch and embed an EXE into a WinForm based application.

Sample Image


Though not a common task, recently I needed to take an existing executable application and embed it into an application I was building. Oddly enough, I did not need any interaction between my application and the existing EXE. As it ends up, this is not a difficult thing to do. To make it even easier, I created a custom C# control that allows you to specify the name of an executable you want embedded into your application. The control takes care of all the rest.

How does it work

In design time, the user can specify the name of the executable to embed. When the control is created in runtime, it launches the application as follows:

Process p = null; 
  // Start the process 
  p = System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(this.exeName); 

  // Wait for process to be created and enter idle condition 

  // Get the main handle
  appWin = p.MainWindowHandle; 
catch (Exception ex) 
  MessageBox.Show(this, ex.Message, "Error"); 

After launching, the code must then set the parent of the executable's main window to the control handle. It does this as follows:

// Put it into this form
SetParent(appWin, this.Handle);

// Remove border and whatnot
SetWindowLong(appWin, GWL_STYLE, WS_VISIBLE);

// Move the window to overlay it on this window
MoveWindow(appWin, 0, 0, this.Width, this.Height, true);

Any time the control is resized, it must also resize the executable window. To do so, it does this in the Resize function:

protected override void OnResize(EventArgs e)
  if (this.appWin != IntPtr.Zero)
    MoveWindow(appWin, 0, 0, this.Width, this.Height, true);
  base.OnResize (e);

Lastly, when the control is destroyed, it should shut down the executable. To do so, it does the following:

protected override void OnHandleDestroyed(EventArgs e)
  // Stop the application
  if (appWin != IntPtr.Zero)

    // Post a colse message
    PostMessage(appWin, WM_CLOSE, 0, 0);

    // Delay for it to get the message

    // Clear internal handle
    appWin = IntPtr.Zero;


  base.OnHandleDestroyed (e);


  • 12-20-2004: Released.


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

Jay Nelson
Web Developer
United States United States
I have been developing software professionaly since 1991 writing software in Automation and Manufacturing environments. For 14 years I worked for companies that built custom robotic automated equipment for the semiconductor, telecommunications, and other industies. Presently, I work for a medical device manufacturer developing applications for the compact framework.
My undergraduate degrees are in Mathematics and Philosopy. My graduate degree is in Management Information Systems. I am MCSD certified in Visual C++ 6.0 and MCSD.NET certified in C#.
I enjoy triathlons and reading.

Comments and Discussions

QuestionEmbed same application Pinmembertieugiang9422-Mar-14 7:26 
Questiondisabling title bar/borders PinmemberCatronia17-Mar-14 2:54 
Questioncant download PinmemberMember 1059546813-Feb-14 15:44 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberMember 475388716-Jan-14 4:29 
Questionhow can i host a C# application (exe file) in a win form in this project? Pinmembermehrdad heidari24-Aug-13 11:06 
GeneralFor those who can't get it working for any application other than notepad PinmemberChristopher Sippel9-Apr-13 8:33 
Questiontoopstrip disabled PinmemberMember 902164118-Feb-13 0:27 
AnswerRe: toopstrip disabled Pinmemberbryonmvi16-Sep-14 8:46 
Questionwindows 7 problem PinmemberMember 930102825-Jul-12 13:26 
AnswerRe: windows 7 problem PinmemberRaRi200323-Nov-12 3:46 
AnswerRe: windows 7 problem PinmemberMember 103874327-Nov-13 13:27 
QuestionHosting External Exe Application in a WPF Window. [modified] Pinmembersukesh.gudikandulla27-May-12 7:35 
QuestionIt doesn't work in window 7 Pinmemberdhojonline3-Apr-12 3:44 
AnswerRe: It doesn't work in window 7 Pinmemberk3v1n5215-May-12 3:19 
GeneralRe: It doesn't work in window 7 PinmemberMember 899490321-May-12 4:40 
QuestionHow to stop exe flashing up or appearing in taskbar PinmemberJamesA_Dev26-Jan-12 2:24 
QuestionMenus are disabled Pinmemberdelfo8-Aug-11 23:07 
AnswerRe: Menus are disabled Pinmemberbryonmvi16-Sep-14 8:47 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmemberyanghe11173-May-11 5:16 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberYusuf18-Jan-11 10:35 
QuestionAdvice needed PinmemberHollyY18-Nov-10 13:57 
GeneralWin7 and Vista Incompatable Pinmembercs_can3-Apr-10 4:28 
QuestionPowerPoint Viewer Does Not seem to work PinmemberMember 265354228-Dec-09 22:47 
GeneralAnother problem Pinmemberil172316-Nov-09 6:36 
GeneralProblem Pinmemberil172316-Nov-09 5:59 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.

| Advertise | Privacy | Terms of Use | Mobile
Web03 | 2.8.150302.1 | Last Updated 21 Dec 2004
Article Copyright 2004 by Jay Nelson
Everything else Copyright © CodeProject, 1999-2015
Layout: fixed | fluid