Click here to Skip to main content
15,354,956 members
Articles / Desktop Programming / MFC
Posted 28 Aug 2005


45 bookmarked

Let Your ListCtrl Adjust its Column Widths Automatically

Rate me:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
4.50/5 (14 votes)
28 Aug 2005CPOL2 min read
Here you have a CListCtrl derived class that can dynamically adjust the widths of its columns so that all the items as well as their headers are always visible.
Sample Image - AutosizeListCtrl.jpg


While creating a List Control using CListCtrl class, we need to specify the column width for all the columns in the very beginning, when we have little idea about the width required by the actual text that is going to come in the columns. So we leave it to the user to adjust the widths to see the entire text. This little enhancement over the CListCtrl class makes the column widths auto adjusting to keep the entire text of all the columns visible.

Make a new Dialog based application with MFC AppWizard (EXE). Then add a new class to it (Insert -> New Class). Give any fancy name you wish (I chose CMyListCtrl) and in the base class dropdown, select CListCtrl. After clicking OK, you have a CListCtrl derived class. Now add the following two public functions to this class:

// put this into the header file, in the public:section
void AdjustColumnWidth();
int GetColumnCount();
// and this into the cpp file, in the public: section
void CMyListCtrl::AdjustColumnWidth()
          int nColumnCount = GetColumnCount();

          for (int i = 0; i < nColumnCount; i++)
                   SetColumnWidth(i, LVSCW_AUTOSIZE);
                   int nColumnWidth = GetColumnWidth(i);
                   SetColumnWidth(i, LVSCW_AUTOSIZE_USEHEADER);
                   int nHeaderWidth = GetColumnWidth(i); 
                   SetColumnWidth(i, max(nColumnWidth, nHeaderWidth));
int CMyListCtrl::GetColumnCount()
          CHeaderCtrl* pHeaderCtrl = GetHeaderCtrl();
          return (pHeaderCtrl->GetItemCount());

As we can see, this function calculates the widths of the Column Headers as well as the Items and sets the width to the larger of the two, so that the complete header is visible even if no item is inserted. Also note that the last column will take all the remaining space.

To use our newly created class, first add a List Control to your dialog box (be sure to select 'Report' in the Styles page of the properties for the new control). Now, add a control variable for the newly created item (IDC_LIST1, or whatever ID you supplied) in the Member Variables page of the MFC Class Wizard (ctrl+W), but instead of accepting the default CListCtrl as the Variable type, select the new CMyListCtrl type. Call the variable m_myList. The wizard will suggest you to include the header file of your ListCtrl class in the dialog class. Do this by adding this line in the header file of your dialog class:

#include <MyListCtrl.h>

After this, let’s insert some columns and rows to this ListCtrl. Add the following lines at the end of OnInitDialog() of your dialog class (or wherever you need):

m_myList.InsertColumn(0, _T("First column, which is very long"));
m_myList.InsertColumn(1, _T("2nd column"));
m_myList.InsertColumn(2, _T("Third column"));
m_myList.InsertColumn(3, _T("Forth column"));    

m_myList.InsertItem(0, _T("Item 1"));
m_myList.InsertItem(1, _T("Item 2"));
m_myList.InsertItem(2, _T("Item 3"));    

m_myList.SetItemText(0, 1, _T("This text is long."));
m_myList.SetItemText(0, 3, _T("This text is even longer."));
m_myList.SetItemText(1, 1, _T("Small text."));
m_myList.SetItemText(2, 3, _T("Some text here."));

If it feels a little too involved to add the rows in a List Control, you can refer to this article for a simpler way. Now, call the function AdjustColumnWidth() after inserting all rows.


The call to this function makes sure all items and their headers are visible. You can play around with this example by putting different strings in the columns.



  • 29th August, 2005: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Team Leader CDC Software
India India
Currently living in Balgalore, the IT capital of India and working with a CRM product company.

Recently started writing articles as a part of the efforts to utilize free time doing more useful things (other that reading comics and playing NFS, of course).

I have a beautiful wife and a wonderful kid who always makes sure that I don't get much of free time in the first place.

I Enjoy what I call the four P's:
- Painting,
- Poetry writing,
- Photography, and
- Palmistry
besides my work (which incidentally, is another P: Programming)

For other creative junk written by me, please visit my blog.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Argonia1-Oct-14 4:17
professionalArgonia1-Oct-14 4:17 
Questionissue with first column not autosizing correctly? Pin
ReturnVoid17-Mar-14 22:07
MemberReturnVoid17-Mar-14 22:07 
AnswerRe: issue with first column not autosizing correctly? Pin
PravinSingh5-Mar-15 9:44
MemberPravinSingh5-Mar-15 9:44 
QuestionWhat about when the parent dialog is sized? Pin
mark-w24-Apr-07 18:29
Membermark-w24-Apr-07 18:29 
GeneralSimple,but good! Pin
xiao_e_from_china_willfar10-Sep-06 5:12
Memberxiao_e_from_china_willfar10-Sep-06 5:12 
GeneralNice! Pin
ChrisRibe21-Mar-06 4:23
MemberChrisRibe21-Mar-06 4:23 
GeneralAnother Solution Pin
Dandy Cheung30-Aug-05 23:43
MemberDandy Cheung30-Aug-05 23:43 
GeneralRe: Another Solution Pin
Ali Rafiee12-Apr-07 10:37
MemberAli Rafiee12-Apr-07 10:37 

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

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