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Posted 9 Jun 2007

Drop images from IE

, 9 Jun 2007
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Capturing the URL of an image dropped on your form from IE


In a recent project I found the need to be able to drop an image from Internet Explorer onto my form and capture the URL of the image. If you have tried using any of the text formats to get the drop data then you know this does not work. At best you will get the locally cached path of the image file. There is little or no documentation on the subject, and attempting to search for information only yields others seeking the same answers. This is why I decided to make this an article. Note that this code makes use of regular expressions. As this is not an article about regex's, which is a huge topic in itself, I provide no explanation of the expressions used. You can easily find numerous tutorials on Regular Expressions.


The key to reading the source URL of the image is in the data type. Through much trial and error, I found that the magic words are "HTML Format", as you will see below.

Using the code

Simply place the appropriate code below into your DragEnter and DragDrop events, add the required functions and that's all.

The DragEnter event would look as such:

private void myControl_DragEnter(object sender, DragEventArgs e)
  if (e.Data.GetDataPresent("HTML Format"))
    e.Effect = DragDropEffects.Copy;

To actually capture the URL, place the following in the DragDrop event:

private void myControl_DragDrop(object sender, DragEventArgs e)
  string clipboardHtml = (string)e.Data.GetData("HTML Format");
  string htmlFragment = getHtmlFragment(clipboardHtml);
  string imageSrc = parseImageSrc(htmlFragment);
  string baseURL = parseBaseURL(clipboardHtml);

  if (imageSrc.ToUpper().IndexOf("HTTP://") == 0)
    MessageBox.Show(baseURL + imageSrc.Substring(1));

We need the if statement in the above because the base URL may or may not be included in the image tag.

There are three supporting functions:

  • getHtmlFragment: Retrieves the complete image tag, including width, alt text, etc.
  • parseImageSrc: Retrieves the path of the image itself. The path is only relative so the next function is needed still.
  • parseBaseURL: Retrieves the base URL as the name implies.

string getHtmlFragment(string clipboardHtml)
  int fragStartPos = int.Parse(Regex.Match(clipboardHtml, 
    @"^StartFragment:(\d+)", RegexOptions.Multiline).Groups[1].Value);
  int fragEndPos = int.Parse(Regex.Match(clipboardHtml, 
    @"^EndFragment:(\d+)", RegexOptions.Multiline).Groups[1].Value);
  return clipboardHtml.Substring(fragStartPos, fragEndPos - fragStartPos);

string parseImageSrc(string html)
  return Regex.Match(html, @"<img.*?src=[""'](.*?)[""'].*>", 
    RegexOptions.IgnoreCase | RegexOptions.Singleline).Groups[1].Value;

string parseBaseURL(string html)
  return Regex.Match(html, @http://.*?/, 

Points of Interest

Check out the demo project to see it in action.


  • Original posting - June 10, 2007


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

Jim Weiler
Software Developer
United States United States
No Biography provided

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionGreat job! But sometimes won't work. Pin
ls2514520-Nov-13 16:42
memberls2514520-Nov-13 16:42 
GeneralIf you liked the article please vote! Pin
@Jim10-Jun-07 7:44
member@Jim10-Jun-07 7:44 


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