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Posted 17 Dec 2008

Move controls on a form at runtime

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Move controls on a form at runtime by just using a helper class and one line of code.


In some cases, it is handy to move controls on a form around by using your mouse. In this project, there is a helper class which does all the stuff needed to do this. Not only can a control be moved, but also its container.

Only one line of code is used to make a control movable (not ugly drag and drop):


Really? Yes!!


This code uses anonymous delegates to do the hard work. One advantage of this is that the helper class ControlMover has only static methods.

using System;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Windows.Forms;

namespace Helper
  class ControlMover
    public enum Direction

    public static void Init(Control control)
      Init(control, Direction.Any);

    public static void Init(Control control, Direction direction)
      Init(control, control, direction);

    public static void Init(Control control, Control container, Direction direction)
      bool Dragging = false;
      Point DragStart = Point.Empty;
      control.MouseDown += delegate(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
        Dragging = true;
        DragStart = new Point(e.X, e.Y);
        control.Capture = true;
      control.MouseUp += delegate(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
        Dragging = false;
        control.Capture = false;
      control.MouseMove += delegate(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)
        if (Dragging)
          if (direction != Direction.Vertical)
            container.Left = Math.Max(0, e.X + container.Left - DragStart.X);
          if (direction != Direction.Horizontal)
            container.Top = Math.Max(0, e.Y + container.Top - DragStart.Y);

Using the Code

An example how to use this code is presented in the project source file. All controls can be moved by a mouse. Also, a simple splitter using a toolbar is presented. Another panel containing a toolbar can be moved by using its toolbar.

using System;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Windows.Forms;

namespace MoveYourControls
  public partial class Form1 : Form
    public Form1()

      // Make your controls movable by a mouseclick

      // Move a panel by its toolstrip
      Helper.ControlMover.Init(this.toolStrip2, this.panel3, 

      // Make a splitter from toolstrip
      Helper.ControlMover.Init(this.toolStrip1, Helper.ControlMover.Direction.Vertical);
      this.toolStrip1.LocationChanged += delegate(object sender, EventArgs e)
        this.panel1.Height = this.toolStrip1.Top;

The Form after moving all the controls around.

Points of Interest

Sometimes, a control may only be moved in one direction. This is true for splitters and stuff. The helper class has a direction enumerator which makes things really easy:

Helper.ControlMover.Init(this.button2, Helper.ControlMover.Direction.Any);
Helper.ControlMover.Init(this.button3, Helper.ControlMover.Direction.Horizontal);
Helper.ControlMover.Init(this.button4, Helper.ControlMover.Direction.Vertical);

Have fun!!


As of publication, version is presented.


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


About the Author

Alphons van der Heijden
Retired Van der Heijden Holding BV
Netherlands Netherlands
I'm Alphons van der Heijden, living in Lelystad, Netherlands, Europa, Earth. And currently I'm retiring from hard working ( ;- ), owning my own company. Because I'm full of energy, and a little to young to relax ...., I don't sit down, but create and recreate software solutions, that I like. Reinventing the wheel is my second nature. My interest is in the area of Internet technologies, .NET etc. I was there in 1992 when Mosaic came out, and from that point, my life changed dramatically, and so did the world, in fact. (Y)

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Comments and Discussions showing error on this code. Pin
Vinod Kc29-Nov-16 7:27
memberVinod Kc29-Nov-16 7:27 
Questionis there a c++ version of this? Pin
Member 118943408-Dec-15 5:46
memberMember 118943408-Dec-15 5:46 
Questionselect Multiple controls Pin
sameertm27-Aug-15 21:09
membersameertm27-Aug-15 21:09 
QuestionThanks. Pin
Member 1184133515-Jul-15 23:25
memberMember 1184133515-Jul-15 23:25 
QuestionI want to make the movable item: Menustrip, to dock automatically to a side, when moving it Pin
Member 1165490711-Jun-15 23:43
memberMember 1165490711-Jun-15 23:43 
QuestionDragging onto different panels? Pin
chriswarr676712-Apr-15 13:50
memberchriswarr676712-Apr-15 13:50 
Questionthank you Pin
Member 1063275217-Feb-15 0:51
memberMember 1063275217-Feb-15 0:51 
QuestionGreat .. until you drag into the scroll zone Pin
simonB201022-Dec-14 8:43
membersimonB201022-Dec-14 8:43 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
swatipujari258-Nov-14 1:24
memberswatipujari258-Nov-14 1:24 
Questionadding a button Pin
Member 1088634415-Jun-14 18:45
memberMember 1088634415-Jun-14 18:45 
AnswerRe: adding a button Pin
Alphons van der Heijden8-Nov-14 11:28
professionalAlphons van der Heijden8-Nov-14 11:28 
GeneralPerfect my friend!! What I needed! Pin
Angelos_Alexopoulos13-Jun-14 2:23
memberAngelos_Alexopoulos13-Jun-14 2:23 
Suggestionnew article on base of your article Pin
zomorrod.company8-Feb-14 23:26
professionalzomorrod.company8-Feb-14 23:26 
GeneralThe Best Pin
spaceman8129-Jan-14 7:19
memberspaceman8129-Jan-14 7:19 
GeneralRe: The Best Pin
Alphons van der Heijden29-May-14 22:23
professionalAlphons van der Heijden29-May-14 22:23 
QuestionAdd arrow keys Pin
t_nedelchev8-Oct-13 21:48
membert_nedelchev8-Oct-13 21:48 
AnswerRe: Add arrow keys Pin
Alphons van der Heijden9-Oct-13 6:31
memberAlphons van der Heijden9-Oct-13 6:31 
GeneralRe: Add arrow keys Pin
t_nedelchev9-Oct-13 20:35
membert_nedelchev9-Oct-13 20:35 
GeneralRe: Add arrow keys Pin
spaceman8129-Jan-14 7:13
memberspaceman8129-Jan-14 7:13 
GeneralRe: Add arrow keys Pin
Alphons van der Heijden29-May-14 22:23
professionalAlphons van der Heijden29-May-14 22:23 
QuestionMoving the control in Java Pin
SharmaShruthi28-Aug-13 1:22
memberSharmaShruthi28-Aug-13 1:22 
AnswerRe: Moving the control in Java Pin
Alphons van der Heijden30-Aug-13 2:25
memberAlphons van der Heijden30-Aug-13 2:25 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Member 1021971719-Aug-13 20:51
memberMember 1021971719-Aug-13 20:51 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Alphons van der Heijden30-Aug-13 2:25
memberAlphons van der Heijden30-Aug-13 2:25 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Jayanta Chatterjee19-Aug-13 4:57
memberJayanta Chatterjee19-Aug-13 4:57 

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