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Posted 2 Nov 2003
Licenced CPOL

Go to sleep! Fade to B/W

, 3 Feb 2014
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Fading a window from color to black and white like Windows/XP


Did you ever notice that when you shutdown Windows/XP there is a fading effect from color to B/W on the desktop? Ok that's the objective of this article, a simple way to capture a given window and fade it in an inactive status.

The main idea to perform this operation is quite simple: the code basically creates a fading-window over the target one. This fading-window has all the needing to make this simple animation and the complete implementation is not long and it's based on 3 parts:

  • a snap-shot routine to copy the given window in an in-memory bitmap,
  • a function to decolorize the given bitmap,
  • the main loop to step the decolorizing.

Notice: this code will work only on 16, 24 or 32 bit display color mode.

Using the code

There are basically 2 modalities to perform the fading process: automatic and controlled.

Automatic - this is the simplest way, and it can be used to put the given window in a "relaxed" mode - when the user will click on the given window, this will return to it's original status - here the simple steps to start with this operation:

  1. add the FadeWnd.h and FadeWnd.cpp, to your project,
  2. include the FadeWnd.h in the implementation code (.cpp) where you will call the fading effect,
  3. simply call the CFadeWnd::AutoFade(CWnd* pWnd) on the window you want to fade.

Controlled - don't worry, this is quite easy too, the difference is that we want to control the moment the fading effect must finish. For this, I have assumed that the fading operation must simply be done before a modal window call - here the steps:

  1. as before, add the FadeWnd.h and FadeWnd.cpp, to your project,
  2. include the FadeWnd.h in the implementation code (.cpp) where you will call the fading effect,
  3. define a CFadeWnd object before a dialog or a message-box modal call, for sample: wndFade,
  4. create the fade window, passing as parent the window to fade as shown: wndFade.Create(this).


Let's code!

Remember, first at all, add the FadeWnd.h and FadeWnd.cpp, to your project. To do this, copy these 2 files in the folder of your project, and from the [Project] menu item of the Visual Studio, choose [Add to Project] -> [Files] voice. Select the 2.

Next step, include the FadeWnd.h in the implementation code (.cpp) where you will call the fading effect. If you want to use the CFadeWnd class a bit every where, you can include it in the stdafx.h.

#include "FadeWnd.h"

To use it in a simple way, you can perform the call:

void CMakeInactiveDlg::OnButton1() 

Fade all the desktop:

void CMakeInactiveDlg::OnButton2() 

Fade the given window for the necessary modal sub-window call:

void CMakeInactiveDlg::OnButton3() 
    CFadeWnd wndFade(this);
    // modal window call as a DIALOG or a MESSAGEBOX
        _T("Disabled until this message will be closed"),

Fade using a different gradient color:

void CMakeInactiveDlg::OnButton4() 
        this,                // window to fade
        RGB(255,128, 64),    // light color ref
        RGB( 64, 16,  0));   // dark color ref
// - or -
void CMakeInactiveDlg::OnButton5() 
    CFadeWnd wndFade(
        this,                // window to fade
        RGB(255,128, 64),    // light color ref
        RGB( 64, 16,  0));   // dark color ref
    // modal window call as a DIALOG or a MESSAGEBOX
        _T("Disabled until this message will be closed"),


To permit other programmers to change the behavior of this control, I have added 3 virtual members that can be easily overridden:

  • void CreateGradient(...) - this allow to try other fading algorithms
  • bool OnLButtonCheck() - this is needed to make security checks directly inside the CFadeWnd during left button mouse clicks
  • bool OnRButtonCheck() - same as above, but for right button mouse clicks

Play with the CreateGradient call

I have made virtual the CreateGradien member of the CFadeWnd. This will allow some programmers to play with this call deriving a new class from the CFadeWnd. Let's see a sample of this process.

Create your derived class, for sample:

class CMyGradientFadeWnd : public CFadeWnd
    virtual void CreateGradient(
        COLORREF /* clrLight = RGB(255,255,255) */,  // parameters are not 
                                                     // used in this sample
        COLORREF /* clrDark  = RGB(  0,  0,  0) */)
        for(int i=0; i<256; i++)


            m_clrGradient[i] = RGB(i, 255-i, i);




Now you have only to use your CMyGradiendFadeWnd in substitution of the CFadeWnd in your application.

Intercepting the left and right mouse button clicks inside the CFadeWnd class using OnLButtonCheck and OnRButtonCheck calls

Of course, this could be done deriving the whole class with CLASSWIZARD, and for more skilled developers, I'll suggest to do it that way - but to allow fast and easy way to inject our own made dialogs directly in the CFadeWnd, I have made the 2 overridden calls.

As for the CreateGradiend saw before, create your derived class, for sample:

class CMyPasswordFadeWnd : public CFadeWnd
    virtual bool OnLButtonCheck()
        // add the password check here
        CPasswordDlg dlg; // make your own dialog
        return (dlg.DoModal() == IDOK);
    virtual bool OnRButtonCheck() { return false; } // no response

Credits - Special thanks to

Credits are reported inside the source code. The major help come from these articles/posts:


  • 10 November 2003 - bug fixes and some new things from the message posts:
    • virtual CreateGradient(...) call to perform a different graying effect
    • virtual OnLButtonChek() and OnRButtonChek() to perform a mouse click security check inside the CFadeWnd class
    • timing calculation to make the fading effect fit in less than 2 seconds
    • region heredity for shaped windows (example skinned windows)
    • disabled the parent window during the fade process, and eliminated the icon on the task-bar 


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


About the Author

Chief Technology Officer
Italy Italy
Gained experience working with several private companies, both production and services kind of farms, especially in managerial, as a trainer and marketing/sales as considerable experience in project management.

Completed technical/scientific expertise with several companies and universities working on software engineering, industrial automation and production at various levels, producing CAD for textiles (in the press and yarn, both for design applications and treatment of color and digital printing), incorporation of the farm, factory automation (textiles, plastics, luxury mechanics and dyes) to complete the design of ERP systems (accounting, analytical, warehouse, quality systems, quality control, planning, ...).

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionCreate Window Error 0x00000579 Pin
Erhy4-Jan-15 12:15
memberErhy4-Jan-15 12:15 
AnswerRe: Create Window Error 0x00000579 Pin
andyj1152-Feb-15 9:20
memberandyj1152-Feb-15 9:20 
Bugsome problems on multi display environment Pin
babosamdol16-Sep-14 16:45
memberbabosamdol16-Sep-14 16:45 
QuestionUpdated for VB.Net or C#? Pin
Tim8w19-Jun-08 13:47
memberTim8w19-Jun-08 13:47 
AnswerRe: Updated for VB.Net or C#? Pin
andyj11523-Jun-08 22:22
memberandyj11523-Jun-08 22:22 
AnswerRe: Updated for VB.Net or C#? Pin
shenjian7-Feb-10 5:44
membershenjian7-Feb-10 5:44 
GeneralRe: Updated for VB.Net or C#? Pin
yjvujj30-Sep-11 9:05
memberyjvujj30-Sep-11 9:05 
QuestionGreat code but how can I do this? Pin
Anonymous5-Oct-04 12:50
memberAnonymous5-Oct-04 12:50 
QuestionIs there a Way to set XP generally to B/W ? Pin
e-t-c27-Sep-04 0:01
membere-t-c27-Sep-04 0:01 
GeneralLeaving a window Pin
Anonymous20-Jun-04 5:29
memberAnonymous20-Jun-04 5:29 
GeneralC# Pin
Harsmaken18-May-04 9:20
memberHarsmaken18-May-04 9:20 
GeneralPreventing a WM_CLOSE message for CFadeWnd (e.g. Alt+F4) + fix Pin
Valentin Mocanu18-Mar-04 3:27
memberValentin Mocanu18-Mar-04 3:27 
GeneralCool Pin
alex.barylski14-Feb-04 14:33
memberalex.barylski14-Feb-04 14:33 
QuestionFading non-rectangular dialogs? Pin
t00lb0x_t00lb0x25-Jan-04 5:01
membert00lb0x_t00lb0x25-Jan-04 5:01 
AnswerRe: Fading non-rectangular dialogs? Pin
andyj11530-Jan-04 0:48
memberandyj11530-Jan-04 0:48 
GeneralSmall bug and fix Pin
Andrew122-Dec-03 3:03
memberAndrew122-Dec-03 3:03 
QuestionFading like in WinXP? Pin
Member 30008718-Dec-03 12:04
memberMember 30008718-Dec-03 12:04 
AnswerRe: Fading like in WinXP? Pin
andyj11530-Jan-04 0:43
memberandyj11530-Jan-04 0:43 
GeneralKeep updating Pin
Major Major20-Nov-03 2:48
memberMajor Major20-Nov-03 2:48 
GeneralRe: Keep updating Pin
andyj11520-Nov-03 23:49
memberandyj11520-Nov-03 23:49 
GeneralRe: Keep updating Pin
Major Major24-Nov-03 3:36
memberMajor Major24-Nov-03 3:36 
GeneralThats Great Pin
Balkrishna Talele19-Nov-03 21:07
memberBalkrishna Talele19-Nov-03 21:07 
GeneralWow! Pin
machocr13-Nov-03 7:29
membermachocr13-Nov-03 7:29 
GeneralRe: Wow! Pin
andyj11517-Nov-03 0:14
memberandyj11517-Nov-03 0:14 
GeneralGreat code! one minor thing.. Pin
12-Nov-03 21:20
suss12-Nov-03 21:20 

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