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Posted 12 Aug 2004


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How to make a Message Only Window

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12 Aug 20042 min read
An article on how to make a message only window.


An article on making a message only window class and why this is a useful thing to do.


According to Microsoft:

A message-only window enables you to send and receive messages. It is not visible, has no z-order, cannot be enumerated, and does not receive broadcast messages. The window simply dispatches messages.

Simpler: You can send messages (PostMessage and SendMessage) to it. If you have a class which is derived from it, you can have it reacting to messages from other areas of code in a similar fashion to a normal window.

Benefits of using a message only window

  • Free queue for messages.

    What do you mean?

    If your system is message based from some sort of external IO say, and you are in need of a queuing facility, then your application can use PostMessage to post messages to the hidden window. These messages will be queued in the normal Windows message queue.

  • Inter/intra process communication

    What do you mean?

    Another part of your application (or an external application) can handle the arrival of these messages.

How do I make one?

It is pretty easy actually.

In the class that is to deal with the messages, follow this procedure:

  1. Make it inherit from CWnd, even if it means you multiply inherit.
    class CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass : public CWnd
  2. In the constructor or some other useful initialization type function, use the following code (change where needed).
    CString wnd_class_name = ::AfxRegisterWndClass(NULL);
    BOOL created = this->CreateEx(0,wnd_class_name, 
        "CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass",0 ,0 ,0 ,0 ,0 ,HWND_MESSAGE,0);
  3. Either register your own Windows message:
  4. Or use something easier like:
    const UINT MY__MESSAGE = WM_USER+14;
  5. Create your message handling function in your .h and .cpp files.

    .h first

    afx_msg LRESULT DealWithMyRegisteredMsg(WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam);


    afx_msg LRESULT DealWithMyMsg(WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam);

    Now, the cpp file

    LRESULT CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass::DealWithMyRegisteredMsg(WPARAM wParam, 
                                                                LPARAM lParam)
         AfxMessageBox("Chris is ready for a beer"); 
         return LRESULT(true); 


    LRESULT CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass::DealWithMyMsg(WPARAM wParam, 
                                                          LPARAM lParam)
         AfxMessageBox("Chris is ready for a beer"); 
         return LRESULT(true); 
  6. Add the message map:
    BEGIN_MESSAGE_MAP(CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass, CWnd) 
         // or ON_MESSAGE(BLAH_MESSAGE,DealWithMyRegisteredMsg)
  7. Now, go back to your .h file, and at the very end of your class - after all the functions and variables and so on (but before the “};”), – stick:


    This says “I will be using a message map in my class” (well, we have just defined it).

  8. Now, when you want to post to this window, all you need is the handle to it…or a pointer to it, and you will find it should behave just like a normal window, only you can’t see it etc.

What else do I need to know?

  1. FindWindow: If you want to use FindWindow, you need to pay attention to the MSDN which says… "To find message-only windows, specify HWND_MESSAGE in the hwndParent parameter of the FindWindowEx function. In addition, FindWindowEx searches message-only windows as well as top-level windows if both the hwndParent and hwndChildAfter parameters are NULL."
  2. Multiple Inheritance: When multiply inheriting, the CWnd needs to come first, for example;
    class CMyMessageOnlyWindowClass : public CWnd, public COtherClass
  3. That's about it, remember: you can't view (see) this window!


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About the Author

Software Developer (Senior) TMR
Australia Australia
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 3 Pin
Jim Fell5-Nov-10 10:38
MemberJim Fell5-Nov-10 10:38 
GeneralRe: My vote of 3 Pin
Ultran Messiski16-Jul-20 6:47
MemberUltran Messiski16-Jul-20 6:47 
GeneralUse "message" as window class up from Win2000 Pin
owmarr24-Nov-09 10:55
Memberowmarr24-Nov-09 10:55 
GeneralRe: Use "message" as window class up from Win2000 Pin
John Gonzalez25-Nov-09 9:25
MemberJohn Gonzalez25-Nov-09 9:25 
GeneralRe: Use "message" as window class up from Win2000 Pin
owmarr25-Nov-09 9:43
Memberowmarr25-Nov-09 9:43 
GeneralAn ActiveX control Pin
AlexEvans11-Jan-06 16:29
MemberAlexEvans11-Jan-06 16:29 
Generalnon-MFC Message-Only window Pin
DanLedford9-Dec-05 6:38
MemberDanLedford9-Dec-05 6:38 
Generalhello is it possible to check the ready state of the normal window and other applications Pin
1lokii28-Dec-04 18:59
Member1lokii28-Dec-04 18:59 
GeneralAbout Destruction of Message Only Windows Pin
Victor Ochoa3-Sep-04 9:44
MemberVictor Ochoa3-Sep-04 9:44 
GeneralRe: About Destruction of Message Only Windows Pin
bryce3-Sep-04 14:29
Memberbryce3-Sep-04 14:29 
GeneralRe: About Destruction of Message Only Windows Pin
Victor Ochoa4-Sep-04 8:40
MemberVictor Ochoa4-Sep-04 8:40 
QuestionSubliminal message? Pin
Chris Maunder30-Aug-04 3:27
cofounderChris Maunder30-Aug-04 3:27 
GeneralYou forgot to mention WINVER Pin
Nathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 12:31
MemberNathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 12:31 
GeneralRe: You forgot to mention WINVER Pin
bryce18-Aug-04 13:06
Memberbryce18-Aug-04 13:06 
GeneralRe: You forgot to mention WINVER (apology) Pin
Nathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 13:47
MemberNathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 13:47 
GeneralWM_USER Query Pin
Tomas Brennan14-Aug-04 2:06
MemberTomas Brennan14-Aug-04 2:06 
GeneralRe: WM_USER Query Pin
Ravi Bhavnani14-Aug-04 5:58
professionalRavi Bhavnani14-Aug-04 5:58 
GeneralRe: WM_USER Query Pin
Nathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 4:50
MemberNathan Holt at EMOM18-Aug-04 4:50 
Generalquestion Pin
Todd Smith13-Aug-04 7:44
MemberTodd Smith13-Aug-04 7:44 
GeneralNice! Pin
Ravi Bhavnani13-Aug-04 3:01
professionalRavi Bhavnani13-Aug-04 3:01 

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