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Posted 9 Jun 2009

Implement Accelerators in a Dialog-Based Application

, 4 Jul 2012 CPOL
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Getting accelerators to work in a dialog box.

One of the options you have when creating an MFC application is to make your application dialog-based. This is one of the options in the MFC Wizards.

Dialog-based applications are simply applications where the main window is a dialog box. Applications that need to display a bunch of controls in the main window are considerably easier to implement as dialog-based applications.

In addition, you can also add a menu to your dialog box, which can complete a sophisticated dialog-based application. A menu can be added by simple choosing the menu resource ID in the Properties window for the dialog box. But if your menu has accelerators (hotkeys), you’ll notice that they don’t work. In this article, I’ll describe getting accelerators to work in a dialog box.

The discussion below assumes you have created a dialog box with a menu, that you’ve also created an accelerator resource with hotkeys for one or more commands in your dialog box menu, and that you’ve defined handlers for those commands.

In your main application class (not the dialog box class), define the following member variable:

HACCEL m_hAccelTable;
Listing 1: Add variable to main application class.

Next, initialize this variable in your main application class’s InitInstance() method. You may want to initialize it after the basic MFC initialization code, but be sure to initialize it before the main dialog box is displayed. Again, this is in your main application class and not in your dialog box class.

BOOL CMyApp::InitInstance()
 // ...

 m_hAccelTable = LoadAccelerators(AfxGetInstanceHandle(),

 // ...
Listing 2: Initialize variable in InitInstance().

Note that this code assumes the ID of your accelerator is IDR_ACCELERATOR1. You’ll need to change it if you are using a different resource ID.

Next, override ProcessMessageFilter in your main application class. Again, this is in your main application class and not in your dialog box class.

BOOL CMyApp::ProcessMessageFilter(int code, LPMSG lpMsg)
 if (code >= 0 && m_pMainWnd && m_hAccelTable)
   if (::TranslateAccelerator(m_pMainWnd->m_hWnd, m_hAccelTable, lpMsg))
      return TRUE;
  return CWinApp::ProcessMessageFilter(code, lpMsg);
Listing 3: Override ProcessMessageFilter().

And that’s all there is to it. Assuming you have the menu and accelerator resources implemented and associated with your dialog box, and you have handlers for the commands, the accelerators should now work.

I’m not sure why this change is even necessary and couldn’t easily find out. At first glance, it sure seems like this trivial amount of code should be implemented in the base MFC classes. But this approach is simple, and should work for any dialog box in your application (that includes a menu and accelerator resource).


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


About the Author

Jonathan Wood
Black Belt Coder
United States United States
Jonathan Wood has been a software developer for more years than he cares to admit. His current focus is on using C# and ASP.NET MVC to develop website applications, and C++ and MFC to develop desktop applications. His consulting company, SoftCircuits, is known for producing various commercial and shareware products.

Having an entrepreneurial spirit, Jonathan also has a number of other online businesses that he built from scratch such as Black Belt Coder, Trail Calendar and others. He also has expertise in designing brands (including graphics and logos) and search-engine optimization (SEO).

Jonathan is always willing to discuss consulting work or joint ventures with people looking to develop software or online businesses.

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