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Dialog Window Background Color?

Posted on 1998-11-09
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-03
I am newbie to Windows programming - so I may not be precise in my terminology.

I need to get the background color of a dialog window.  This is the same as the background color of the string 'Message Text' when you do <start/Settings/Control Panel/Display/Appearance>'.  

In other words, I am interested in the color that is returned by 'GetPixel(hWnd_dialog, 1, 1)'.  But I do not like this method, since this code may be broken if someone puts a control at position 1, 1 on the dialog box later.

If I do 'GetBkColor(hWnd_dialog)' I always get white.  
What should I be doing to get the background color of the dialog box?
Question by:seedy
  • 2
LVL 13

Accepted Solution

Mirkwood earned 440 total points
ID: 1415918
Information of the MSDN


The GetSysColor function retrieves the current color of the specified display element. Display elements are the parts of a window and the display that appear on the system display screen.

DWORD GetSysColor(
  int nIndex   // display element



Specifies the display element whose color is to be retrieved. This parameter must be one of the following values:
ValueMeaningCOLOR_3DDKSHADOWDark shadow for three-dimensional display elements.COLOR_3DFACE,
COLOR_BTNFACEFace color for three-dimensional display elements.COLOR_3DHILIGHT, COLOR_3DHIGHLIGHT, COLOR_BTNHILIGHT, COLOR_BTNHIGHLIGHTHighlight color for three-dimensional display elements (for edges facing the light source.)COLOR_3DLIGHTLight color for three-dimensional display elements (for edges facing the light source.)COLOR_3DSHADOW, COLOR_BTNSHADOWShadow color for three-dimensional display elements (for edges facing away from the light source).COLOR_ACTIVEBORDERActive window border.COLOR_ACTIVECAPTIONActive window title bar.

Windows NT 5.0 and Windows 98: Specifies the left side color in the color gradient of an active window's title bar if the gradient effect is enabled.

COLOR_APPWORKSPACEBackground color of multiple document interface (MDI) applications.COLOR_BACKGROUND, COLOR_DESKTOPDesktop.COLOR_BTNTEXTText on push buttons.COLOR_CAPTIONTEXTText in caption, size box, and scroll bar arrow box.COLOR_GRADIENTACTIVECAPTIONWindows NT 5.0 and Windows 98: Right side color in the color gradient of an active window's title bar. COLOR_ACTIVECAPTION specifies the left side color. Use SPI_GETGRADIENTCAPTIONS with the SystemParametersInfo function to determine whether the gradient effect is enabled.COLOR_GRADIENTINACTIVECAPTIONWindows NT 5.0 and Windows 98: Right side color in the color gradient of an inactive window's title bar. COLOR_INACTIVECAPTION specifies the left side color. COLOR_GRAYTEXTGrayed (disabled) text. This color is set to 0 if the current display driver does not support a solid gray color.COLOR_HIGHLIGHTItem(s) selected in a control.COLOR_HIGHLIGHTTEXTText of item(s) selected in a control.COLOR_HOTLIGHTWindows NT 5.0 and Windows 98: Color for a hot-tracked item. Single clicking a hot-tracked item executes the item.COLOR_INACTIVEBORDERInactive window border.COLOR_INACTIVECAPTIONInactive window caption.

Windows NT 5.0 and Windows 98: Specifies the left side color in the color gradient of an inactive window's title bar if the gradient effect is enabled.

COLOR_INACTIVECAPTIONTEXTColor of text in an inactive caption.COLOR_INFOBKBackground color for tooltip controls.COLOR_INFOTEXTText color for tooltip controls.COLOR_MENUMenu background.COLOR_MENUTEXTText in menus.COLOR_SCROLLBARScroll bar gray area.COLOR_WINDOWWindow background.COLOR_WINDOWFRAMEWindow frame.COLOR_WINDOWTEXTText in windows.

Return Values

The return value is the red, green, blue (RGB) color value that specifies the color of the given element.

If the function fails, the return value is zero. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.


System colors for monochrome displays are usually interpreted as shades of gray.

Windows CE: Windows CE versions 2.0 and later support the following two values for the nIndex parameter:


Background color for static controls and dialogs.


Text color for static controls.

Windows CE 1.0 only supports a 2 bit gray scale palette, so GetSysColor returns a palette index rather than an RGB value. Windows CE GDI functions that accept a COLORREF structure can use either a palette index or an RGB value. However, if the application attempts to interpret the color value, be aware of this difference.

Windows CE 2.0 supports 2 bits per pixel (2-bpp), 4 bits per pixel (4-bpp), and 8 bits per pixel (8-bpp) color devices, and can logically support 32 bits per pixel device independent bitmaps (DIBs). In Windows CE 2.0, GetSysColor returns an RGB value.


  Windows NT: Requires version 3.1 or later.
  Windows: Requires Windows 95 or later.
  Windows CE: Requires version 1.0 or later.
  Header: Declared in winuser.h.
  Import Library: Use user32.lib.

Author Comment

ID: 1415919
What should I set to nIndex?  COLOR_WINDOW?  This will only give me the window background not dialog window background.  COLOR_BACKGROUND will give me desk top background.
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 1415920
For some weird reason COLOR_BTNFACE or COLOR_3DFACE.

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