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Hooks Overview

A hook is a mechanism by which an application can intercept events, such as messages, mouse actions, and keystrokes. A function that intercepts a particular type of event is known as a hook procedure. A hook procedure can act on each event it receives, and then modify or discard the event.

The following some example uses for hooks:

  • Monitor messages for debugging purposes
  • Provide support for recording and playback of macros
  • Provide support for a help key (F1)
  • Simulate mouse and keyboard input
  • Implement a computer-based training (CBT) application

Note  Hooks tend to slow down the system because they increase the amount of processing the system must perform for each message. You should install a hook only when necessary, and remove it as soon as possible.

This section discusses the following:

Hook Chains

The system supports many different types of hooks; each type provides access to a different aspect of its message-handling mechanism. For example, an application can use the WH_MOUSE hook to monitor the message traffic for mouse messages.

The system maintains a separate hook chain for each type of hook. A hook chain is a list of pointers to special, application-defined callback functions called hook procedures. When a message occurs that is associated with a particular type of hook, the system passes the message to each hook procedure referenced in the hook chain, one after the other. The action a hook procedure can take depends on the type of hook involved. The hook procedures for some types of hooks can only monitor messages; others can modify messages or stop their progress through the chain, preventing them from reaching the next hook procedure or the destination window.

Hook Procedures

To take advantage of a particular type of hook, the developer provides a hook procedure and uses the SetWindowsHookEx function to install it into the chain associated with the hook. A hook procedure must have the following syntax:

LRESULT CALLBACK HookProc(
  int nCode, 
  WPARAM wParam, 
  LPARAM lParam
)
{
   // process event
   ...

   return CallNextHookEx(NULL, nCode, wParam, lParam);
}

HookProc is a placeholder for an application-defined name.

The nCode parameter is a hook code that the hook procedure uses to determine the action to perform. The value of the hook code depends on the type of the hook; each type has its own characteristic set of hook codes. The values of the wParam and lParam parameters depend on the hook code, but they typically contain information about a message that was sent or posted.

The SetWindowsHookEx function always installs a hook procedure at the beginning of a hook chain. When an event occurs that is monitored by a particular type of hook, the system calls the procedure at the beginning of the hook chain associated with the hook. Each hook procedure in the chain determines whether to pass the event to the next procedure. A hook procedure passes an event to the next procedure by calling the CallNextHookEx function.

Note that the hook procedures for some types of hooks can only monitor messages. the system passes messages to each hook procedure, regardless of whether a particular procedure calls CallNextHookEx.

A global hook monitors messages for all threads in the same desktop as the calling thread. A thread-specific hook monitors messages for only an individual thread. A global hook procedure can be called in the context of any application in the same desktop as the calling thread, so the procedure must be in a separate DLL module. A thread-specific hook procedure is called only in the context of the associated thread. If an application installs a hook procedure for one of its own threads, the hook procedure can be in either the same module as the rest of the application's code or in a DLL. If the application installs a hook procedure for a thread of a different application, the procedure must be in a DLL. For information, see Dynamic-Link Libraries.

Note   You should use global hooks only for debugging purposes; otherwise, you should avoid them. Global hooks hurt system performance and cause conflicts with other applications that implement the same type of global hook.

Hook Types

Each type of hook enables an application to monitor a different aspect of the system's message-handling mechanism. The following sections describe the available hooks.

WH_CALLWNDPROC and WH_CALLWNDPROCRET

The WH_CALLWNDPROC and WH_CALLWNDPROCRET hooks enable you to monitor messages sent to window procedures. The system calls a WH_CALLWNDPROC hook procedure before passing the message to the receiving window procedure, and calls the WH_CALLWNDPROCRET hook procedure after the window procedure has processed the message.

The WH_CALLWNDPROCRET hook passes a pointer to a CWPRETSTRUCT structure to the hook procedure. The structure contains the return value from the window procedure that processed the message, as well as the message parameters associated with the message. Subclassing the window does not work for messages set between processes.

For more information, see the CallWndProc and CallWndRetProc callback functions.

WH_CBT

The system calls a WH_CBT hook procedure before activating, creating, destroying, minimizing, maximizing, moving, or sizing a window; before completing a system command; before removing a mouse or keyboard event from the system message queue; before setting the input focus; or before synchronizing with the system message queue. The value the hook procedure returns determines whether the system allows or prevents one of these operations. The WH_CBT hook is intended primarily for computer-based training (CBT) applications.

For more information, see the CBTProc callback function.

For information, see WinEvents.

WH_DEBUG

The system calls a WH_DEBUG hook procedure before calling hook procedures associated with any other hook in the system. You can use this hook to determine whether to allow the system to call hook procedures associated with other types of hooks.

For more information, see the DebugProc callback function.

WH_FOREGROUNDIDLE

The WH_FOREGROUNDIDLE hook enables you to perform low priority tasks during times when its foreground thread is idle. The system calls a WH_FOREGROUNDIDLE hook procedure when the application's foreground thread is about to become idle.

For more information, see the ForegroundIdleProc callback function.

WH_GETMESSAGE

The WH_GETMESSAGE hook enables an application to monitor messages about to be returned by the GetMessage or PeekMessage function. You can use the WH_GETMESSAGE hook to monitor mouse and keyboard input and other messages posted to the message queue.

For more information, see the GetMsgProc callback function.

WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK

The WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK hook enables an application to insert messages into the system message queue. You can use this hook to play back a series of mouse and keyboard events recorded earlier by using WH_JOURNALRECORD. Regular mouse and keyboard input is disabled as long as a WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK hook is installed. A WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK hook is a global hook—it cannot be used as a thread-specific hook.

The WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK hook returns a time-out value. This value tells the system how many milliseconds to wait before processing the current message from the playback hook. This enables the hook to control the timing of the events it plays back.

For more information, see the JournalPlaybackProc callback function.

WH_JOURNALRECORD

The WH_JOURNALRECORD hook enables you to monitor and record input events. Typically, you use this hook to record a sequence of mouse and keyboard events to play back later by using WH_JOURNALPLAYBACK. The WH_JOURNALRECORD hook is a global hook—it cannot be used as a thread-specific hook.

For more information, see the JournalRecordProc callback function.

WH_KEYBOARD_LL

The WH_KEYBOARD_LL hook enables you to monitor keyboard input events about to be posted in a thread input queue.

For more information, see the LowLevelKeyboardProc callback function.

WH_KEYBOARD

The WH_KEYBOARD hook enables an application to monitor message traffic for WM_KEYDOWN and WM_KEYUP messages about to be returned by the GetMessage or PeekMessage function. You can use the WH_KEYBOARD hook to monitor keyboard input posted to a message queue.

For more information, see the KeyboardProc callback function.

WH_MOUSE_LL

The WH_MOUSE_LL hook enables you to monitor mouse input events about to be posted in a thread input queue.

For more information, see the LowLevelMouseProc callback function.

WH_MOUSE

The WH_MOUSE hook enables you to monitor mouse messages about to be returned by the GetMessage or PeekMessage function. You can use the WH_MOUSE hook to monitor mouse input posted to a message queue.

For more information, see the MouseProc callback function.

WH_MSGFILTER and WH_SYSMSGFILTER

The WH_MSGFILTER and WH_SYSMSGFILTER hooks enable you to monitor messages about to be processed by a menu, scroll bar, message box, or dialog box, and to detect when a different window is about to be activated as a result of the user's pressing the ALT+TAB or ALT+ESC key combination. The WH_MSGFILTER hook can only monitor messages passed to a menu, scroll bar, message box, or dialog box created by the application that installed the hook procedure. The WH_SYSMSGFILTER hook monitors such messages for all applications.

The WH_MSGFILTER and WH_SYSMSGFILTER hooks enable you to perform message filtering during modal loops that is equivalent to the filtering done in the main message loop. For example, an application often examines a new message in the main loop between the time it retrieves the message from the queue and the time it dispatches the message, performing special processing as appropriate. However, during a modal loop, the system retrieves and dispatches messages without allowing an application the chance to filter the messages in its main message loop. If an application installs a WH_MSGFILTER or WH_SYSMSGFILTER hook procedure, the system calls the procedure during the modal loop.

An application can call the WH_MSGFILTER hook directly by calling the CallMsgFilter function. By using this function, the application can use the same code to filter messages during modal loops as it uses in the main message loop. To do so, encapsulate the filtering operations in a WH_MSGFILTER hook procedure and call CallMsgFilter between the calls to the GetMessage and DispatchMessage functions.

while (GetMessage(&msg, (HWND) NULL, 0, 0)) 
{ 
    if (!CallMsgFilter(&qmsg, 0)) 
        DispatchMessage(&qmsg); 
} 

The last argument of CallMsgFilter is simply passed to the hook procedure; you can enter any value. The hook procedure, by defining a constant such as MSGF_MAINLOOP, can use this value to determine where the procedure was called from.

For more information, see the MessageProc and SysMsgProc callback functions.

WH_SHELL

A shell application can use the WH_SHELL hook to receive important notifications. The system calls a WH_SHELL hook procedure when the shell application is about to be activated and when a top-level window is created or destroyed.

Note that custom shell applications do not receive WH_SHELL messages. Therefore, any application that registers itself as the default shell must call the SystemParametersInfo function before it (or any other application) can receive WH_SHELL messages. This function must be called with SPI_SETMINIMIZEDMETRICS and a MINIMIZEDMETRICS structure. Set the iArrange member of this structure to ARW_HIDE.

For more information, see the ShellProc callback function.

 

 

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