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GetTempFileName function

Creates a name for a temporary file. If a unique file name is generated, an empty file is created and the handle to it is released; otherwise, only a file name is generated.


UINT WINAPI GetTempFileName(
  _In_  LPCTSTR lpPathName,
  _In_  LPCTSTR lpPrefixString,
  _In_  UINT    uUnique,
  _Out_ LPTSTR  lpTempFileName


lpPathName [in]

The directory path for the file name. Applications typically specify a period (.) for the current directory or the result of the GetTempPath function. The string cannot be longer than MAX_PATH–14 characters or GetTempFileName will fail. If this parameter is NULL, the function fails.

lpPrefixString [in]

The null-terminated prefix string. The function uses up to the first three characters of this string as the prefix of the file name. This string must consist of characters in the OEM-defined character set.

uUnique [in]

An unsigned integer to be used in creating the temporary file name. For more information, see Remarks.

If uUnique is zero, the function attempts to form a unique file name using the current system time. If the file already exists, the number is increased by one and the functions tests if this file already exists. This continues until a unique filename is found; the function creates a file by that name and closes it. Note that the function does not attempt to verify the uniqueness of the file name when uUnique is nonzero.

lpTempFileName [out]

A pointer to the buffer that receives the temporary file name. This buffer should be MAX_PATH characters to accommodate the path plus the terminating null character.

Return value

If the function succeeds, the return value specifies the unique numeric value used in the temporary file name. If the uUnique parameter is nonzero, the return value specifies that same number.

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

The following is a possible return value.

Return valueDescription

The length of the string pointed to by the lpPathName parameter is more than MAX_PATH–14 characters.



The GetTempFileName function creates a temporary file name of the following form:


The following table describes the file name syntax.

<path>Path specified by the lpPathName parameter
<pre>First three letters of the lpPrefixString string
<uuuu>Hexadecimal value of uUnique


If uUnique is zero, GetTempFileName creates an empty file and closes it. If uUnique is not zero, you must create the file yourself. Only a file name is created, because GetTempFileName is not able to guarantee that the file name is unique.

Only the lower 16 bits of the uUnique parameter are used. This limits GetTempFileName to a maximum of 65,535 unique file names if the lpPathName and lpPrefixString parameters remain the same.

Due to the algorithm used to generate file names, GetTempFileName can perform poorly when creating a large number of files with the same prefix. In such cases, it is recommended that you construct unique file names based on GUIDs.

Temporary files whose names have been created by this function are not automatically deleted. To delete these files call DeleteFile.

To avoid problems resulting when converting an ANSI string, an application should call the CreateFile function to create a temporary file.

In Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, this function is supported by the following technologies.


Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 protocol


SMB 3.0 Transparent Failover (TFO)


SMB 3.0 with Scale-out File Shares (SO)


Cluster Shared Volume File System (CsvFS)


Resilient File System (ReFS)




For an example, see Creating and Using a Temporary File.


Minimum supported client

Windows XP [desktop apps only]

Minimum supported server

Windows Server 2003 [desktop apps only]


FileAPI.h (include Windows.h);
WinBase.h on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP (include Windows.h)





Unicode and ANSI names

GetTempFileNameW (Unicode) and GetTempFileNameA (ANSI)

See also

File Management Functions
Naming Files, Paths, and Namespaces



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