Detecting a Key Press (Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox 360)

Demonstrates how to detect if a user pressed or released a key on the keyboard.

Complete Sample

The code in this topic shows you the technique for detecting a key press or release on the keyboard. You can download a complete code sample for this topic, including full source code and any additional supporting files required by the sample.

By using GetState a game can determine which keys are being held down. A game often needs to detect when a user has pressed or released a key. For example, there is the case of an action title that requires users to press and release keys in rapid succession. The example uses a cached KeyboardState object to determine if keys were pressed or released in a given frame.

On Windows Phone, there are a number of issues that must be considered when designing a game to take keyboard input. For example, many Windows Phone devices do not have a hardware keyboard. See Working with Hardware Keyboards (Windows Phone) for more information.

Depending on game design, there may be times when checking for a key press needs to occur more frequently, and other times it does not. It is possible in the case of very fast key presses that more than one key press could occur within one frame. In such a case, the last key press is returned. Writing code that checks as often as possible for key presses is the best way to handle this case.

This technique is implemented in the FuelCell game—a game developed by following a series of focused articles that discuss basic 3D game development. For more information, see FuelCell: What's My Motivation.

Detecting a Key Press or Release

To detect if a key is pressed or released

  1. Declare a KeyboardState object to hold the last known keyboard state (in this example, the oldState object).

  2. Assign this object a value in your constructor.

  3. Call GetState to retrieve the current keyboard state (in this example, the newState object).

  4. Compare the values in your newState object to the values in the oldState object.

    Keys pressed in the newState object that were not pressed in the oldState object were pressed during this frame. Conversely, keys pressed in the oldState object that are not pressed in the newState object were released during this frame.

  5. Update oldState object to the newState object before leaving Update.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Content;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GamerServices;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Graphics;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Input;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Media;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Net;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Storage;

namespace Keypress
    public class Game1 : Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game
        GraphicsDeviceManager graphics;
        KeyboardState oldState;
        Color backColor = Color.CornflowerBlue;

        public Game1()
            graphics = new GraphicsDeviceManager(this);

        protected override void Initialize()
            oldState = Keyboard.GetState();

        protected override void LoadContent()

        protected override void UnloadContent()

        protected override void Update(GameTime gameTime)
            // Allows the game to exit
            if (GamePad.GetState(PlayerIndex.One).Buttons.Back == 



        private void UpdateInput()
            KeyboardState newState = Keyboard.GetState();

            // Is the SPACE key down?
            if (newState.IsKeyDown(Keys.Space))
                // If not down last update, key has just been pressed.
                if (!oldState.IsKeyDown(Keys.Space))
                    backColor = 
                        new Color(backColor.R, backColor.G, (byte)~backColor.B);
            else if (oldState.IsKeyDown(Keys.Space))
                // Key was down last update, but not down now, so
                // it has just been released.

            // Update saved state.
            oldState = newState;

        protected override void Draw(GameTime gameTime)

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