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SystemEvents Class

Provides access to system event notifications. This class cannot be inherited.

Namespace:  Microsoft.Win32
Assembly:  System (in System.dll)

[PermissionSetAttribute(SecurityAction.LinkDemand, Name = "FullTrust")]
[HostProtectionAttribute(SecurityAction.LinkDemand, MayLeakOnAbort = true)]
public sealed class SystemEvents


The HostProtectionAttribute attribute applied to this type or member has the following Resources property value: MayLeakOnAbort. The HostProtectionAttribute does not affect desktop applications (which are typically started by double-clicking an icon, typing a command, or entering a URL in a browser). For more information, see the HostProtectionAttribute class or SQL Server Programming and Host Protection Attributes.

The SystemEvents class provides the ability to respond to specific types of system events.

When a system event is raised, any delegates attached to the event are called using the thread that monitors for system events. Therefore, you should make any calls from your event handlers thread-safe. If you need to call a system event that is not exposed as a member of this class, you can use the InvokeOnEventsThread method.

Caution noteCaution:

Do not perform time-consuming processing on the thread that raises a system event handler because it might prevent other applications from functioning.


Some system events might not be raised on Windows Vista. Be sure to verify that your application works as expected on Windows Vista.

This section contains two examples. The first example shows how to use system events in an ordinary application, and the second example shows how to use system events in a Windows service.

Example 1

The following code example registers interest in some system events and then waits for any of those events to occur. The output shown occurs if the user changes the display resolution.

using System;
using Microsoft.Win32;

public sealed class App 
    static void Main() 
        // Set the SystemEvents class to receive event notification when a user  
        // preference changes, the palette changes, or when display settings change.
        SystemEvents.UserPreferenceChanging += new 
        SystemEvents.PaletteChanged += new 
        SystemEvents.DisplaySettingsChanged += new 

        // For demonstration purposes, this application sits idle waiting for events.
        Console.WriteLine("This application is waiting for system events.");
        Console.WriteLine("Press <Enter> to terminate this application.");

    // This method is called when a user preference changes. 
    static void SystemEvents_UserPreferenceChanging(object sender, UserPreferenceChangingEventArgs e) 
        Console.WriteLine("The user preference is changing. Category={0}", e.Category);

    // This method is called when the palette changes. 
    static void SystemEvents_PaletteChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Console.WriteLine("The palette changed.");

    // This method is called when the display settings change. 
    static void SystemEvents_DisplaySettingsChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
        Console.WriteLine("The display settings changed.");

// This code produces the following output. 
//  This app is waiting for system events. 
//  Press <Enter> to terminate this application. 
//  Display Settings changed. 
//  User preference is changing. Category=General

Example 2

The following code example demonstrates a very simple Windows service that handles the TimeChanged and UserPreferenceChanged events. The example includes a service named SimpleService, a form named HiddenForm, and an installer. The form provides the message loop that is required by system events.


Services do not have message loops, unless they are allowed to interact with the desktop. If the message loop is not provided by a hidden form, as in this example, the service must be run under the local system account, and manual intervention is required to enable interaction with the desktop. That is, the administrator must manually check the Allow service to interact with desktop check box on the Log On tab of the service properties dialog box. In that case, a message loop is automatically provided. This option is available only when the service is run under the local system account. Interaction with the desktop cannot be enabled programmatically.

The service in this example starts a thread that runs an instance of HiddenForm. The events are hooked up and handled in the form. The events must be hooked up in the load event of the form, to make sure that the form is completely loaded first; otherwise the events will not be raised.


The example provides all the necessary code, including the form initialization code typically generated by Visual Studio designers. If you are developing your service in Visual Studio, you can omit the second partial class and use the Properties window to set the height and width of the hidden form to zero, the border style to FormBorderStyle.None, and the window state to FormWindowState.Minimized.

To run the example:

  1. Compile the code from the command line. The name that you use for the source file is not important.

  2. Install the service from the command line using the Installer Tool (Installutil.exe) utility. For example, InstallUtil example.exe if the source file name is example.cs or example.vb. You must be an administrator to install the service.

  3. Use the Services console to start the service.

  4. Change the system time, or change user preferences, such as mouse properties.

  5. View the messages in the Application category of Event Viewer.

  6. Use the Services console to stop the service.

  7. Uninstall the service from the command line by using the /u option. For example, InstallUtil /u example.exe.

using System;
using System.ServiceProcess;
using System.Threading;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Diagnostics;
using Microsoft.Win32;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Configuration.Install;

namespace SimpleServiceCs
    public class SimpleService : ServiceBase
        static void Main(string[] args)
            ServiceBase.Run(new SimpleService());

        protected override void OnStart(string[] args)
            EventLog.WriteEntry("SimpleService", "Starting SimpleService");
            new Thread(RunMessagePump).Start();

        void RunMessagePump()
            EventLog.WriteEntry("SimpleService.MessagePump", "Starting SimpleService Message Pump");
            Application.Run(new HiddenForm());

        protected override void OnStop()

    public partial class HiddenForm : Form
        public HiddenForm()

        private void HiddenForm_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
            SystemEvents.TimeChanged += new EventHandler(SystemEvents_TimeChanged);
            SystemEvents.UserPreferenceChanged += new UserPreferenceChangedEventHandler(SystemEvents_UPCChanged);

        private void HiddenForm_FormClosing(object sender, FormClosingEventArgs e)
            SystemEvents.TimeChanged -= new EventHandler(SystemEvents_TimeChanged);
            SystemEvents.UserPreferenceChanged -= new UserPreferenceChangedEventHandler(SystemEvents_UPCChanged);

        private void SystemEvents_TimeChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
            EventLog.WriteEntry("SimpleService.TimeChanged", "Time changed; it is now " +

        private void SystemEvents_UPCChanged(object sender, UserPreferenceChangedEventArgs e)
            EventLog.WriteEntry("SimpleService.UserPreferenceChanged", e.Category.ToString());

    partial class HiddenForm
        private System.ComponentModel.IContainer components = null;

        protected override void Dispose(bool disposing)
            if (disposing && (components != null))

        private void InitializeComponent()
            this.AutoScaleDimensions = new System.Drawing.SizeF(6F, 13F);
            this.AutoScaleMode = System.Windows.Forms.AutoScaleMode.Font;
            this.ClientSize = new System.Drawing.Size(0, 0);
            this.FormBorderStyle = System.Windows.Forms.FormBorderStyle.None;
            this.Name = "HiddenForm";
            this.Text = "HiddenForm";
            this.WindowState = System.Windows.Forms.FormWindowState.Minimized;
            this.Load += new System.EventHandler(this.HiddenForm_Load);
            this.FormClosing += new System.Windows.Forms.FormClosingEventHandler(this.HiddenForm_FormClosing);


    public class SimpleInstaller : Installer
        private ServiceInstaller serviceInstaller;
        private ServiceProcessInstaller processInstaller;

        public SimpleInstaller()
            processInstaller = new ServiceProcessInstaller();
            serviceInstaller = new ServiceInstaller();

            // Service will run under system account
            processInstaller.Account = ServiceAccount.LocalSystem;

            // Service will have Start Type of Manual
            serviceInstaller.StartType = ServiceStartMode.Automatic;

            serviceInstaller.ServiceName = "Simple Service";



Any public static (Shared in Visual Basic) members of this type are thread safe. Any instance members are not guaranteed to be thread safe.

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Starter Edition, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98

The .NET Framework and .NET Compact Framework do not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0