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How to: Add Search Capabilities to a ListView Control

Oftentimes when working with a large list of items in a ListView control, you want to offer search capabilities to the user. The ListView control offers this capability in two different ways: text matching and location searching.

The FindItemWithText method allows you to perform a text search on a ListView in list or details view, given a search string and an optional starting and ending index. In contrast, the FindNearestItem method allows you to find an item in a ListView in icon or tile view, given a set of x- and y-coordinates and a direction to search.

To find an item using text

  1. Create a ListView with the View property set to Details or List, and then populate the ListView with items.

  2. Call the FindItemWithText method, passing the text of the item you would like to find.

  3. The following code example demonstrates how to create a basic ListView, populate it with items, and use text input from the user to find an item in the list.

private ListView textListView = new ListView();
private TextBox searchBox = new TextBox();
private void InitializeTextSearchListView()
    searchBox.Location = new Point(10, 60);
    textListView.Scrollable = true;
    textListView.Width = 80;
    textListView.Height = 50;

    // Set the View to list to use the FindItemWithText method.
    textListView.View = View.List;

    // Populate the ListViewWithItems
    textListView.Items.AddRange(new ListViewItem[]{ 
        new ListViewItem("Amy Alberts"), 
        new ListViewItem("Amy Recker"), 
        new ListViewItem("Erin Hagens"), 
        new ListViewItem("Barry Johnson"), 
        new ListViewItem("Jay Hamlin"), 
        new ListViewItem("Brian Valentine"), 
        new ListViewItem("Brian Welker"), 
        new ListViewItem("Daniel Weisman") });

    // Handle the TextChanged to get the text for our search.
    searchBox.TextChanged += new EventHandler(searchBox_TextChanged);

    // Add the controls to the form. 


private void searchBox_TextChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
    // Call FindItemWithText with the contents of the textbox.
    ListViewItem foundItem =
        textListView.FindItemWithText(searchBox.Text, false, 0, true);
    if (foundItem != null)
        textListView.TopItem = foundItem;


To find an item using x- and y-coordinates

  1. Create a ListView with the View property set to SmallIcon or LargeIcon, and then populate the ListView with items.

  2. Call the FindNearestItem method, passing the desired x- and y-coordinates and the direction you would like to search.

  3. The following code example demonstrates how to create a basic icon ListView, populate it with items, and capture the MouseDown event to find the nearest item in the up direction.

ListView iconListView = new ListView();
TextBox previousItemBox = new TextBox();

private void InitializeLocationSearchListView()
    previousItemBox.Location = new Point(150, 20);

    // Create an image list for the icon ListView.
    iconListView.LargeImageList = new ImageList();
    iconListView.Height = 400;

    // Add an image to the ListView large icon list.
        new Bitmap(typeof(Control), "Edit.bmp"));

    // Set the view to large icon and add some items with the image 
    // in the image list.
    iconListView.View = View.LargeIcon;
    iconListView.Items.AddRange(new ListViewItem[]{
        new ListViewItem("Amy Alberts", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Amy Recker", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Erin Hagens", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Barry Johnson", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Jay Hamlin", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Brian Valentine", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Brian Welker", 0), 
        new ListViewItem("Daniel Weisman", 0) });

    // Handle the MouseDown event to capture user input.
   iconListView.MouseDown +=
       new MouseEventHandler(iconListView_MouseDown);
    //iconListView.MouseWheel += new MouseEventHandler(iconListView_MouseWheel);   

void iconListView_MouseDown(object sender, MouseEventArgs e)

    // Find the an item above where the user clicked.
    ListViewItem foundItem =
        iconListView.FindNearestItem(SearchDirectionHint.Up, e.X, e.Y);

    // Display the results in a textbox.. 
    if (foundItem != null)
        previousItemBox.Text = foundItem.Text;
        previousItemBox.Text = "No item found";