This documentation is archived and is not being maintained.

DataFormats Class

Provides static, predefined Clipboard format names. Use them to identify the format of data that you store in an IDataObject.

Namespace:  System.Windows.Forms
Assembly:  System.Windows.Forms (in System.Windows.Forms.dll)

public class DataFormats

The IDataObject and DataObject classes also use the static format list to determine the type of data that is retrieved from the system Clipboard, or that is transferred in a drag-and-drop operation.

The GetFormat method allows you to:

  • Get a predefined DataFormats.Format object for a format name or ID number.

  • Add a new format name/ID number pair to the static list in this class, and to register the format with the Windows registry as a Clipboard format when you pass it the format name.

You can get the Id number or format Name from the appropriate property in the DataFormats.Format instance.

The following code example creates a new data format named myFormat. The code then creates a MyNewObject which it stores in a DataObject. The DataObject is copied to the Clipboard.

Next, the DataObject is retrieved from the Clipboard and the MyNewObject is recovered. The value of the MyNewObject is printed in a text box. This code requires that textBox1 has been created and placed on a form.

using System;
using System.Windows.Forms;

public class MyClass : Form {
    protected TextBox textBox1;

    public void MyClipboardMethod() {
       // Creates a new data format.
       DataFormats.Format myFormat = DataFormats.GetFormat("myFormat");

       /* Creates a new object and stores it in a DataObject using myFormat 
        * as the type of format. */
       MyNewObject myObject = new MyNewObject();
       DataObject myDataObject = new DataObject(myFormat.Name, myObject);

       // Copies myObject into the clipboard.

       // Performs some processing steps. 

       // Retrieves the data from the clipboard.
       IDataObject myRetrievedObject = Clipboard.GetDataObject();

       // Converts the IDataObject type to MyNewObject type. 
       MyNewObject myDereferencedObject = (MyNewObject)myRetrievedObject.GetData(myFormat.Name);

       // Prints the value of the Object in a textBox.
       textBox1.Text = myDereferencedObject.MyObjectValue;

 // Creates a new type.
 public class MyNewObject : Object {
    private string myValue;

    // Creates a default constructor for the class. 
    public MyNewObject() {
       myValue = "This is the value of the class";

    // Creates a property to retrieve or set the value. 
    public string MyObjectValue {
       get {
          return myValue;
       set {
          myValue = value;


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, Windows CE, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC

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

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 2.0