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Form.KeyPreview Property

Gets or sets a value indicating whether the form will receive key events before the event is passed to the control that has focus.

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

Public Property KeyPreview As Boolean

Property Value

Type: System.Boolean
true if the form will receive all key events; false if the currently selected control on the form receives key events. The default is false.

When this property is set to true, the form will receive all KeyPress, KeyDown, and KeyUp events. After the form's event handlers have completed processing the keystroke, the keystroke is then assigned to the control with focus. For example, if the KeyPreview property is set to true and the currently selected control is a TextBox, after the keystroke is handled by the event handlers of the form the TextBox control will receive the key that was pressed. To handle keyboard events only at the form level and not allow controls to receive keyboard events, set the KeyPressEventArgs.Handled property in your form's KeyPress event handler to true.

You can use this property to process most keystrokes in your application and either handle the keystroke or call the appropriate control to handle the keystroke. For example, when an application uses function keys, you might want to process the keystrokes at the form level rather than writing code for each control that might receive keystroke events.


If a form has no visible or enabled controls, it automatically receives all keyboard events.


A control on a form may be programmed to cancel any keystrokes it receives. Since the control never sends these keystrokes to the form, the form will never see them regardless of the setting of KeyPreview.

The following code example demonstrates setting a form's KeyPreview property to true and handling the key events at the form level. To run the example, paste the following code in a blank form.

Imports System.Windows.Forms
Imports System.Security.Permissions

Public Class Form1
    Inherits System.Windows.Forms.Form

    ' Declare the controls contained on the form.
    Private WithEvents button1 As MyMnemonicButton
    Friend WithEvents ListBox1 As System.Windows.Forms.ListBox

    Public Sub New()

        ' Set KeyPreview object to true to allow the form to process 
        ' the key before the control with focus processes it.
        Me.KeyPreview = True

        ' Add a MyMnemonicButton.  
        button1 = New MyMnemonicButton
        button1.Text = "&Click"
        button1.Location = New System.Drawing.Point(100, 120)

        ' Initialize a ListBox control and the form itself.
        Me.ListBox1 = New System.Windows.Forms.ListBox
        Me.ListBox1.Location = New System.Drawing.Point(8, 8)
        Me.ListBox1.Name = "ListBox1"
        Me.ListBox1.Size = New System.Drawing.Size(120, 95)
        Me.ListBox1.TabIndex = 0
        Me.ListBox1.Text = "Press a key"
        Me.ClientSize = New System.Drawing.Size(292, 266)
        Me.Name = "Form1"
        Me.Text = "Form1"

    End Sub

    ' The form will handle all key events before the control with  
    ' focus handles them.  Show the keys pressed by adding the
    ' KeyCode object to ListBox1. Ensure the processing is passed
    ' to the control with focus by setting the KeyEventArg.Handled
    ' property to false.
    Private Sub Form1_KeyDown(ByVal sender As Object, _
        ByVal e As KeyEventArgs) Handles MyBase.KeyDown
        e.Handled = False
    End Sub

    <System.STAThreadAttribute()> Public Shared Sub Main()
        Application.Run(New Form1)
    End Sub

End Class

' This button is a simple extension of the button class that overrides
' the ProcessMnemonic method.  If the mnemonic is correctly entered,  
' the message box will appear and the click event will be raised.  
Public Class MyMnemonicButton
    Inherits Button

    ' This method makes sure the control is selectable and the 
    ' mneumonic is correct before displaying the message box
    ' and triggering the click event.
    <System.Security.Permissions.UIPermission( _
    System.Security.Permissions.SecurityAction.Demand, Window:=UIPermissionWindow.AllWindows)> _
    Protected Overrides Function ProcessMnemonic( _
        ByVal inputChar As Char) As Boolean

        If (CanSelect And IsMnemonic(inputChar, Me.Text)) Then
            MessageBox.Show("You've raised the click event " _
                & "using the mnemonic.")
            Return True
        End If
        Return False
    End Function

End Class

The following code example demonstrates setting a form's KeyPreview property to true and handling the key events at the form level. To run the example, paste the following code in a blank form.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 4, 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Framework Client Profile

Supported in: 4, 3.5 SP1

Windows 7, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows XP SP3, Windows XP SP2 x64 Edition, Windows Server 2008 (Server Core not supported), Windows Server 2008 R2 (Server Core supported with SP1 or later), Windows Server 2003 SP2

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