Event Objects

An event object is a synchronization object whose state can be explicitly set to signaled by use of the SetEvent function. Following are the two types of event object.

Manual-reset eventAn event object whose state remains signaled until it is explicitly reset to nonsignaled by the ResetEvent function. While it is signaled, any number of waiting threads, or threads that subsequently specify the same event object in one of the wait functions, can be released.
Auto-reset eventAn event object whose state remains signaled until a single waiting thread is released, at which time the system automatically sets the state to nonsignaled.

If no threads are waiting, the event object's state remains signaled. If more than one thread is waiting, a waiting thread is selected. Do not assume a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order. External events such as kernel-mode APCs can change the wait order.


The event object is useful in sending a signal to a thread indicating that a particular event has occurred. For example, in overlapped input and output, the system sets a specified event object to the signaled state when the overlapped operation has been completed. A single thread can specify different event objects in several simultaneous overlapped operations, then use one of the multiple-object wait functions to wait for the state of any one of the event objects to be signaled.

A thread uses the CreateEvent or CreateEventEx function to create an event object. The creating thread specifies the initial state of the object and whether it is a manual-reset or auto-reset event object. The creating thread can also specify a name for the event object. Threads in other processes can open a handle to an existing event object by specifying its name in a call to the OpenEvent function. For additional information about names for mutex, event, semaphore, and timer objects, see Interprocess Synchronization.

Related topics

Using Event Objects