Using Spy++

You can use Spy++ to perform the following tasks.

To install required components for Spy++, see Start Spy++.

Display Spy++ views

When Spy++ starts, it opens in Windows view, a tree view of all windows and controls available on your machine. This root window is captioned Windows 1. There are also three other Spy++ views available: Messages view, Processes view, and Threads view. You can display the desired view from the Spy menu.

Refresh the view

Spy++ takes a snapshot of the system tables and refreshes a view based on this information. It's important that you periodically refresh your system views. If you have a Spy++ view open and haven't refreshed the view, you don't see those processes, threads, and windows that are later created. Also, you might see items that no longer exist. The Refresh command is available for all views except the Messages view.

To refresh the currently active view:

  • Select Refresh from the Window menu, or choose the Refresh button in the toolbar.

Change fonts

You can change the font, font style, and font size for Spy++ windows.

To change font options:

  1. From the View menu, select Font.

  2. Choose a font, font style, and font size.

  3. Select OK.

    Selecting Save Font As Default causes all future Spy++ windows to use this font.

Expand and collapse Spy++ trees

You can expand and collapse the windows, processes, and threads views by using two methods: by selecting the icons in the window or by using the Tree menu. The + and - icons in the tree act as they do in the C++ project window.

The Tree menu contains four commands:

Menu command Description
Expand one level Expands the currently selected item to the next level.
Expand branch Fully expands the currently selected item.
Expand all Fully expands all items in the window.
Collapse Fully collapses the currently selected item.


If you expand a process, you see all the threads the process owns. If you expand a thread, you see a list of all the windows it owns.

To expand or collapse Spy++ trees:

  1. Highlight one of the items in the windows, processes, or threads view.

  2. From the Tree menu, choose one of the expand or collapse commands.