CreateConsoleScreenBuffer function


This document describes console platform functionality that is no longer a part of our ecosystem roadmap. We do not recommend using this content in new products, but we will continue to support existing usages for the indefinite future. Our preferred modern solution focuses on virtual terminal sequences for maximum compatibility in cross-platform scenarios. You can find more information about this design decision in our classic console vs. virtual terminal document.

Creates a console screen buffer.


HANDLE WINAPI CreateConsoleScreenBuffer(
  _In_             DWORD               dwDesiredAccess,
  _In_             DWORD               dwShareMode,
  _In_opt_   const SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES *lpSecurityAttributes,
  _In_             DWORD               dwFlags,
  _Reserved_       LPVOID              lpScreenBufferData


dwDesiredAccess [in]
The access to the console screen buffer. For a list of access rights, see Console Buffer Security and Access Rights.

dwShareMode [in]
This parameter can be zero, indicating that the buffer cannot be shared, or it can be one or more of the following values.

Value Meaning
FILE_SHARE_READ 0x00000001 Other open operations can be performed on the console screen buffer for read access.
FILE_SHARE_WRITE 0x00000002 Other open operations can be performed on the console screen buffer for write access.

lpSecurityAttributes [in, optional]
A pointer to a SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES structure that determines whether the returned handle can be inherited by child processes. If lpSecurityAttributes is NULL, the handle cannot be inherited. The lpSecurityDescriptor member of the structure specifies a security descriptor for the new console screen buffer. If lpSecurityAttributes is NULL, the console screen buffer gets a default security descriptor. The ACLs in the default security descriptor for a console screen buffer come from the primary or impersonation token of the creator.

dwFlags [in]
The type of console screen buffer to create. The only supported screen buffer type is CONSOLE_TEXTMODE_BUFFER.

Reserved; should be NULL.

Return value

If the function succeeds, the return value is a handle to the new console screen buffer.

If the function fails, the return value is INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.


A console can have multiple screen buffers but only one active screen buffer. Inactive screen buffers can be accessed for reading and writing, but only the active screen buffer is displayed. To make the new screen buffer the active screen buffer, use the SetConsoleActiveScreenBuffer function.

The newly created screen buffer will copy some properties from the active screen buffer at the time that this function is called. The behavior is as follows:

  • Font - copied from active screen buffer
  • Display Window Size - copied from active screen buffer
  • Buffer Size - matched to Display Window Size (NOT copied)
  • Default Attributes (colors) - copied from active screen buffer
  • Default Popup Attributes (colors) - copied from active screen buffer

The calling process can use the returned handle in any function that requires a handle to a console screen buffer, subject to the limitations of access specified by the dwDesiredAccess parameter.

The calling process can use the DuplicateHandle function to create a duplicate screen buffer handle that has different access or inheritability from the original handle. However, DuplicateHandle cannot be used to create a duplicate that is valid for a different process (except through inheritance).

To close the console screen buffer handle, use the CloseHandle function.


This API is not recommended but it does have an approximate virtual terminal equivalent in the alternate screen buffer sequence. Setting the alternate screen buffer can provide an application with a separate, isolated space for drawing over the course of its session runtime while preserving the content that was displayed by the application's invoker. This maintains that drawing information for simple restoration on process exit.


For an example, see Reading and Writing Blocks of Characters and Attributes.


Minimum supported client Windows 2000 Professional [desktop apps only]
Minimum supported server Windows 2000 Server [desktop apps only]
Header ConsoleApi2.h (via WinCon.h, include Windows.h)
Library Kernel32.lib
DLL Kernel32.dll

See also

Console Functions

Console Screen Buffers