ReadConsoleOutputAttribute 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.

Copies a specified number of character attributes from consecutive cells of a console screen buffer, beginning at a specified location.


BOOL WINAPI ReadConsoleOutputAttribute(
  _In_  HANDLE  hConsoleOutput,
  _Out_ LPWORD  lpAttribute,
  _In_  DWORD   nLength,
  _In_  COORD   dwReadCoord,
  _Out_ LPDWORD lpNumberOfAttrsRead


hConsoleOutput [in]
A handle to the console screen buffer. The handle must have the GENERIC_READ access right. For more information, see Console Buffer Security and Access Rights.

lpAttribute [out]
A pointer to a buffer that receives the attributes being used by the console screen buffer.

For more information, see Character Attributes.

nLength [in]
The number of screen buffer character cells from which to read. The size of the buffer pointed to by the lpAttribute parameter should be nLength * sizeof(WORD).

dwReadCoord [in]
The coordinates of the first cell in the console screen buffer from which to read, in characters. The X member of the COORD structure is the column, and the Y member is the row.

lpNumberOfAttrsRead [out]
A pointer to a variable that receives the number of attributes actually read.

Return value

If the function succeeds, the return value is nonzero.

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


If the number of attributes to be read from extends beyond the end of the specified screen buffer row, attributes are read from the next row. If the number of attributes to be read from extends beyond the end of the console screen buffer, attributes up to the end of the console screen buffer are read.


This API is not recommended and does not have a virtual terminal equivalent. This decision intentionally aligns the Windows platform with other operating systems where the individual client application is expected to remember its own drawn state for further manipulation. Applications remoting via cross-platform utilities and transports like SSH may not work as expected if using this API.


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


Low-Level Console Output Functions