GetTempPathA function (fileapi.h)

Retrieves the path of the directory designated for temporary files.


DWORD GetTempPathA(
  [in]  DWORD nBufferLength,
  [out] LPSTR lpBuffer


[in] nBufferLength

The size of the string buffer identified by lpBuffer, in TCHARs.

[out] lpBuffer

A pointer to a string buffer that receives the null-terminated string specifying the temporary file path. The returned string ends with a backslash, for example, "C:\TEMP\".

Return value

If the function succeeds, the return value is the length, in TCHARs, of the string copied to lpBuffer, not including the terminating null character. If the return value is greater than nBufferLength, the return value is the length, in TCHARs, of the buffer required to hold the path.

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

The maximum possible return value is MAX_PATH+1 (261).



Apps should call GetTempPath2 instead of GetTempPath.

The GetTempPath function checks for the existence of environment variables in the following order and uses the first path found:

  1. The path specified by the TMP environment variable.
  2. The path specified by the TEMP environment variable.
  3. The path specified by the USERPROFILE environment variable.
  4. The Windows directory.
Note that the function does not verify that the path exists, nor does it test to see if the current process has any kind of access rights to the path. The GetTempPath function returns the properly formatted string that specifies the fully qualified path based on the environment variable search order as previously specified. The application should verify the existence of the path and adequate access rights to the path prior to any use for file I/O operations.

Symbolic link behavior—If the path points to a symbolic link, the temp path name maintains any symbolic links.

In Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, this function is supported by the following technologies.

Technology Supported
Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 protocol Yes
SMB 3.0 Transparent Failover (TFO) Yes
SMB 3.0 with Scale-out File Shares (SO) Yes
Cluster Shared Volume File System (CsvFS) Yes
Resilient File System (ReFS) Yes


For an example, see Creating and Using a Temporary File.


The fileapi.h header defines GetTempPath as an alias which automatically selects the ANSI or Unicode version of this function based on the definition of the UNICODE preprocessor constant. Mixing usage of the encoding-neutral alias with code that not encoding-neutral can lead to mismatches that result in compilation or runtime errors. For more information, see Conventions for Function Prototypes.


Requirement Value
Minimum supported client Windows XP [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Minimum supported server Windows Server 2003 [desktop apps | UWP apps]
Target Platform Windows
Header fileapi.h (include Windows.h)
Library Kernel32.lib
DLL Kernel32.dll

See also

File Management Functions


Symbolic Links