SetForegroundWindow function (winuser.h)

Brings the thread that created the specified window into the foreground and activates the window. Keyboard input is directed to the window, and various visual cues are changed for the user. The system assigns a slightly higher priority to the thread that created the foreground window than it does to other threads.


BOOL SetForegroundWindow(
  [in] HWND hWnd


[in] hWnd

Type: HWND

A handle to the window that should be activated and brought to the foreground.

Return value

Type: BOOL

If the window was brought to the foreground, the return value is nonzero.

If the window was not brought to the foreground, the return value is zero.


The system restricts which processes can set the foreground window. A process can set the foreground window by calling SetForegroundWindow only if:

  • All of the following conditions are true:
  • Additionally, at least one of the following conditions is true:
    • The calling process is the foreground process.
    • The calling process was started by the foreground process.
    • There is currently no foreground window, and thus no foreground process.
    • The calling process received the last input event.
    • Either the foreground process or the calling process is being debugged.

It is possible for a process to be denied the right to set the foreground window even if it meets these conditions.

An application cannot force a window to the foreground while the user is working with another window. Instead, Windows flashes the taskbar button of the window to notify the user.

A process that can set the foreground window can enable another process to set the foreground window by calling the AllowSetForegroundWindow function. The process specified by the dwProcessId parameter to AllowSetForegroundWindow loses the ability to set the foreground window the next time that either the user generates input, unless the input is directed at that process, or the next time a process calls AllowSetForegroundWindow, unless the same process is specified as in the previous call to AllowSetForegroundWindow.

The foreground process can disable calls to SetForegroundWindow by calling the LockSetForegroundWindow function.


The following code example demonstrates the use of SetForegroundWindow

// If the window is invisible we will show it and make it topmost without the
// foreground focus. If the window is visible it will also be made the
// topmost window without the foreground focus. If wParam is TRUE then
// for both cases the window will be forced into the foreground focus
if (uMsg == m_ShowStageMessage) {
    BOOL bVisible = IsWindowVisible(hwnd);
    SetWindowPos(hwnd, HWND_TOP, 0, 0, 0, 0,
                    SWP_NOMOVE | SWP_NOSIZE | SWP_SHOWWINDOW |
                    (bVisible ? SWP_NOACTIVATE : 0));
    // Should we bring the window to the foreground
    if (wParam == TRUE) {
    return (LRESULT) 1;


Requirement Value
Minimum supported client Windows 2000 Professional [desktop apps only]
Minimum supported server Windows 2000 Server [desktop apps only]
Target Platform Windows
Header winuser.h (include Windows.h)
Library User32.lib
DLL User32.dll
API set ext-ms-win-ntuser-window-l1-1-0 (introduced in Windows 8)

See also