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Using Windows Forms Controls in WPF

By Mahesh Chand on Jun 20 2008
In this tutorial, you will learn how to use existing Windows Forms controls in a WPF application. I have used Visual Studio 2008 to create this tutorial.
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In this tutorial, you will learn how we can use existing Windows Forms controls in a WPF application. I have used Visual Studio 2008 to create this tutorial.

Note: If you do not have Visual Studio 2008, you may want to download Visual Studio 2008 Express versions here: . All Express versions are free.    

Step 1: Create a WPF Application using Visual Studio 2008

First create a WPF application using Visual Studio 2008. Click on File >> New >> Project menu and select WPF Application from Templates as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Create a WPF Application

Step 1: Add Reference to Windows FormsIntegration and Windows Forms namespaces

In Solution Explorer, right click on References node and select Add Reference menu item. On Browse tab, go to "C:\Program Files\Reference Assemblies\Microsoft\Framework\v3.0" folder and select WindowsFormsIntegration.dll file and click OK button. If you have .NET 3.5 installed, you should also see v3.5. You need to select the current version of DLL you are working with. See Figure 2.


Figure 2. Adding WindowsFormsIntegration reference

Select Add Reference again and this time on .NET tab, select System.Windows.Forms and click OK. See Figure 3.


Figure 3. Adding System.Windows.Forms reference

This action adds assemblies to your application (copies to the Bin folder) you need to work with Windows Forms controls in your WPF application.

Next, go to your XAML file and add the following namespace and assembly reference within the Windows tag.


The final Windows tag looks like this:

<Window x:Class="WinFormInWPF.Window1"




    Title="Window1" Height="300" Width="300" Loaded="Window_Loaded">





Step 2: Add Windows Forms control to XAML

There are two ways to create a Windows Forms control in XAML. Either we can create a Windows Forms control in our XAML code using XAML syntaxes or we can create at runtime by using Windows Forms classes.

First, let's see how we can create a Windows Forms control in XAML.

Say, you want to use Windows Forms' ListBox control in your WPF application, you simply have to add the below code inside your Grid tag in XAML. The WindowsFormsHost tag is used to host Windows Forms control and wf:ListBox tag represents the Windows Forms ListBox. Similarly, you can add any Windows Forms control to your WPF application.



            <wf:ListBox x:Name="lstBox"/>





Step 3: Add Windows Forms control support to code

After that you need to go Window1.xaml.cs file to import these namespaces so we can use Windows Forms and related classes.

using System.Windows.Forms;

using System.Windows.Forms.Integration;


Step 4: Using Windows Forms control

Now, we can use Windows Forms control in our .cs file as in previous Windows Forms applications. If you double click on the Window in your XAML designer, it will add Window_Loaded event handler to the .cs file.

In the following code, I access lstBox control on Windows_Loaded event handler and calls Items.Add method a few times to add items to the ListBox.

private void Window_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)


            lstBox.Items.Add("Mahesh Chand");

            lstBox.Items.Add("XAML Title");

            lstBox.Items.Add("JJ Kohls");

Step 5: Build and Run

Now build and run your application. The output is Figure 4.


Figure 4. Windows Forms' ListBox in a WPF Application

Tip 1: Using multiple Windows Forms Controls 

If you wish to use multiple Windows Forms controls in a WPF application, each control should be inside a WindowsFormsHost tag.


            <wf:ListBox x:Name="lstBox"/>



            <wf:DataGridView x:Name="DbGrid" />


Tip 2: Using Windows Forms Controls Dynamically

In previous steps, we created a ListBox control in XAML. You may also create the control dynamically using Windows Forms classes. The following code creates a WindowsFormsHost object, a ListBox control and adds the ListBox control to the host. In the end, the host s added to the XAML Grid.

private void Window_Loaded(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)


            WindowsFormsHost host = new WindowsFormsHost();

            //Create a Windows Forms ListBox control

            System.Windows.Forms.ListBox lstBox = new System.Windows.Forms.ListBox();

            lstBox.Items.Add("Mahesh Chand");

            lstBox.Items.Add("XAML Title");

            lstBox.Items.Add("JJ Kohls");


            // Add the Windows Forms ListBox to the host control

            host.Child = lstBox;

            // Add the host control to the WPF element that you want to parent the control,

            // in this case it's a Grid





In this article, I discussed how we can use a Windows Forms' ListBox controls in WPF applications. You may use same approach to use any Windows Forms control in WPF such as DataGrid or DataGridView controls.