How Do I Enable Visual Styles in My .NET Win Forms Application?

With the .NET Framework 1.0 it was already possible to enable Visual Styles for your .NET Windows Forms so the application took on that shinny new Windows XP look. Enabling Visual Styles was quite a hassle, though. You had to create a manifest file that contained a lot of gobbledygook and it wasn't as straight-forward as you'd hope.
With the .NET Framework 1.1, however, things have become much easier.

At the bottom of this FAQ you'll find a link to an article that explains how to enable Visual Styles for the .NET Framework 1.0. It explains how to create a manifest file.

For version 1.1 of the .NET Framework, things are much easier. Instead of creating the manifest file, all you need to do is call Application.EnableVisualStyles() from within the Main method of your application.

If your application already contains a Main method, simply add the call to EnableVisualStyles() somewhere to that method. If you don't have a Main method yet, add the following code your application:

<System.STAThread()> Public Shared Sub Main()
Application.Run(New Form1)
End Sub

// C# [STAThread]
static void Main()
Application.Run(new Form1());

Don't forget to change Form1 in the code above with the name of your StartUp form.

For controls that support the FlatStyle property, you have to set that property to FlatStyle.System. Other controls, like the ProgressBar, the TabControl and the TextBox will automatically apply the new Windows XP look. The following screen shot shows a Windows Form application with Visual Styles enabled. Notice the looks of the second button: even though Visual Styles are enabled, because the FlatStyle property of the button is set FlatStyle.Standard instead of FlatStyle.System, the button does not take on the new look:

The Application with Visual Styles Enabled
Figure 1 - The Sample Application with Visual Styles Enabled

If you don't make the call to EnableVisualStyles() at all, or view the application on an older Windows version, like Windows 2000, this is what you'll see instead:

The Application with Visual Styles Disabled
Figure 2 - The Sample Application without Visual Styles Enabled


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Written by Imar Spaanjaars
Date Posted 04/13/2004 12:39
Date Last Updated 11/02/2020 16:31
Date Last Reviewed 12/07/2006 17:24
Listened to when writing <strong>king o' cats</strong> by <strong>360's</strong> (Track 5 from the album: <strong>supernatural</strong>)


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