Lately I am busy working on developing a small shell extension. There is a functionality in my shell extension, that user opens the .NET windows form by right clicking on a file (context menu). The user then decides to close the parent explorer window (instead of closing the windows form opened). Now, in such a case I would like to close the windows form too. So, to achieve this I had to subscribe to the close event of the windows explorer. The below code shows the how to achieve the same. Although I am monitoring window close (destroy event), this can done for any process in Windows for which you have the handler (For ex: Notepad). Read more at link provided in “References” section.

So we are going to do it by performing following steps:

  • Find out the handle of the window we are interested in
  • Hook the Destroy event
  • When the event is raised, perform the desired operation

Find out the handle of the window we are interested in

public static IntPtr Find(string moduleName, string mainWindowTitle)
    //Search the window using Module and Title
    IntPtr WndToFind = NativeMethods.FindWindow(moduleName, mainWindowTitle);
    if (WndToFind.Equals(IntPtr.Zero))
        if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(mainWindowTitle))
            //Search window using Title only.
            WndToFind = NativeMethods.FindWindowByCaption(WndToFind, mainWindowTitle);
            if (WndToFind.Equals(IntPtr.Zero))
                return new IntPtr(0);
    return WndToFind;

We call the Find method as below. P.S: In my shell extension this window handler is automatically given by the library to me, so I do not use Find method.

string ModuleName = "explorer.exe";
    string MainWindowTitle = "Libraries";

    var targetWnd = Find(ModuleName, MainWindowTitle);

Hook the Destroy event

Put the below code in your constructor or initialization method.

public MainWindow()
    Dictionary<AccessibleEvents, NativeMethods.WinEventProc> events = InitializeWinEventToHandlerMap();

    //Hook window close event - close our HoverContorl on Target window close.
    NativeMethods.WinEventProc eventHandler = new NativeMethods.WinEventProc(events[AccessibleEvents.Destroy].Invoke);
    GCHandle gch = GCHandle.Alloc(eventHandler);

    _garbageHook = NativeMethods.SetWinEventHook(AccessibleEvents.Destroy, AccessibleEvents.Destroy, IntPtr.Zero, eventHandler
    , 0, 0, NativeMethods.SetWinEventHookParameter.WINEVENT_OUTOFCONTEXT);

private Dictionary<AccessibleEvents, NativeMethods.WinEventProc> InitializeWinEventToHandlerMap()
    Dictionary<AccessibleEvents, NativeMethods.WinEventProc> dictionary = new Dictionary<AccessibleEvents, NativeMethods.WinEventProc>();
    //You can add more events like ValueChanged - for more info please read - 
    dictionary.Add(AccessibleEvents.Destroy, new NativeMethods.WinEventProc(this.DestroyCallback));

    return dictionary;

When the event is raised, perform the desired operation

private void DestroyCallback(IntPtr winEventHookHandle, AccessibleEvents accEvent, IntPtr windowHandle, 
    int objectId, int childId, uint eventThreadId, uint eventTimeInMilliseconds)
    //Make sure AccessibleEvents equals to LocationChange and the current window is the Target Window.
    if (accEvent == AccessibleEvents.Destroy && windowHandle.ToInt32() == _targetWindowHandler.ToInt32())
        //Queues a method for execution. The method executes when a thread pool thread becomes available.
        ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem(new WaitCallback(this.DestroyHelper));

private void DestroyHelper(object state)
   MessageBox.Show("Good bye!");
    //Removes an event hook function created by a previous call to 


This demo application can be downloaded from below provided link, where in I am opening the explorer window and listening to close event. On close I am showing a simple message box.

Download Code


Add your control on top of another application – By Shai Raiten

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About Utkarsh Shigihalli

Utkarsh is passionate about software development and has more than 11 years of work experience. He has developed numerous extensions for Visual Studio and Visual Studio Team Services. He is currently working as a Consultant in the United States.