[c#] Find all controls in WPF Window by type

I'm looking for a way to find all controls on Window by their type,

for example: find all TextBoxes, find all controls implementing specific interface etc.

This question is related to c# .net wpf

The answer is


Do note that using the VisualTreeHelper does only work on controls that derive from Visual or Visual3D. If you also need to inspect other elements (e.g. TextBlock, FlowDocument etc.), using VisualTreeHelper will throw an exception.

Here's an alternative that falls back to the logical tree if necessary:

http://www.hardcodet.net/2009/06/finding-elements-in-wpf-tree-both-ways


I wanted to add a comment but I have less than 50 pts so I can only "Answer". Be aware that if you use the "VisualTreeHelper" method to retrieve XAML "TextBlock" objects then it will also grab XAML "Button" objects. If you re-initialize the "TextBlock" object by writing to the Textblock.Text parameter then you will no longer be able to change the Button text using the Button.Content parameter. The Button will permanently show the text written to it from the Textblock.Text write action (from when it was retrieved --

foreach (TextBlock tb in FindVisualChildren<TextBlock>(window))
{
// do something with tb here
   tb.Text = ""; //this will overwrite Button.Content and render the 
                 //Button.Content{set} permanently disabled.
}

To work around this, you can try using a XAML "TextBox" and add methods (or Events) to mimic a XAMAL Button. XAML "TextBox" is not gathered by a search for "TextBlock".


I adapted @Bryce Kahle's answer to follow @Mathias Lykkegaard Lorenzen's suggestion and use LogicalTreeHelper.

Seems to work okay. ;)

public static IEnumerable<T> FindLogicalChildren<T> ( DependencyObject depObj ) where T : DependencyObject
{
    if( depObj != null )
    {
        foreach( object rawChild in LogicalTreeHelper.GetChildren( depObj ) )
        {
            if( rawChild is DependencyObject )
            {
                DependencyObject child = (DependencyObject)rawChild;
                if( child is T )
                {
                    yield return (T)child;
                }

                foreach( T childOfChild in FindLogicalChildren<T>( child ) ) 
                {
                    yield return childOfChild;
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

(It still won't check tab controls or Grids inside GroupBoxes as mentioned by @Benjamin Berry & @David R respectively.) (Also followed @noonand's suggestion & removed the redundant child != null)


I found that the line, VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(depObj);, used in several examples above does not return a non-zero count for GroupBoxes, in particular, where the GroupBox contains a Grid, and the Grid contains children elements. I believe this may be because the GroupBox is not allowed to contain more than one child, and this is stored in its Content property. There is no GroupBox.Children type of property. I am sure I did not do this very efficiently, but I modified the first "FindVisualChildren" example in this chain as follows:

public IEnumerable<T> FindVisualChildren<T>(DependencyObject depObj) where T : DependencyObject 
{ 
    if (depObj != null) 
    {
        int depObjCount = VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(depObj); 
        for (int i = 0; i <depObjCount; i++) 
        { 
            DependencyObject child = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(depObj, i); 
            if (child != null && child is T) 
            { 
                yield return (T)child; 
            }

            if (child is GroupBox)
            {
                GroupBox gb = child as GroupBox;
                Object gpchild = gb.Content;
                if (gpchild is T)
                {
                    yield return (T)child; 
                    child = gpchild as T;
                }
            }

            foreach (T childOfChild in FindVisualChildren<T>(child)) 
            { 
                yield return childOfChild; 
            } 
        }
    }
} 

Small change to the recursion to so you can for example find the child tab control of a tab control.

    public static DependencyObject FindInVisualTreeDown(DependencyObject obj, Type type)
    {
        if (obj != null)
        {
            for (int i = 0; i < VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(obj); i++)
            {
                DependencyObject child = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(obj, i);

                if (child.GetType() == type)
                {
                    return child;
                }

                DependencyObject childReturn = FindInVisualTreeDown(child, type);
                if (childReturn != null)
                {
                    return childReturn;
                }
            }
        }

        return null;
    }

The accepted answer returns the discovered elements more or less unordered, by following the first child branch as deep as possible, while yielding the discovered elements along the way, before backtracking and repeating the steps for not yet parsed tree branches.

If you need the descendent elements in descending order, where the direct children will be yielded first, then their children and so on, the following algorithm will work:

public static IEnumerable<T> GetVisualDescendants<T>(DependencyObject parent, bool applyTemplates = false)
    where T : DependencyObject
{
    if (parent == null || !(child is Visual || child is Visual3D))
        yield break;

    var descendants = new Queue<DependencyObject>();
    descendants.Enqueue(parent);

    while (descendants.Count > 0)
    {
        var currentDescendant = descendants.Dequeue();

        if (applyTemplates)
            (currentDescendant as FrameworkElement)?.ApplyTemplate();

        for (var i = 0; i < VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(currentDescendant); i++)
        {
            var child = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(currentDescendant, i);

            if (child is Visual || child is Visual3D)
                descendants.Enqueue(child);

            if (child is T foundObject)
                yield return foundObject;
        }
    }
}

The resulting elements will be ordered from nearest to farthest. This will be useful e.g. if you are looking for the nearest child element of some type and condition:

var foundElement = GetDescendants<StackPanel>(someElement)
                       .FirstOrDefault(o => o.SomeProperty == SomeState);

I found it easier without Visual Tree Helpers:

foreach (UIElement element in MainWindow.Children) {
    if (element is TextBox) { 
        if ((element as TextBox).Text != "")
        {
            //Do something
        }
    }
};

My version for C++/CLI

template < class T, class U >
bool Isinst(U u) 
{
    return dynamic_cast< T >(u) != nullptr;
}

template <typename T>
    T FindVisualChildByType(Windows::UI::Xaml::DependencyObject^ element, Platform::String^ name)
    {
        if (Isinst<T>(element) && dynamic_cast<Windows::UI::Xaml::FrameworkElement^>(element)->Name == name)
        {
            return dynamic_cast<T>(element);
        }
        int childcount = Windows::UI::Xaml::Media::VisualTreeHelper::GetChildrenCount(element);
        for (int i = 0; i < childcount; ++i)
        {
            auto childElement = FindVisualChildByType<T>(Windows::UI::Xaml::Media::VisualTreeHelper::GetChild(element, i), name);
            if (childElement != nullptr)
            {
                return childElement;
            }
        }
        return nullptr;
    };

Use the helper classes VisualTreeHelper or LogicalTreeHelper depending on which tree you're interested in. They both provide methods for getting the children of an element (although the syntax differs a little). I often use these classes for finding the first occurrence of a specific type, but you could easily modify it to find all objects of that type:

public static DependencyObject FindInVisualTreeDown(DependencyObject obj, Type type)
{
    if (obj != null)
    {
        if (obj.GetType() == type)
        {
            return obj;
        }

        for (int i = 0; i < VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(obj); i++)
        {
            DependencyObject childReturn = FindInVisualTreeDown(VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(obj, i), type);
            if (childReturn != null)
            {
                return childReturn;
            }
        }
    }

    return null;
}

For some reason, none of the answers posted here helped me to get all controls of given type contained in a given control in my MainWindow. I needed to find all menu items in one menu to iterate them. They were not all direct descendants of the menu, so i managed to collect only the first lilne of them using any of the code above. This extension method is my solution for the problem for anyone who will continue to read all the way down here.

public static void FindVisualChildren<T>(this ICollection<T> children, DependencyObject depObj) where T : DependencyObject
    {
        if (depObj != null)
        {
            var brethren = LogicalTreeHelper.GetChildren(depObj);
            var brethrenOfType = LogicalTreeHelper.GetChildren(depObj).OfType<T>();
            foreach (var childOfType in brethrenOfType)
            {
                children.Add(childOfType);
            }

            foreach (var rawChild in brethren)
            {
                if (rawChild is DependencyObject)
                {
                    var child = rawChild as DependencyObject;
                    FindVisualChildren<T>(children, child);
                }
            }
        }
    }

Hope it helps.


For this and more use cases you can add flowing extension method to your library:

 public static List<DependencyObject> FindAllChildren(this DependencyObject dpo, Predicate<DependencyObject> predicate)
    {
        var results = new List<DependencyObject>();
        if (predicate == null)
            return results;


        for (int i = 0; i < VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(dpo); i++)
        {
            var child = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(dpo, i);
            if (predicate(child))
                results.Add(child);

            var subChildren = child.FindAllChildren(predicate);
            results.AddRange(subChildren);
        }
        return results;
    }

Example for your case:

 var children = dpObject.FindAllChildren(child => child is TextBox);

@Bryce, really nice answer.

VB.NET version:

Public Shared Iterator Function FindVisualChildren(Of T As DependencyObject)(depObj As DependencyObject) As IEnumerable(Of T)
    If depObj IsNot Nothing Then
        For i As Integer = 0 To VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(depObj) - 1
            Dim child As DependencyObject = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(depObj, i)
            If child IsNot Nothing AndAlso TypeOf child Is T Then
                Yield DirectCast(child, T)
            End If
            For Each childOfChild As T In FindVisualChildren(Of T)(child)
                Yield childOfChild
            Next
        Next
    End If
End Function

Usage (this disables all TextBoxes in a window):

        For Each tb As TextBox In FindVisualChildren(Of TextBox)(Me)
          tb.IsEnabled = False
        Next

This is the easiest way:

IEnumerable<myType> collection = control.Children.OfType<myType>(); 

where control is the root element of the window.


Here is yet another, compact version, with the generics syntax:

    public static IEnumerable<T> FindLogicalChildren<T>(DependencyObject obj) where T : DependencyObject
    {
        if (obj != null) {
            if (obj is T)
                yield return obj as T;

            foreach (DependencyObject child in LogicalTreeHelper.GetChildren(obj).OfType<DependencyObject>()) 
                foreach (T c in FindLogicalChildren<T>(child)) 
                    yield return c;
        }
    }

To get a list of all childs of a specific type you can use:

private static IEnumerable<DependencyObject> FindInVisualTreeDown(DependencyObject obj, Type type)
{
    if (obj != null)
    {
        if (obj.GetType() == type)
        {
            yield return obj;
        }

        for (var i = 0; i < VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(obj); i++)
        {
            foreach (var child in FindInVisualTreeDown(VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(obj, i), type))
            {
                if (child != null)
                {
                    yield return child;
                }
            }
        }
    }

    yield break;
}

And this is how it works upwards

    private T FindParent<T>(DependencyObject item, Type StopAt) where T : class
    {
        if (item is T)
        {
            return item as T;
        }
        else
        {
            DependencyObject _parent = VisualTreeHelper.GetParent(item);
            if (_parent == null)
            {
                return default(T);
            }
            else
            {
                Type _type = _parent.GetType();
                if (StopAt != null)
                {
                    if ((_type.IsSubclassOf(StopAt) == true) || (_type == StopAt))
                    {
                        return null;
                    }
                }

                if ((_type.IsSubclassOf(typeof(T)) == true) || (_type == typeof(T)))
                {
                    return _parent as T;
                }
                else
                {
                    return FindParent<T>(_parent, StopAt);
                }
            }
        }
    }

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