How to change the foreground and background text colors in a console window in Visual Basic .NET or in Visual Basic 2005

This article was previously published under Q319234
For a Microsoft C# .NET version of this article, see 319883.


This step-by-step article describes how to change the foreground and background colors of the text that is written to the console window by using Visual Basic .NET or Visual Basic 2005.

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To change the foreground and background colors of text that appears in a console program in Visual Basic .NET or in Visual Basic, use the SetConsoleTextAttribute Win32 function. This function sets the attributes of characters that are written to the screen buffer.

If you change these attributes at run time, the changes are valid while the console is open. This means that if you run the program from a command line in a console window that is already running, changes to the text attributes are valid for that console window for as long as the console window is open (even after your program quits). Therefore, a program must restore the original color attributes before the program ends. If you close and then reopen the console window, the attributes are reset to their default values.

This article demonstrates how to save the original settings of the console when the program starts, how to modify those color settings, and how to restore the colors to their original values as the program ends.

You can obtain the text attributes of the console window with the GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo function. This function fills an instance of the CONSOLE_SCREEN_BUFFER_INFO structure with information about the current output buffer information. The wAttribute parameter of this structure contains the color information for that output buffer. You can store this information and use it later to restore the colors:
   GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo(hConsoleHandle, ConsoleInfo)   OriginalColors = ConsoleInfo.wAttributes				
The class that is used in this example has two methods. The TextColor method takes an integer as its parameter. This parameter contains the information that is used to define the foreground and background text colors. You can use any color combination that you can create by combining red, green, and blue:
      Public Sub TextColor(ByVal Colors As Integer)         SetConsoleTextAttribute(hConsoleHandle, Colors)      End Sub				
You use the ResetColor method to set the console's output buffer attributes back to the original values that you captured when the program began:
      Public Sub ResetColor()         SetConsoleTextAttribute(hConsoleHandle, OriginalColors)      End Sub				
For more information about the functions that are used in this example, see the "References" section in this article.

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Step-by-Step Demonstration

  1. Create a new Visual Basic .NET or Visual Basic 2005 console application.
  2. Add a new class to your program by right-clicking your project in Solution Explorer, and then clicking Add Class on the Add menu.

    Note In Visual Studio 2005, click Class on the Add menu.
  3. Paste the following code to create the class. Make sure to replace all of the previous code in the class.
       Imports System.Runtime.InteropServices   Public Class Class1      Private hConsoleHandle As IntPtr      Private ConsoleOutputLocation As COORD      Private ConsoleInfo As CONSOLE_SCREEN_BUFFER_INFO      Private OriginalColors As Integer      Private Const STD_OUTPUT_HANDLE As Integer = &HFFFFFFF5      Private Declare Auto Function GetStdHandle Lib "kernel32.dll" (ByVal nStdHandle As Integer) As IntPtr      Private Declare Auto Function GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo Lib "kernel32.dll" (ByVal hConsoleOutput As IntPtr, _                                                                       ByRef lpConsoleScreenBufferInfo As CONSOLE_SCREEN_BUFFER_INFO) As Integer      Private Declare Auto Function SetConsoleTextAttribute Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hConsoleOutput As IntPtr, ByVal wAttributes As Integer) As Long      Public Enum Foreground         Blue = &H1         Green = &H2         Red = &H4         Intensity = &H8      End Enum      Public Enum Background         Blue = &H10         Green = &H20         Red = &H40         Intensity = &H80      End Enum      <StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential)> _      Private Structure COORD         Dim X As Short         Dim Y As Short      End Structure      <StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential)> _      Private Structure SMALL_RECT         Dim Left As Short         Dim Top As Short         Dim Right As Short         Dim Bottom As Short      End Structure      <StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential)> _      Private Structure CONSOLE_SCREEN_BUFFER_INFO         Dim dwSize As COORD         Dim dwCursorPosition As COORD         Dim wAttributes As Integer         Dim srWindow As SMALL_RECT         Dim dwMaximumWindowSize As COORD      End Structure      Sub New()         hConsoleHandle = GetStdHandle(STD_OUTPUT_HANDLE)         GetConsoleScreenBufferInfo(hConsoleHandle, ConsoleInfo)         OriginalColors = ConsoleInfo.wAttributes      End Sub      Public Sub TextColor(ByVal Colors As Integer)         ' Set the text colors.         SetConsoleTextAttribute(hConsoleHandle, Colors)      End Sub      Public Sub ResetColor()         ' Restore the original colors.         SetConsoleTextAttribute(hConsoleHandle, OriginalColors)      End Sub   End Class					
  4. Paste the following code in your module. Make sure to replace all of the previous code in the module.
       Module Module1      Sub Main()         Dim TextChange As New Class1()         Console.WriteLine("Original colors")         Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to start")         Console.ReadLine()         TextChange.TextColor(Class1.Foreground.Green + Class1.Foreground.Intensity)         Console.WriteLine("This text is green")         Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to change the colors again")         Console.ReadLine()         TextChange.TextColor(Class1.Foreground.Red + Class1.Foreground.Blue + Class1.Foreground.Intensity)         Console.WriteLine("Now the text is purple")         Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to change the colors again")         Console.ReadLine()         TextChange.TextColor(Class1.Foreground.Blue + Class1.Foreground.Intensity + Class1.Background.Green + Class1.Background.Intensity)         Console.WriteLine("Now the text is blue and the background is green")         Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to restore everything to the original colors")         Console.ReadLine()         TextChange.ResetColor()         Console.WriteLine("Back to the original colors")         Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to end")         Console.ReadLine()      End Sub   End Module					
  5. Press F5 to compile and run the program.
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Make sure to pass a valid value as the parameter for the TextColor method. You can create a valid value by combining the values that you obtained from the Foreground and Background enumerations as they are defined in the class.

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For additional information about console functions, visit the following Microsoft Web site:For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
319239 HOW TO: Clear the Console Window with Visual Basic .NET
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Artikel-id: 319234 - Laatst bijgewerkt: 11/26/2007 02:20:24 - Revisie: 3.5

  • Microsoft Visual Basic 2005
  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2003 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic .NET 2002 Standard Edition
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