Quick Info

Windows NT
Import Library
Header File
Platform Notes


The GetWindowsDirectory function retrieves the path of the Windows directory. The Windows directory contains such files as Windows-based applications, initialization files, and Help files.

UINT GetWindowsDirectory(

LPTSTR lpBuffer,
// address of buffer for Windows directory
UINT uSize
// size of directory buffer



Points to the buffer to receive the null-terminated string containing the path. This path does not end with a backslash unless the Windows directory is the root directory. For example, if the Windows directory is named WINDOWS on drive C, the path of the Windows directory retrieved by this function is C:\WINDOWS. If Windows was installed in the root directory of drive C, the path retrieved is C:\.


Specifies the maximum size, in characters, of the buffer specified by the lpBuffer parameter. This value should be set to at least MAX_PATH to allow sufficient room in the buffer for the path.

Return Values

If the function succeeds, the return value is the length, in characters, of the string copied to the buffer, not including the terminating null character.

If the length is greater than the size of the buffer, the return value is the size of the buffer required to hold the path.

If the function fails, the return value is zero. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.


The Windows directory is the directory where an application should store initialization and help files. If the user is running a shared version of Windows, the Windows directory is guaranteed to be private for each user.

If an application creates other files that it wants to store on a per-user basis, it should place them in the directory specified by the HOMEPATH environment variable. This directory will be different for each user, if so specified by an administrator, via the User Manager administrative tool. HOMEPATH always specifies either the user's home directory, which is guaranteed to be private for each user, or a default directory (for example, C:\USERS\DEFAULT) where the user will have all access.

See Also

, GetSystemDirectory

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