#204 – Detecting Key Presses in a WPF Window

You can detect key presses in a class that derives from Window by overriding the OnKeyDown and OnKeyUp methods (which in turn fire the KeyDown and KeyUp events).  

These key down/up methods are invoked in addition to any control that has focus and might also provide key down/up methods.

For example, a TextBox also has KeyDown and KeyUp events that are fired.  If a user presses a key while a TextBox has focus, the sequence of events is:

  • KeyDown in TextBox
  • KeyDown in Window
  • KeyUp in TextBox
  • KeyUp in Window

Here’s an example:

    public partial class MainWindow : Window
        private static Key[] vowels = { Key.A, Key.E, Key.I, Key.O, Key.U };

        protected override void OnKeyDown(KeyEventArgs e)

            if ((vowels.Contains(e.Key)) && (!e.IsRepeat))
                lblVowels.Content = lblVowels.Content + e.Key.ToString();

        protected override void OnKeyUp(KeyEventArgs e)

            if (vowels.Contains(e.Key))
                lblVowels.Content = lblVowels.Content + ",";