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OpenMutex info  Overview  Group

The OpenMutex function returns a handle of an existing named mutex object.

HANDLE OpenMutex(

    DWORD dwDesiredAccess,

// access flag

    BOOL bInheritHandle,

// inherit flag

    LPCTSTR lpName 

// pointer to mutex-object name



Specifies the requested access to the mutex object. For systems that support object security, the function fails if the security descriptor of the specified object does not permit the requested access for the calling process.

This parameter can be any combination of the following values:




Specifies all possible access flags for the mutex object.


Windows NT only: Enables use of the mutex handle in any of the wait functions to acquire ownership of the mutex, or in the ReleaseMutex function to release ownership.

Specifies whether the returned handle is inheritable. If TRUE, a process created by the CreateProcess function can inherit the handle; otherwise, the handle cannot be inherited.
Points to a null-terminated string that names the mutex to be opened. Name comparisons are case sensitive.

Return Values

If the function succeeds, the return value is a handle of the mutex object.

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


The OpenMutex function enables multiple processes to open handles of the same mutex object. The function succeeds only if some process has already created the mutex by using the CreateMutex function. The calling process can use the returned handle in any function that requires a handle of a mutex object, such as the wait functions, subject to the limitations of the access specified in the dwDesiredAccess parameter.

The handle can be duplicated by using the DuplicateHandle function. Use the CloseHandle function to close the handle. The system closes the handle automatically when the process terminates. The mutex object is destroyed when its last handle has been closed.

See Also

CloseHandle, CreateMutex, CreateProcess, DuplicateHandle, ReleaseMutex 

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