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WinExec info  Overview  Group

The WinExec function runs the specified application.

This function is provided for compatibility with earlier versions of Windows. For Win32-based applications, use the CreateProcess function.

UINT WinExec(

    LPCSTR lpCmdLine,

// address of command line

    UINT uCmdShow 

// window style for new application



Points to a null-terminated character string that contains the command line (filename plus optional parameters) for the application to be executed. If the name of the executable file in the lpCmdLine parameter does not contain a directory path, Windows searches for the executable file in this sequence:
  1. The directory from which the application loaded.

  2. The current directory.

  3. The Windows system directory. The GetSystemDirectory function retrieves the path of this directory.

  4. The Windows directory. The GetWindowsDirectory function retrieves the path of this directory.

  5. The directories listed in the PATH environment variable.
Specifies how a Windows-based application window is to be shown and is used to supply the wShowWindow member of the STARTUPINFO parameter to the CreateProcess function. For a list of the acceptable values, see the description of the nCmdShow parameter of the ShowWindow function. For a non-Windows - based application, the PIF file, if any, for the application determines the window state.

Return Values

If the function succeeds, the return value is greater than 31.

If the function fails, the return value is one of the following error values:




The system is out of memory or resources.


The .EXE file is invalid (non-Win32 .EXE or error in .EXE image).


The specified file was not found.


The specified path was not found.


Win32-based applications should use the CreateProcess function rather than this function. The WinExec function exists in Win32 to provide compatibility with earlier versions of Windows. For more information about how the WinExec function is implemented, see the Remarks section of the LoadModule function.

In Win32, the WinExec function returns when the started process calls the GetMessage function or a time-out limit is reached. To avoid waiting for the time out delay, call the GetMessage function as soon as possible in any process started by a call to WinExec.

See Also

CreateProcess, GetMessage, GetSystemDirectory, GetWindowsDirectory, LoadModule, ShowWindow

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