Wpf – How to find WPF controls by name or type


I need to search a WPF control hierarchy for controls that match a given name or type. How can I do this?

Best Solution

I combined the template format used by John Myczek and Tri Q's algorithm above to create a findChild Algorithm that can be used on any parent. Keep in mind that recursively searching a tree downwards could be a lengthy process. I've only spot-checked this on a WPF application, please comment on any errors you might find and I'll correct my code.

WPF Snoop is a useful tool in looking at the visual tree - I'd strongly recommend using it while testing or using this algorithm to check your work.

There is a small error in Tri Q's Algorithm. After the child is found, if childrenCount is > 1 and we iterate again we can overwrite the properly found child. Therefore I added a if (foundChild != null) break; into my code to deal with this condition.

/// <summary>
/// Finds a Child of a given item in the visual tree. 
/// </summary>
/// <param name="parent">A direct parent of the queried item.</param>
/// <typeparam name="T">The type of the queried item.</typeparam>
/// <param name="childName">x:Name or Name of child. </param>
/// <returns>The first parent item that matches the submitted type parameter. 
/// If not matching item can be found, 
/// a null parent is being returned.</returns>
public static T FindChild<T>(DependencyObject parent, string childName)
   where T : DependencyObject
  // Confirm parent and childName are valid. 
  if (parent == null) return null;

  T foundChild = null;

  int childrenCount = VisualTreeHelper.GetChildrenCount(parent);
  for (int i = 0; i < childrenCount; i++)
    var child = VisualTreeHelper.GetChild(parent, i);
    // If the child is not of the request child type child
    T childType = child as T;
    if (childType == null)
      // recursively drill down the tree
      foundChild = FindChild<T>(child, childName);

      // If the child is found, break so we do not overwrite the found child. 
      if (foundChild != null) break;
    else if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(childName))
      var frameworkElement = child as FrameworkElement;
      // If the child's name is set for search
      if (frameworkElement != null && frameworkElement.Name == childName)
        // if the child's name is of the request name
        foundChild = (T)child;
      // child element found.
      foundChild = (T)child;

  return foundChild;

Call it like this:

TextBox foundTextBox = 
   UIHelper.FindChild<TextBox>(Application.Current.MainWindow, "myTextBoxName");

Note Application.Current.MainWindow can be any parent window.