Is there a way to get the string representation of HRESULT value using win API?


Is there a function in win API which can be used to extract the string representation of HRESULT value?

The problem is that not all return values are documented in MSDN, for example ExecuteInDefaultAppDomain() function is not documented to return "0x80070002 - The system cannot find the file specified.", however, it does! Therefore, I was wondering whether there is a function to be used in common case.

asked on Stack Overflow Aug 10, 2011 by khkarens

4 Answers


You can use _com_error:

_com_error err(hr);
LPCTSTR errMsg = err.ErrorMessage();

If you don't want to use _com_error for whatever reason, you can still take a look at its source, and see how it's done.

Don't forget to include the header comdef.h

answered on Stack Overflow Aug 10, 2011 by eran • edited Apr 17, 2017 by Shameel Mohamed

Since c++11, this functionality is built into the standard library:

#include <system_error>

std::string message = std::system_category().message(hr)
answered on Stack Overflow Jun 4, 2019 by Chronial

The Windows API for this is FormatMessage. Here is a link that explains how to do it: Retrieving Error Messages.

For Win32 messages (messages with an HRESULT that begins with 0x8007, which is FACILITY_WIN32), you need to remove the hi order word. For example in the 0x80070002, you need to call FormatMessage with 0x0002.

However, it does not always work for any type of message. And for some specific messages (specific to a technology, a vendor, etc.), you need to load the corresponding resource DLL, which is not always an easy task, because you need to find this DLL.

answered on Stack Overflow Aug 10, 2011 by Simon Mourier • edited Jan 1, 2020 by Simon Mourier

Here's a sample using FormatMessage()

LPTSTR SRUTIL_WinErrorMsg(int nErrorCode, LPTSTR pStr, WORD wLength )
        LPTSTR  szBuffer = pStr;
        int nBufferSize = wLength;

        // prime buffer with error code
        wsprintf( szBuffer, _T("Error code %u"), nErrorCode);

        // if we have a message, replace default with msg.
                NULL, nErrorCode,
                MAKELANGID(LANG_NEUTRAL, SUBLANG_DEFAULT), // Default language
                (LPTSTR) szBuffer,   
                NULL );
    return pStr;
} // End of SRUTIL_WinErrorMsg()
answered on Stack Overflow May 26, 2016 by WebDrive

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