Win32::CtrlGUI - a Module for controlling Win32 GUIs based on Win32::Setupsup


  use Win32::CtrlGUI

  my $window = Win32::CtrlGUI::wait_for_window(qr/Notepad/);


Win32::CtrlGUI makes it much easier to use Win32::Setupsup to control Win32 GUIs. It relies completely on Win32::Setupsup for its underlying interaction with the GUI, but it provides a very powerful and somewhat user-friendly OO interface to make things easier.

There are a number of modules in the system, so a brief overview will be provided to make it easier to understand.


This module provides a set of methods for identifying and enumerating windows.


Win32::CtrlGUI::Window objects represent GUI windows. Internally, they simply store the window handle. Stringification is overloaded to return the window text, whereas numification and numeric comparison are overloaded to operate on the handle. Friendlier versions of the methods applicable to windows are provided. Finally, a send_keys method is provided that uses a (IMHO) friendlier syntax (it's based on that used by WinBatch). Instead of sending the string \\ALT+\\f\\ALT-\\x, one sends !fx. Instead of sending \\RET\\, one sends {ENTER} or {RET}. Instead of sending \\DOWN\\\\DOWN\\\\DOWN\\, one can send {DOWN 3}.


The Win32::CtrlGUI::State hierarchy of modules provides for a very powerful state machine system for responding to windows and executing actions as a result. If you're using Win32::CtrlGUI to script any sort of process, I strongly encourage you to look at the documentation in Win32::CtrlGUI::State. Yes, it's complicated. But so is writing your own code to deal with optional windows, sequence forking, and so forth. For now, there isn't much documentation. See the script for some ideas, and beyond that, feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Also, there is a Tk debugger now. It requires, of course, that Tk be installed. I haven't done much testing to see how it behaves on anything other than Perl 5.6.0 with Tk 800.022. Take a look at for an example.


The Win32::CtrlGUI::Criteria hierarchy supports the Win32::CtrlGUI::State hierarchy by providing an OO interface to state criteria.

Installation instructions

Win32::CtrlGUI depends on Win32::Setupsup, available from, although you might want to check that folder to see if there is a more recent version.

If you want to use the Tk debugger/observer, you will need Tk and Win32::API. Both are available from CPAN and via PPM.

Standard Make::Maker approach or just move everything in Win32 into site/lib/Win32.



This method returns a list of Win32::CtrlGUI::Window objects representing the windows currently open. It uses Win32::Setupsup::EnumWindows for the underlying call.


This method waits a for a window matching the passed criteria. It accepts three parameters - criteria for the window, criteria for the child window, and a timeout. The last two parameters are optional. If you need to specify a timeout, but don't want to specify criteria for the child window, pass undef as the child window criteria.

Criteria can be one of three things:

  • A string. In this case, the string will be matched case insensitively against the window title.

  • A regular expression. These should be passed using the qr/ . . . / syntax.

  • A code reference (i.e. sub { . . . }). Code references will have access to a Win32::CtrlGUI::Window object in $_ and should return true or false.

These three formats can be used both for the window and the child window criteria. In the special case of a string match on the window and no child window criteria, Win32::Setupsup::WaitForWindow will be used. In all other cases, a busy loop is executed using the default wait interval in $Win32::CtrlGUI::wait_intvl (specified in milliseconds).

The call will return a Win32::CtrlGUI::Window object if successful or undef if it timesout. If the timeout value is unspecified or negative, it waits indefinitely. Timeout values are specified in seconds (fractional seconds are allowed).


This method returns a list of all windows matching the passed criteria. Same criteria format as for wait_for_window. Instead of a timeout, the third parameter is the optional justone parameter. If it is true, get_windows returns only the first window to match the criteria. The returned windows are, of course, Win32::CtrlGUI::Window objects.