Handling the Enter Key On a Node in a TreeView in C#

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Posted on May 08, 2011 11:51 AM in Programming
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I was surprised to find that hitting the Enter key on a node in a TreeView control in C# isn't treated like either a single- or double-click event. I suppose it's a good thing, from a developer's perspective, since it gives you maximum flexibility on handling the different types of input. However, it does require more work (and code) to make sure your keyboard- and mouse-driven input is treated equally, if that's what you desire.

I wanted my C# application to mimick behavior I'm used to in other applications, where single-clicking the mouse is the same as "browsing" the node with the arrow keys. You can go from one node to the next without firing off any selections. On a double-click, you are explicitly choosing that node, either to expand its children, see its associated contents (e.g. in another pane), or both. I implemented that behavior by handling the typical NodeMouseClick and NodeMouseDoubleClick events.

However, also mimicking behavior I'm used to in other applications, I wished to have the Enter (or Return) key behave the same as a double-click. To do so, I had to handle KeyPress events on the TreeView control itself, making sure to check that a node actually was selected prior to triggering my subsequent behavior. The code ended up looking something like the following:

// handling for when a key is pressed when the treeview is active
private void treeView_KeyPress(object sender, KeyPressEventArgs e)
  // if there is a currently selected node
  if (null != treeView.SelectedNode)
    // if the Enter key was pressed
    if ((char)Keys.Return == e.KeyChar)
      // do stuff

Since presumably one could hit Enter before any node was selected in the TreeView, it's a good idea to make sure there is a selected node before doing anything else. Checking for the Enter key input is as simple as converting the Keys.Return constant to a char and then comparing it to the key the user pressed, e.KeyChar.

This is pretty straightforward stuff once you figure it out, but I didn't see many existing examples online and kinda had to figure it out on my own (often the best way to learn), so I figured I'd post it here in case it saves someone a few minutes of their time.


Jan Eduardsen on August 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM:

Thanks Bernie,
Saved me some time, your example works well.

Keep up the good work, we will be checking your site again :-) Have a nice weekend.

Best Jan


Peter Brightman on September 23, 2015 at 6:00 AM:

Thanks for this code. It helped me to get along.


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