Isn’t one OpenFileDialog enough?

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In fact one OpenFileDialog is enough but the .net framework provides two of them:

  1. System.Windows.Forms.OpenFileDialog in System.Windows.Forms.dll
  2. Microsoft.Win32.OpenFileDialog in PresentationFramework.dll (that is WPF)

With such a setup one would use the first for WinForms applications and the second for WPF apps. In fact if you create a WPF application and just type in OpenFileDialog you will get number 2.

But the 2nd one (even if it is part of the newer part of the framework) is an old dialog where the 1st will use the new and shiny Windows 7 dialog on Win7. Just look at the following screenshots.



Only the first class uses the Windows 7 dialog and comes with proper support for Libraries etc. Even if the second shows the Libraries in its left part it does not fully support this new Windows 7 feature.

I have no idea why the WPF class uses the old windows API but it does. For best compatibility with all Windows versions (including 7) you should always use the Winforms Dialog even when building WPF apps! It does not hurt to reference the System.Windows.Forms.dll (it is installed an every machine running the .net framework) and you can use that dialog from WPF without any trouble.

You should only know about one little disadvantage when using the WinForms dialog. It only accepts WinForms as a parent window no WPF windows. To overcome this limitation please read my other article about the IWin32Window interface and how to implement / provide it in WPF at

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