System.Console Class

Represents the standard input, output, and error streams for console applications. This class cannot be inherited.

See Also: Console Members


public static class Console


The console is an operating system window where users interact with the operating system or with a text-based console application by entering text input through the computer keyboard, and by reading text output from the computer terminal. For example, in the Windows operating system, the console is called the Command Prompt window and accepts MS-DOS commands. The Console class provides basic support for applications that read characters from, and write characters to, the console.

For information about developing with the Console class, see the following sections:

Console I/O Streams

When a console application starts, the operating system automatically associates three I/O streams with the console: standard input stream, standard output stream, and standard error output stream. Your application can read user input from the standard input stream; write normal data to the standard output stream; and write error data to the standard error output stream. These streams are presented to your application as the values of the Console.In, Console.Out, and Console.Error properties.

By default, the value of the Console.In property is a System.IO.TextReader object, and the values of the Console.Out and Console.Error properties are System.IO.TextWriter objects. However, you can set these properties to streams that do not represent the console; for example, you can set these properties to streams that represent files. To redirect the standard input, standard output, or standard error stream, call the Console.SetIn(System.IO.TextReader), Console.SetOut(System.IO.TextWriter), or Console.SetError(System.IO.TextWriter) method, respectively. I/O operations that use these streams are synchronized, which means that multiple threads can read from, or write to, the streams.


Do not use the Console class to display output in unattended applications, such as server applications. Calls to methods such as erload:System.Console.Write and erload:System.Console.WriteLine have no effect in GUI applications.

Console class members that work normally when the underlying stream is directed to a console might throw an exception if the stream is redirected, for example, to a file. Program your application to catch System.IO.IOException exceptions if you redirect a standard stream. You can also use the Console.IsOutputRedirected, Console.IsInputRedirected, and Console.IsErrorRedirected properties to determine whether a standard stream is redirected before performing an operation that throws an System.IO.IOException exception.

It is sometimes useful to explicitly call the members of the stream objects represented by the Console.In, Console.Out, and Console.Error properties. For example, by default, the Console.ReadLine method reads input from the standard input stream. Similarly, the Console.WriteLine method writes data to the standard output stream, and the data is followed by the default line termination string, which is a carriage return and line feed ("\r\n"). However, the Console class does not provide a corresponding method to write data to the standard error output stream, or a property to change the line termination string for data written to that stream.

You can solve this problem by setting the System.IO.TextWriter.NewLine property of the Console.Out or Console.Error property to another line termination string. For example, the following C# statement sets the line termination string for the standard error output stream to two carriage return and line feed sequences:

Console.Error.NewLine = "\r\n\r\n";

You can then explicitly call the erload:System.IO.TextWriter.WriteLine method of the error output stream object, as in the following C# statement:


Screen Buffer and Console Window

Two closely related features of the console are the screen buffer and the console window. Text is actually read from or written to streams owned by the console, but appear to be read from or written to an area owned by the console called the screen buffer. The screen buffer is an attribute of the console, and is organized as a rectangular grid of rows and columns where each grid intersection, or character cell, can contain a character. Each character has its own foreground color, and each character cell has its own background color.

The screen buffer is viewed through a rectangular region called the console window. The console window is another attribute of the console; it is not the console itself, which is an operating system window. The console window is arranged in rows and columns, is less than or equal to the size of the screen buffer, and can be moved to view different areas of the underlying screen buffer. If the screen buffer is larger than the console window, the console automatically displays scroll bars so the console window can be repositioned over the screen buffer area.

A cursor indicates the screen buffer position where text is currently read or written. The cursor can be hidden or made visible, and its height can be changed. If the cursor is visible, the console window position is moved automatically so the cursor is always in view.

The origin for character cell coordinates in the screen buffer is the upper left corner, and the positions of the cursor and the console window are measured relative to that origin. Use zero-based indexes to specify positions; that is, specify the topmost row as row 0, and the leftmost column as column 0. The maximum value for the row and column indexes is short.MaxValue.

Unicode Support for the Console

In general, the console reads input and writes output by using the current console code page, which the system locale defines by default. A code page can handle only a subset of available Unicode characters, so if you try to display characters that are not mapped by a particular code page, the console won't be able to display all characters or represent them accurately. The following example illustrates this problem. It tries to display the characters of the Cyrillic alphabet from U+0410 to U+044F to the console. If you run the example on a system that uses console code page 437, each character is replaced by a question mark (?), because Cyrillic characters do not map to the characters in code page 437.

code reference: System.Console.Class#1

In addition to supporting code pages, the Console class supports UTF-8 encoding with the System.Text.UTF8Encoding class. Beginning with the .NET Framework 4.5, the Console class also supports UTF-16 encoding with the System.Text.UnicodeEncoding class. To display Unicode characters to the console. you set the Console.OutputEncoding property to either System.Text.UTF8Encoding or System.Text.UnicodeEncoding.

Support for Unicode characters requires the encoder to recognize a particular Unicode character, and also requires a font that has the glyphs needed to render that character. To successfully display Unicode characters to the console, the console font must be set to a non-raster or TrueType font such as Consolas or Lucida Console. The following example shows how you can programmatically change the font from a raster font to Lucida Console.

code reference: System.Console.Class.Unsafe#3

However, TrueType fonts can display only a subset of glyphs. For example, the Lucida Console font displays only 643 of the approximately 64,000 available characters from U+0021 to U+FB02. To see which characters a particular font supports, open the Fonts applet in Control Panel, choose the Find a character option, and choose the font whose character set you'd like to examine in the Font list of the Character Map window.

Windows uses font linking to display glyphs that are not available in a particular font. For information about font linking to display additional character sets, see tp:// Linked fonts are defined in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontLink\SystemLink subkey of the registry. Each entry associated with this subkey corresponds to the name of a base font, and its value is a string array that defines the font files and the fonts that are linked to the base font. Each member of the array defines a linked font and takes the form font-file-name,font-name. The following example illustrates how you can programmatically define a linked font named SimSun found in a font file named simsun.ttc that displays Simplified Han characters.

code reference: System.Console.Class#2

Unicode support for the console has the following limitations:

The following example displays a range of Unicode characters to the console. The example accepts three command-line parameters: the start of the range to display, the end of the range to display, and whether to use the current console encoding (false) or UTF-16 encoding (true). It assumes that the console is using a TrueType font.

code reference: System.Console.Class#4

Common Operations

The Console class contains the following methods for reading console input and writing console output:

The Console class also contains methods and properties to perform the following operations:

Thread Safety

This type is safe for multithreaded operations.


The following example demonstrates the use of basic Console input and output functions. The program waits for the user to enter a name.

C# Example

using System;

public class ConsoleTest {
   public static void Main() {       
      Console.Write("Hello ");
      Console.Write("What is your name: ");
      string name = Console.ReadLine();
      Console.Write("Hello, ");

The output for a user who entered the name "Fred" is

Hello World!
What is your name: Fred
Hello, Fred!


Namespace: System
Assembly: mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)
Assembly Versions: 1.0.5000.0,,