The WaitForSingleObject function returns when one of the following occurs:

DWORD WaitForSingleObject(
  HANDLE hHandle,        // handle to object to wait for
  DWORD dwMilliseconds   // time-out interval in milliseconds


Handle to the object. For a list of the object types whose handles can be specified, see the following Remarks section.

Windows NT: The handle must have SYNCHRONIZE access. For more information, see Standard Access Rights.

Specifies the time-out interval, in milliseconds. The function returns if the interval elapses, even if the object's state is nonsignaled. If dwMilliseconds is zero, the function tests the object's state and returns immediately. If dwMilliseconds is INFINITE, the function's time-out interval never elapses.

Return Values

If the function succeeds, the return value indicates the event that caused the function to return. This value can be one of the following.

Value Meaning
WAIT_ABANDONED The specified object is a mutex object that was not released by the thread that owned the mutex object before the owning thread terminated. Ownership of the mutex object is granted to the calling thread, and the mutex is set to nonsignaled.
WAIT_OBJECT_0 The state of the specified object is signaled.
WAIT_TIMEOUT The time-out interval elapsed, and the object's state is nonsignaled.

If the function fails, the return value is WAIT_FAILED. To get extended error information, call GetLastError.


The WaitForSingleObject function checks the current state of the specified object. If the object's state is nonsignaled, the calling thread enters an efficient wait state. The thread consumes very little processor time while waiting for the object state to become signaled or the time-out interval to elapse.

Before returning, a wait function modifies the state of some types of synchronization objects. Modification occurs only for the object whose signaled state caused the function to return. For example, the count of a semaphore object is decreased by one.

The WaitForSingleObject function can wait for the following objects:

For more information, see Synchronization Objects.

Use caution when calling the wait functions and code that directly or indirectly creates windows. If a thread creates any windows, it must process messages. Message broadcasts are sent to all windows in the system. A thread that uses a wait function with no time-out interval may cause the system to become deadlocked. Two examples of code that indirectly creates windows are DDE and COM CoInitialize. Therefore, if you have a thread that creates windows, use MsgWaitForMultipleObjects or MsgWaitForMultipleObjectsEx, rather than WaitForSingleObject.

Windows CE: Windows CE does not support waiting for semaphores, change notification objects, console input, and timers.

Waiting on an invalid handle causes WaitForSingleObject to return WAIT_FAILED.


  Windows NT: Requires version 3.1 or later.
  Windows: Requires Windows 95 or later.
  Windows CE: Requires version 1.0 or later.
  Header: Declared in winbase.h.
  Import Library: Use kernel32.lib.

See Also

Synchronization Overview, Synchronization Functions, CancelWaitableTimer, CreateEvent, CreateFile, CreateMutex, CreateProcess, CreateRemoteThread, CreateSemaphore, CreateThread, CreateWaitableTimer, FindFirstChangeNotification, GetStdHandle, MsgWaitForMultipleObjects, MsgWaitForMultipleObjectsEx, OpenEvent, OpenMutex, OpenProcess, OpenSemaphore, OpenWaitableTimer, PulseEvent, ResetEvent, SetEvent, SetWaitableTimer