SDL Wiki
(This is the documentation for SDL3, which is under heavy development and the API is changing! SDL2 is the current stable version!)


Get the SDL surface associated with the window.

Header File

Defined in SDL_video.h, but apps should only #include <SDL3/SDL.h>!


SDL_Surface* SDL_GetWindowSurface(SDL_Window *window);

Function Parameters

window the window to query

Return Value

Returns the surface associated with the window, or NULL on failure; call SDL_GetError() for more information.


A new surface will be created with the optimal format for the window, if necessary. This surface will be freed when the window is destroyed. Do not free this surface.

This surface will be invalidated if the window is resized. After resizing a window this function must be called again to return a valid surface.

You may not combine this with 3D or the rendering API on this window.

This function is affected by SDL_HINT_FRAMEBUFFER_ACCELERATION.


This function is available since SDL 3.0.0.

Code Examples

#include "SDL.h" // include SDL header

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    SDL_Surface *screen; // even with SDL2, we can still bring ancient code back
    SDL_Window *window;
    SDL_Surface *image;

    SDL_Init(SDL_INIT_VIDEO); // init video

    // create the window like normal
    window = SDL_CreateWindow("SDL2 Example", SDL_WINDOWPOS_UNDEFINED, SDL_WINDOWPOS_UNDEFINED, 640, 480, 0);

    // but instead of creating a renderer, we can draw directly to the screen
    screen = SDL_GetWindowSurface(window);

    // let's just show some classic code for reference
    image = SDL_LoadBMP("box.bmp"); // loads image
    SDL_BlitSurface(image, NULL, screen, NULL); // blit it to the screen

    // this works just like SDL_Flip() in SDL 1.2

    // show image for 2 seconds
    return 0;

See Also

CategoryAPI, CategoryAPIFunction, CategoryVideo

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