How can I cancel the INamespace­Walk::Walk operation?

We saw that you can stop a INamespace­Walk::Walk operation by returning a COM error code from the Enter­Folder or Found­Item callback.

So let's do that in order to add a timeout to the namespace walk operation. At each callback, we'll check how much time has elapsed since the operation started, and if it's too long, then we return HRESULT_FROM_WIN32(ERROR_CANCELLED).

#define STRICT
#include <windows.h>
#include <shlobj.h>
#include <wrl/client.h>
#include <wrl/implements.h>
#include <stdio.h> // Horrors! Mixing stdio and C++!

namespace wrl = Microsoft::WRL;

class WalkCallback : public wrl::RuntimeClass<
  // INamespaceWalkCB
  IFACEMETHODIMP FoundItem(IShellFolder *,
   PCUITEMID_CHILD) override
   { m_itemCount++; return TimeoutStatus(); }

  IFACEMETHODIMP EnterFolder(IShellFolder *,
   PCUITEMID_CHILD) override
   { m_folderCount++; return TimeoutStatus(); }

  IFACEMETHODIMP LeaveFolder(IShellFolder *,
   PCUITEMID_CHILD) override { return S_OK; }

  IFACEMETHODIMP InitializeProgressDialog(PWSTR *ppszTitle,
    PWSTR *ppszCancel) override
    { *ppszTitle = nullptr; *ppszCancel = nullptr;
      return E_NOTIMPL; }

  int ItemCount() const { return m_itemCount; }
  int FolderCount() const { return m_folderCount; }

  bool IsTimedOut()
    { return GetTickCount() - m_startTime > 1000; }

  HRESULT TimeoutStatus()
    { return IsTimedOut() ?

  DWORD m_startTime = GetTickCount();
  int m_itemCount = 0;
  int m_folderCount = 0;

Our callback object implements INamespace­Walk­CB by tallying the number of items and folders it encounters. When we find an item or folder, we increment the appropriate counter and check whether we have reached the timeout. If so, we return HRESULT_FROM_WIN32(ERROR_CANCELLED) to stop the operation.

Let's take it for a spin.

int __cdecl wmain(int argc, PWSTR argv[])
  CCoInitialize coinit;

  wrl::ComPtr<INamespaceWalk> walk;
  CoCreateInstance(CLSID_NamespaceWalker, nullptr,

  wrl::ComPtr<IShellItem> root;
  SHCreateItemFromParsingName(argv[1], nullptr,

  auto callback = wrl::Make<WalkCallback>();

  HRESULT hr = walk->Walk(root.Get(), NSWF_DEFAULT,
    100, callback.Get());

  printf("Walk completed with result 0x%08x\n", hr);
  printf("Found %d items and %d folders\n",
   callback->ItemCount(), callback->FolderCount());

  return 0;

When I ran this on a small directory tree, I got

Walk completed with result 0x00000000
Found 43 items and 6 folders

The walk completed in less than one second, so the walk operation completed with S_OK.

I repeated the exercise on C:\Users and got

Walk completed with result 0x80070005
Found 0 items and 2 folders

The walk operation encountered an E_ACCESSDENIED error before one second elapsed.

Next, I tried it with my own home directory.

Walk completed with result 0x800704c7
Found 3940 items and 2990 folders

It found 3940 items and 2990 folders before it ran out of time.

Next time, we'll dig a little bit deeper into cancellation.

Comments (9)
  1. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    Obvious. We talked about this solution in the comments for yesterday’s entry. Anyway, in computer programming, anything is obvious once you know all the pieces you have to connect.

  2. Joshua says:

    I think I need to dig up and see what this code does with it.

    1. Antonio Rodríguez says:

      If you mean a prefabricated zip file with an infinite loop of nested directories, then the answer is easy: either the operation gets aborted after it reaches an internal recursion limit, or the program fails with a stack overflow. Which one happens first is irrelevant. This is one of these cases where if you have to ask the limit, you are doing something wrong.

  3. florian says:

    Really? Each of the 2990 folders in your home directory harbors an average of 1.3 files? Or wait, will FoundItem() also count folders, dropping the average to 0.32? Are you keeping notes in folder names? Oh dear, I feel so disorganized, right now …

    1. Brian_EE says:

      Some folders may only contain sub-folders and no files.

      1. florian says:

        You mean, for notes longer than MAX_PATH … ?

    2. Antonio Rodríguez says:

      What makes you suppose these are actual results from Raymond’s computer, and not something made up? IMHO, the second option is more probable…

      1. Joshua says:

        .nuget comes really early in NTFS and has such a distribution.

      2. florian says:

        “Next, I tried it with my own home directory.”

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