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Posted 4 Apr 2019


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Embedding .PNG Images into a RichEdit Document

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11 Apr 2019CPOL5 min read
Although most Windows programmers have already used the RichEdit Control, many of them are not aware of all its capabilities. One such capability is image embedding.


RichEdit is a Rich Text Format (RTF) handling Control from Microsoft with a long, albeit confusing history of more than 25 years. There are versions shipped with the Operating System and there are versions distributed with Microsoft Office. Versions distributed with the OS, come free because everybody has an OS to start with. So, programmers have at their disposal a Control that is able to produce formatted and aligned text at no additional cost and users are guaranteed to have it as well - hence its popularity.

Image 1


I am not going to digress into the history of the RichEdit Control, no matter how fascinating it might be, but I will list at the bottom of the article all its versions since since Windows NT and Office 2002. I am not going to digress as well into the difficulties and lack of documentation for many of its features - it is indeed difficult to master its intricacies.

This article is a follow up inspired by Murray Sargent's 2012 blog on RichEdit 8.0 Image Support (1). The blog write-up is old, but deserves attention because after searching throughout the internet, I could not find a single example of how things can be implemented.

Until RichEdit 8.0 (let's continue calling it 8.0 to be coherent with the blog), we could insert .BMP images into the RTF text through a complicated OLE mechanism. Although complicated, and never properly documented as well, it does work. Still, .BMP images don't support compression and don't have a transparent alpha channel while RichEdit 8.0 supports .PNG, .JPG and .GIF.

In addition to that, the procedure we are going to use is much less complicated than the OLE-based one for .BMP images. So, you have a reason to stick with me and continue reading.

Using the Code

I decided to roll up my sleeves and make a demo - in Assembly Language (MASM) (2)! I understand most people these days have some difficulties with M(ASM), but I will explain all major steps in order to make it easy to convert to any other programming language - if you wish, of course. 

To build the source code, without changes and with a minimum of fuss and annoyances, you will need the MASM32 SDK downloadable free from

From the two methods mentioned in Murray Sargent's Blog, I opted for the EM_INSERTIMAGE message method.

So, let's start!

1. Create a Dialog Box

The demo starts by creating a Dialog Box from a console application (after hiding the console window which is irrelevant for the demo and distracting).

main PROC
    INVOKE GetConsoleWindow
    INVOKE ShowWindow, eax, 0

    INVOKE GetModuleHandle, NULL
    mov hInst, eax

    Dialog  0, \
            "Courier New",8, \
            0, \
            0,0,200,200, \
    CallModalDialog hInst, 0, DlgProc, NULL
main ENDP

Dialog and CallModalDialog are macros from the MASM32 SDK. Dialog builds a template at runtime and CallModalDialog creates a modal dialog box from that template and makes a call to DialogBoxIndirectParam.

2. Fill in the Dialog Box

In the Dialog Box Procedure initialization, we call functions to create our RichEdit and two buttons and to handle a few other details.

DlgProc PROC hwndDlg:HWND, uMsg:UINT, wParam:WPARAM, lParam:LPARAM
    LOCAL tempWidth : DWORD
    LOCAL tempHeight : DWORD

    SWITCH uMsg

            ; Caption and icon for the Dialog bOx
            INVOKE SetWindowText, hwndDlg, TEXT_(".PNGs images in RichEdit")
            INVOKE    LoadIcon,hInst,TEXT_("MAINICON")
            INVOKE    SendMessage,hwndDlg,WM_SETICON,ICON_BIG,eax
            ; Here we make a call to create the RichEdit
            INVOKE CreateRichEdit, hwndDlg, 10, 10, 200, 200, hInst
            mov hEdit, eax
            ; Background color - all black
            INVOKE SendMessage, hEdit, EM_SETBKGNDCOLOR, 0, 0
            ; Foreground text
            mov cf.cbSize, SIZEOF(CHARFORMAT)
            mov cf.dwMask, CFM_COLOR
            mov cf.dwEffects, 0
            mov cf.yHeight, 200
            mov cf.yOffset, 0
            RGB 0,255,255
            mov cf.crTextColor, eax
            mov cf.bCharSet, ANSI_CHARSET
            mov cf.bPitchAndFamily, DEFAULT_PITCH or FF_DONTCARE
            INVOKE SendMessage,hEdit,EM_SETCHARFORMAT,SCF_ALL, ADDR cf
            ;Finally, we create 2 buttons, each will embed 
            ;a different image into the RTF when clicked.
            INVOKE CreateButton1, hwndDlg, 10, 240, 90, 30, hInst
            mov hButton1, eax
            INVOKE CreateButton2, hwndDlg, 100, 240, 200, 30, hInst
            mov hButton2, eax

3. Create our Rich Edit

This requires a call to the LoadLibrary function to load Msftedit.dll, and after that, we create our RichEdit control with a call to CreateWindowsEx function specifying "RICHEDIT50W" (known as the MSFTEDIT_CLASS) as the window class.

CreateRichEdit PROC hwndOwner:HWND, x:SDWORD, y:SDWORD, w:SDWORD, h:SDWORD, hinst:HINSTANCE
    INVOKE LoadLibrary, TEXT_("Msftedit.dll")
    .IF eax==0
        ; Unlikely to fail, but anyway.
    INVOKE CreateWindowEx, 0, TEXT_("RICHEDIT50W"), 
           TEXT_("You need Windows 8 or above to test.",13,10,
           "Type whatever and/or click the buttons:",13,10,13,10),\
        x, y, w, h,\
        hwndOwner, NULL, hinst, NULL
CreateRichEdit ENDP

4. Clicking the Buttons

When one of the buttons is pressed, the focus is set to the Rich Edit and our insertEmoticon function is called.

This function is the heart of the demo and it does the following:

  1. Picks the image which is a custom resource of type RT_PNG.
  2. Creates a stream object which implements the IStream interface.
  3. Stores the image into the stream object.
  4. Sends a message with the EM_INSERTIMAGE message. This replaces the selection with a blob that displays the image, if nothing is selected, inserts the blob after the caret.
  5. That's it, but we used a few more instructions to move the caret past the image.
insertEmoticon PROC png : PTR
    LOCAL rcRes : HRSRC
    LOCAL hResData : HGLOBAL
    LOCAL _pIStream : PTR
    LOCAL sizeOfRes : DWORD
    LOCAL NewCharRange : CHARRANGE
    LOCAL dwStart : DWORD
    LOCAL dwEnd : DWORD
    INVOKE  FindResource, 0, png, TEXT_("RT_PNG")
    .IF eax
        mov rcRes, eax
        INVOKE LoadResource, 0, rcRes
        mov hResData, eax
        INVOKE SizeofResource, 0, rcRes
        mov sizeOfRes, eax
        INVOKE  CreateStreamOnHGlobal, 0, TRUE, aDDr _pIStream
        ; IStream::Write    
        coinvoke _pIStream, IStream, Write, hResData, sizeOfRes, 0 

        INVOKE RtlZeroMemory, aDDr rip, sizeof rip
        mov rip.xWidth, 350 ; unit is 0.01mm
        mov rip.yHeight, 350
        TA_BASELINE equ 24
        mov rip._type, TA_BASELINE
        mov eax, TEXT_("Nice Emoticon")
        mov rip.pwszAlternateText, eax
        mov eax, _pIStream
        mov rip.pIStream, eax
        EM_INSERTIMAGE equ WM_USER + 314;
        INVOKE SendMessage,hEdit,EM_INSERTIMAGE ,0, aDDr rip
        ; Advance caret
        INVOKE SendMessage, hEdit, EM_SETSEL, 0, -1
        INVOKE SendMessage, hEdit, EM_GETSEL, aDDr dwStart, aDDr dwEnd
        inc dwEnd
        INVOKE SendMessage, hEdit, EM_SETSEL, dwEnd, dwEnd
        INVOKE SendMessage, hEdit, EM_REPLACESEL, TRUE, 0
        ; IStream::Release
        coinvoke _pIStream, IStream, Release
insertEmoticon ENDP

List of RichEdit Controls

This is a table listing all versions (except minor/build number changes due to updates) of the RichEdit Control since Windows NT and Office 2002 (also known as Office XP or Office 10).

Image 2

The InsertImage Method

The TOM2ITextRange2::InsertImage() method is relatively more complicated than the EM_INSERTIMAGE method, in particular for people that has some difficulties with COM technologies (and who has not?). However, it is more powerful and integrates seamlessly with the other parts of the TOM (Text Object Model) framework.

I produced a simple demo where a text is loaded into a RichEdit control (from Windows 8.0 or later). 

Image 3

Then you press the bottom-left button and spaces are replaced with .PNG images as expected.

Image 4

Both the source code and the built demo are attached.


Update History

  • 4th April, 2019 - Initial release
  • 6th April, 2019
    1. Table of all RichEdit Control releases since Windows NT/Office 2002
    2. Reformatted code
    3. Improved code to advance the caret after image insertion
  • 11th April, 2019 - Added a Demo for the other method mentioned in Murray Sargeant's blog -the  TOM2ITextRange2::InsertImage() method. This demo is in C++, it may be easier to follow then.

(1): Despite, Murray Sargent's statement, this works on Richedit 7.5 under Windows 8.0.

(2): On the 11th April update, I produced a C++ demo for the other method mentioned in blog.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Written By
AtelierWeb Software
Portugal Portugal
Jose Pascoa is the owner of AtelierWeb Software ( We produce security and network software and mixed utilities since 1999. The first program I published (in a BBS) was a MS-DOS utility, had the size of 21 KB and was done in Assembly Language. Nowadays, my low level languages are more likely to be "C", "C++" and "Delphi" rather than Assembly Language but I still like it. I have nothing against more fashionable languages like C# and technologies like WPF, actually I have played with them and published software with them.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
docNyie4-Apr-19 8:17
docNyie4-Apr-19 8:17 

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