I recently needed to support dragging shapes on a Canvas in WPF. There are a few detailed articles on this you can read over at CodeProject (see here and here for example). However, I just needed something very simple, so here’s a short code snippet that you can try out using my favourite prototyping tool LINQPad:

var w = new Window();
w.Width = 600;
w.Height = 400;
var c = new Canvas();

Nullable<Point> dragStart = null;

MouseButtonEventHandler mouseDown = (sender, args) => {
    var element = (UIElement)sender;
    dragStart = args.GetPosition(element); 
MouseButtonEventHandler mouseUp = (sender, args) => {
    var element = (UIElement)sender;
    dragStart = null; 
MouseEventHandler mouseMove = (sender, args) => {
    if (dragStart != null && args.LeftButton == MouseButtonState.Pressed) {    
        var element = (UIElement)sender;
        var p2 = args.GetPosition(c);
        Canvas.SetLeft(element, p2.X - dragStart.Value.X);
        Canvas.SetTop(element, p2.Y - dragStart.Value.Y);
Action<UIElement> enableDrag = (element) => {
    element.MouseDown += mouseDown;
    element.MouseMove += mouseMove;
    element.MouseUp += mouseUp;
var shapes = new UIElement [] {
    new Ellipse() { Fill = Brushes.DarkKhaki, Width = 100, Height = 100 },
    new Rectangle() { Fill = Brushes.LawnGreen, Width = 200, Height = 100 },

foreach(var shape in shapes) {

w.Content = c;

The key is that for each draggable shape, you handle MouseDown (to begin a mouse “capture”), MouseUp (to end the mouse capture), and MouseMove (to do the move). Obviously if you need dragged objects to come to the top in the Z order, or to be able to auto-scroll as you drag, you’ll need to write a bit more code than this. The next obvious step would be to turn this into an “attached behaviour” that you can add to each object you put onto your canvas.

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Comment by blorq

You also have to deal with losing the mouse outside of the window and capture loss.

I have also found this method to be poorly performing, as those properties effect layout. I might suggest trying with a render transform.

Comment by Mark H

Yes, this method lets you move things out of visible space. In what situations are you getting capture loss?

Comment by Cortran


Comment by Unknown

Very nice - simple and elegant. I like your use of the Action<> to encapsulate "dragability" and apply it to arbitrary elements.
Thanks, you've nudged me in a very good direction!

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