One of my favorite tools is Spy++. It comes as an add-on tool with Visual Studio and ever since I figured out how useful it is, it’s my go to tool for figuring out what is going on with a program.

A while back, I had forgotten my password for an email account. I didn’t want to go in and reset it and I knew that there were the same corresponding * marks for each letter of the password, but I just couldn’t remember it. I figured that there had to be a way to bypass the textbox mask and get to the underlying password.

I tried many other tools, and it just wasn’t getting me anywhere. As I was working on a development project, I noticed a Tools directory in the Visual Studio menu. That’s when I met Spy++ and it was love at first site.

When you open Spy++ you get to see a listing of Windows, Threads, and Processes. It really does a neat job of breaking down an application for you to the control.

To find the underlying text in a masked textbox do the following:

  1. Click on the Search icon in the toolbar. This will bring up the following window:
  2. Click and drag the finder tool to the box with the masked password.
  3. The Caption should display the plain text of the masked text.

I will point out that this doesn’t work all of the time. There are some applications that do not show the plain text of the masked field, but it works a majority of the time.


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