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Posted 7 Oct 2014


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Finding Skype's Default Account Name

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9 Jan 2017CPOL2 min read
This article explains how the Skype account details are stored, how to fetch this information and in general, how to interpret XML files using Rapid XML library.


The purpose of this article is to show you how to find the default Skype's account name.

The Problem

I needed to code a function that extracts data from the default Skype account on a given computer. To do so, I first needed to locate the default account name. I found a simple way of doing so.

The Solution

The Skype default account’s name is stored in a file named “shared.xml”. This file is stored in C:\users\username\AppData\Roaming\Skype\.

First, we need to find this location as the exact path we need to access varies based on username.

To do so, we use:


and pass CSIDL_APPDATA as its parameter.

According to MSDB, "The file system directory that serves as a common repository for application-specific data."

So to get that path, we call:

TCHAR szFileName[MAX_PATH + 1];
SHGetSpecialFolderPath(0, szFileName, CSIDL_APPDATA, 0);

This file is obviously an XML file. So the next step is to open "shared.xml" located in that path and extract from it the desired information.

To do so, we need an XML parser and RapidXML is the one I recommend. RapidXml is a very fast, open source XML parser which preserves its usability, is portable, is W3C compatible. It is an in-situ parser written in modern C++, with parsing speed approaching that of strlen function executed on the same data.

Alternatively, XML files can be proceed using the CString type, just by calling Find for locating the begining and the end of each XML element. In my article The Secrets of Wi-Fi Credentials, I use that method so there is no XML "helper" class included in the source code and yet, all Wi-Fi credentials are fetched (when you run the program) as the values are found using the "Find()" method.

In order to find the default account's name, we first need to find in this file the “Account” element and inside of it to find the “default” element where the account name will be found.

rapidxml::xml_node<char>* node_account = 0;
if (GetNodeByElementName(root, "Account", &node_account) == true)
      rapidxml::xml_node<char>* node_default = 0;
      if (GetNodeByElementName(node_account, "default", &node_default) == true)

             swprintf(result, 100, L"%hs", node_default->value());
             return true;

So if you run the test application after compiling the source code associated with this article, you should get an output similar to that one:

Points of Interest

I have taken the opportunity to demonstrate a minimal MFC application, created by scratch and not using the Visual Studio Wizard, whilst containing only the necessary definitions and include files.

The source code which accompanies this tip was created and compiled under Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate.

Since this article was published, I was asked to add further instructions for obtaining stored Skype chat logs and other stored information and I plan to do that in future articles.


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


About the Author

Michael Haephrati
CEO Secured Globe, Inc.
United States United States
Michael Haephrati is a music composer, an inventor and an expert specializes in software development and information security, who has built a unique perspective which combines technology and the end user experience. He is the author of a new C++ 20 book being published this year.

He is the CEO of Secured Globe, Inc., and also active at Stack Overflow.

Read our Corporate blog or read my Personal blog.

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