protected (C++)


The latest version of this topic can be found at protected (C++).


protected base-class  


The protected keyword specifies access to class members in the member-list up to the next access specifier (public or private) or the end of the class definition. Class members declared as protected can be used only by the following:

  • Member functions of the class that originally declared these members.

  • Friends of the class that originally declared these members.

  • Classes derived with public or protected access from the class that originally declared these members.

  • Direct privately derived classes that also have private access to protected members.

When preceding the name of a base class, the protected keyword specifies that the public and protected members of the base class are protected members of its derived classes.

Protected members are not as private as private members, which are accessible only to members of the class in which they are declared, but they are not as public as public members, which are accessible in any function.

Protected members that are also declared as static are accessible to any friend or member function of a derived class. Protected members that are not declared as static are accessible to friends and member functions in a derived class only through a pointer to, reference to, or object of the derived class.

For related information, see friend, public, private, and the member-access table in Controlling Access to Class Members.

/clr Specific

In CLR types, the C++ access specifier keywords (public, private, and protected) can affect the visibility of types and methods with regard to assemblies. For more information, see Type and Member Visibility.


Files compiled with /LN are not affected by this behavior. In this case, all managed classes (either public or private) will be visible.

END /clr Specific


// keyword_protected.cpp  
// compile with: /EHsc  
#include <iostream>  
using namespace std;  
class X {  
   void setProtMemb( int i ) { m_protMemb = i; }  
   void Display() { cout << m_protMemb << endl; }  
   int  m_protMemb;  
   void Protfunc() { cout << "\nAccess allowed\n"; }  
} x;  
class Y : public X {  
   void useProtfunc() { Protfunc(); }  
} y;  
int main() {  
   // x.m_protMemb;         error, m_protMemb is protected  
   x.setProtMemb( 0 );   // OK, uses public access function  
   y.setProtMemb( 5 );   // OK, uses public access function  
   // x.Protfunc();         error, Protfunc() is protected  
   y.useProtfunc();      // OK, uses public access function  
                        // in derived class  

See Also

Controlling Access to Class Members