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C# Access Modifiers


Access Modifiers

By now, you are quite familiar with the public keyword that appears in many of our examples:

public string color;

The public keyword is an access modifier, which is used to set the access level/visibility for classes, fields, methods and properties.

C# has the following access modifiers:

Modifier Description
public The code is accessible for all classes
private The code is only accessible within the same class
protected The code is accessible within the same class, or in a class that is inherited from that class. You will learn more about inheritance in a later chapter
internal The code is only accessible within its own assembly, but not from another assembly. You will learn more about this in a later chapter

There's also two combinations: protected internal and private protected.

For now, lets focus on public and private modifiers.


Private Modifier

If you declare a field with a private access modifier, it can only be accessed within the same class:

Example

class Car
{
  private string model = "Mustang";

  static void Main(string[] args)
  {
    Car myObj = new Car();
    Console.WriteLine(myObj.model);
  }
}

The output will be:

Mustang

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If you try to access it outside the class, an error will occur:

Example

class Car
{
  private string model = "Mustang";
}

class Program
{
  static void Main(string[] args)
  {
    Car myObj = new Car();
    Console.WriteLine(myObj.model);
  }
}

The output will be:

'Car.model' is inaccessible due to its protection level
The field 'Car.model' is assigned but its value is never used

Try it Yourself »


Public Modifier

If you declare a field with a public access modifier, it is accessible for all classes:

Example

class Car
{
  public string model = "Mustang";
}

class Program
{
  static void Main(string[] args)
  {
    Car myObj = new Car();
    Console.WriteLine(myObj.model);
  }
}

The output will be:

Mustang

Try it Yourself »


Why Access Modifiers?

To control the visibility of class members (the security level of each individual class and class member).

To achieve "Encapsulation" - which is the process of making sure that "sensitive" data is hidden from users. This is done by declaring fields as private. You will learn more about this in the next chapter.

Note: By default, all members of a class are private if you don't specify an access modifier:

Example

class Car
{
  string model;  // private
  string year;   // private
}