pthread_getspecific man page


This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may not be implemented on Linux.

pthread_getspecific, pthread_setspecific — thread-specific data management


#include <pthread.h>

void *pthread_getspecific(pthread_key_t key);
int pthread_setspecific(pthread_key_t key, const void *value);


The pthread_getspecific() function shall return the value currently bound to the specified key on behalf of the calling thread.

The pthread_setspecific() function shall associate a thread-specific value with a key obtained via a previous call to pthread_key_create(). Different threads may bind different values to the same key. These values are typically pointers to blocks of dynamically allocated memory that have been reserved for use by the calling thread.

The effect of calling pthread_getspecific() or pthread_setspecific() with a key value not obtained from pthread_key_create() or after key has been deleted with pthread_key_delete() is undefined.

Both pthread_getspecific() and pthread_setspecific() may be called from a thread-specific data destructor function. A call to pthread_getspecific() for the thread-specific data key being destroyed shall return the value NULL, unless the value is changed (after the destructor starts) by a call to pthread_setspecific(). Calling pthread_setspecific() from a thread-specific data destructor routine may result either in lost storage (after at least PTHREAD_DESTRUCTOR_ITERATIONS attempts at destruction) or in an infinite loop.

Both functions may be implemented as macros.

Return Value

The pthread_getspecific() function shall return the thread-specific data value associated with the given key. If no thread-specific data value is associated with key, then the value NULL shall be returned.

If successful, the pthread_setspecific() function shall return zero; otherwise, an error number shall be returned to indicate the error.


No errors are returned from pthread_getspecific().

The pthread_setspecific() function shall fail if:

Insufficient memory exists to associate the non-NULL value with the key.

The pthread_setspecific() function shall not return an error code of [EINTR].

The following sections are informative.


Performance and ease-of-use of pthread_getspecific() are critical for functions that rely on maintaining state in thread-specific data. Since no errors are required to be detected by it, and since the only error that could be detected is the use of an invalid key, the function to pthread_getspecific() has been designed to favor speed and simplicity over error reporting.

If an implementation detects that the value specified by the key argument to pthread_setspecific() does not refer to a a key value obtained from pthread_key_create() or refers to a key that has been deleted with pthread_key_delete(), it is recommended that the function should fail and report an [EINVAL] error.

See Also


The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, <pthread.h>