How to create an installation for a Visual C# application

The Visual Installer installation tool can be used to create an installation package for a Visual C# application. Visual Installer can import a Visual C# project file (a .CSPROJ file) or a Visual Basic solution file (a .SLN file) and create an installer for it. All versions of Visual C# since 2005 (including the latest 2019) are supported.

In the tip below we will show how to import a Visual C# project file to Visual Installer by using Visual Installer's import wizard.
To create a self-extracting setup file:
1. Start Visual Installer and create a new project.
2. Select the File - Import Visual Studio project - Visual C# project menu item:

3. The following dialog box is now shown:

4. Click the Select project file button and browse for a Visual C# project file (.CSPROJ).
    You can also choose a solution file (.SLN) if your application uses many project files.
5. Click the Select program file button and browse for the program file (.EXE) of the project. This is the executable file a user starts to run your application.
6. If your C# application requires a minimum version of .NET Framework you can click on the .NET Framework - setting button. The following dialog box will now be shown:

The 'Microsoft .NET Framework - Check if installed' dialog box
7. In the dialog box, select the minimum .NET version for your application; for example the .NET Framework version 4.5 option.
8. You can choose if you want to warn the user, stop the installation or let the user download the missing version of .NET Framework. Choose the proper option in the If .NET Framework is missing group box.
9. Click OK to close the dialog box.
10. Now click on the Import project button in the Import Visual C# project dialog box.
11. In the dialog box that appears, choose a main destination folder for your application. You can usually use the default folder that is suggested in the dialog box, so you should only click OK.
12. Enter a description for the shortcut for your application, in the new dialog box that is shown.
13. Press OK to continue.
14. The file list in Visual Installer will now be filled with all files that your application consists of. If it is a small project there will probably only be one EXE file in the file list:
The 'File list' tab with the C# application in the file list

15. Give your project a name by entering a project name in the Project name text field.
      For example "My Test Project".
16. Specify a main destination folder in the Main folder text field.
      For example "%PROGRAMFILES\MyTestApp".

17. Now create a setup package by choosing the File - Create setup package menu item.

You have now created an installation package that installs a Visual C# application. The setup program checks first that the required .NET version is installed in the computer, and if the system requirements are met, the application will be installed.
Related tips
Visual Installer can also import a VB.NET project and create an installation of it. This tip shows how:
How to create an installation for a VB.NET application
With Visual Installer you can code sign your setup package. This tip shows how to achieve this:
How to code sign a setup package

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