Creating an installer for your application in Visual Studio 2012

In Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft removed the ability to make quick installers for your application. Now they recommend using a third party like Wix or InstallShield. This tutorial will go over using InstallSheild's free light version to make an installer for your application.

Please note, you cannot use InstallShield's product with the Express versions of Visual Studio.  If you use the express edition, you will not see the "Other Project Types" and "Setup and Deployment" folders mentioned later on.

First head over to InstallShield's website and register for the product.  It is free, but you have to register with a valid email address to receive a license key:

Download and install the program.

Once installation is done, launch the program below as an Administrator:

C:\Program Files (x86)\InstallShield\2012SpringLE\System\TSConfig.exe

Enter your serial number from an auto-generated email they sent you when you downloaded InstallShield Limited and hit Activate.

InstallShield License

Next, open up Visual Studio 2012 (again, note we are not using express)

Click File->New Project.

New Project - Visual Studio

Expand Other Project Types and select Setup and Deployment.  Inside of there, you should see InstallShield Limited Edition Project (again, you won't see this in Visual Studio Express editions).  Click OK.

Other Project Types - InstallShield

At this point, you should see a guided GUI (Project Assistant) to create your installer.  Inside of the Solution Explorer, you will see additional items you can select to configure advanced options.

Project Assistant - InstallShield

3 thoughts on “Creating an installer for your application in Visual Studio 2012

  1. rajeev

    When attempting to create an InstallShield project
    in Visual Studio 11 Beta I get an error saying in the status bar
    saying "Creating Project 'Setup2'... project creation failed."
    In my solution explorer I do not see that
    the project was created at all.
    I would like to give you more information
    about why this is happening but I'm not sure if there are special log files
    for this kind of thing. I have attached the generic log file by running devenv.exe /log.
    This is a blocking issue.

    1. Jack Post author

      Hi Rajeev,

      I haven't tried this in Visual Studio 11 Beta. Since Visual Studio 11 is still beta, I would try an RTM version of Visual Studio (2010 or 2013 for example) instead to see if you can get the project to compile properly. If neither of these versions work, I would advise paying extra to receive pro support from InstallShield to properly assist in getting it to work with that version of VS.

      Hope this helps,


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