Windows shell commands

In Microsoft Windows you are able to access some special folders and start some special application from Run… and then type a magic command.

One of these folders is %appsfolder% with a list of installed applications. From this folder you are able to create shortcuts etc. This folder can be accessed using the Windows Run command box and typing “shell:appsfolder”.

When you want to open the folder or run another command without first clicking Windows, Run: You are also able to execute the command from a command prompt using “start” and then the magic words you have to type in the run command box.

for example typing “start shell:appsfolder”

Create a certificate for package signing AND deploy a MSIX package

I wanted my application to be available via a MSIX installer. This new MSIX installer supports all type of Windows applications including Win32, WPF, WinForm and UWP.

I struggled a few days to get the certificate right so that is why I published this article. This article goes through the process of creating a certificate and adding this to the app installer package.

First you need to add a new project to your solution. The solution type is called Windows Application Packaging Project. This is done by right clicking the solution and go to Add > New Project…

Determine the subject of your packaged app
To use a certificate to sign your app package, the “Subject” in the certificate must match the “Publisher” section in your app’s manifest.

For example, the “Identity” section in your app’s AppxManifest.xml file should look something like this:

    Publisher="CN=Contoso Software, O=Contoso Corporation, C=US"
    Version="" />

The “Publisher”, in this case, is “CN=Contoso Software, O=Contoso Corporation, C=US” which needs to be used for creating your certificate.

Then run the following commands in an elevated PowerShell prompt:

  1. PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> New-SelfSignedCertificate -Type Custom -Subject “CN=Contoso Software, O=Contoso Corporation, C=US” -KeyUsage DigitalSignature -FriendlyName “Certificate for Installing MSIX/Appx from Contoso Software” -CertStoreLocation “Cert:\CurrentUser\My” -TextExtension @(“{text}”, “{text}”)

    PSParentPath: Microsoft.PowerShell.Security\Certificate::CurrentUser\My

    Thumbprint Subject
    ———- ——-
    2B046FBC587DD867989D6165570B4C144F557FCE CN=Contoso Software, O=Contoso Corporation, C=US
  2. PS C:\WINDOWS\system32>Set-Location Cert:\CurrentUser\My
  3. PS Cert:\CurrentUser\My> $password = ConvertTo-SecureString -String mypassword -Force -AsPlainText
  4. PS Cert:\CurrentUser\My> Export-PfxCertificate -cert “2B046FBC587DD867989D6165570B4C144F557FCE” -FilePath c:\Contoso.Software.pfx -Password $password

    Directory: C:\

    Mode LastWriteTime Length Name
    —- ————- —— —-
    -a—- 7-9-2020 08:42 2756 Contoso.Software.pfx

Then add the certificate to the package installer in Visual Studio:

Next publish the app:

Import the certificate if it is not already installed

Start Manage computer certificates to import the certificate to the computer(s) to which you wish the app to deploy

If it is not present in Thrusted People, import the certificate

Next publish the app

And double click the PackagingProject.appinstaller from the installer folder

Debugging Windows Service in Visual Studio

After some searching and testing how to debug a windows service, I found that for me the following solution is working very well.

First register your service as a service on your machine. This can be done with a few simple steps. How to do this is described in this article:

Next add a line / lines Debugger.Break(); in your code where you want the debugger to start. Now compile in debug mode clicking in Visual Studio menu: Build, Build Solution while the Configuration Manager is set to Debug.

After the application compiled successfully we can stop and start the service to ensure these modifications are run:

I used the tips from and

Right click the Visual Studio application and select more…, Run as administrator

Click Debug, Attach to Process in the Visual Studio menu.

This will open a dialog where you need to select the right process to debug. Check the Show processes from all users checkbox. Find your Service process and click Attach.

Registering / Installing a Windows Service

After you have written your Windows Service in Visual Studio you might want to run this to test and use the service.

You can run your service with a few simple steps: I used a service called ServiceName in the following examples.

First start a command prompt: cmd (as admin)

Install a service is done using sc create, syntax:
sc create ServiceName binPath=”pathto.exe”. If the command was successfull it will report SUCCESS.

Install a service is done using sc create, syntax:
sc create ServiceName binPath=”pathto.exe”.

If the command was successfull it will report SUCCESS. Example:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>sc create ServiceName binPath=”C:\repos\ServiceMonitor\ServiceName\bin\Debug\ServiceName.exe”
[SC] CreateService SUCCESS

To start the service use the command net start, syntax:
net start ServiceName

C:\WINDOWS\system32>net start ServiceName
The ServiceName service is starting.
The ServiceName service was started successfully.

To stop the service use the command net stop, syntax:
net stop ServiceName

C:\WINDOWS\system32>net stop ServiceName
The ServiceName service is stopping.
The ServiceName service was stopped successfully.

To delete / uninstall the service use sc delete, syntax:
sc delete ServiceName

C:\WINDOWS\system32>sc delete servicename
[SC] DeleteService SUCCESS

UPDATE 28-2-2019: New post, I added a installer in the executable. This enables the service to install running the executable. Read on in this follow up article: