5 Internal things that you should know about IIS Express

5 Internal things that you should know about IIS Express

IIS Express provides us a set of flexibility to simulate an IIS hosted environment and test the application directly from the Visual Studio.  In the previous post you have seen  how we can enable SSL in IIS Express  by just a single enabling property. In this post I am going talk about few more important things that you should as a developer. This will help you in dealing with IIS Express.

#1 : Where does the basic configuration information stored ?

The basic information related to the IIS Express are stored inside the project file (proj file)  within the property group information section.  To view it, Open the Project File in edit mode ( In this case I will strongly recomand you to use Visual Studio productivity Tool ) ; where you can edit the project file using “Power Command” as shown in the image below.

Edit Project Files using Power Commands

Once you have the  project file in edited mode, you can search for below configuration section, where you can see the application information related to IIS Express are set.

IIS Express Settings

You can change the configuration editable values and update the project files to take the changes effects.

If your application has the SSL Enabled, IISExpressSSLPort will have the values specified for the SSL  port number.

IIS Port Enabled

#2 : Where is the configuration settings related to bindings and virtual directory?

Project files have the information related to the IIS Express and it’s basic settings; whereas there are several configuration files that are required to host and run a web application.  You can find all the IIS Express related files under \users\<username>\My Documents \ IISExpress\Config .

IIS Express Config Files

Open the “applicationhost.config” file in any text editor, and search for your web application name. You will find a section similar to the image shown in below.

Configuration Settings

As you can see this section contains the information related with the physical path of  IIS Express Virtual Directory, application pool  and the several bindings information.

The aplicationhost.config files are user specific.

#3 :  Applying Multiple Bindings With IIS Express

You can add additional bindings within the “bindings” elements to access your sites using different urls.

&lt;binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:53294:localhost" /&gt;
&lt;binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:53295:my-pc" /&gt;
&lt;binding protocol="https" bindingInformation="*:44302:localhost" /&gt;

For an example if you have the above bindings in the binding configuration section, you will be able to acess the site using http://my-pc:53259 ( where my-pc has to be configure in your host files )

#4 : There is an additional application – IISExpressTray

When you press F5 to run the project, Visual Studio automatically launches the IIS Express and it will show up in your task-bar tray while it’s running.


You can right-click and  select the “Application”  to get the list of currently active URL’s for the current application.  To navigate, you have to click on the site URL.

IIS Application Host

Along with the hosting sites, IIS Express ( IISExpress.exe)  is the parent process of an another application “IISExpressTray.Exe”. You can launch this application by just right click on IIS Express Icon on system tray icon and then select “Show All Applications” .

Following snaps shows the overall process hierarchy of IIS Express with in Visual Studio.

IISExpress Tray

#5 : Quick way to get the details of the site configurations

From the application url lists, you can select any of the url / sites ; IISExpress tray application will show you different additional details such as runtime, application path and configuration file as shown the below image.

Application Details

This is the easiest option to open the application configuration file for IIS Express.

That’s all ! Hope going forward this information will help you to work with IIS Express.


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Abhijit Jana

Abhijit runs the Daily .NET Tips. He started this site with a vision to have a single knowledge base of .NET tips and tricks and share post that can quickly help any developers . He is a Former Microsoft ASP.NET MVP, CodeProject MVP, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Technology Evangelist and presently working as a .NET Consultant. He blogs at http://abhijitjana.net , you can follow him @AbhijitJana . He is the author of book Kinect for Windows SDK Programming Guide.