Important .NET Framework 4.0 Command Line Tools You Must Know

The .NET Framework 4.0 contains a plethora of command line tools ranging from build, deployment, debugging, security to Interop tools, and so on. Here’s a list of important command line tools in the .NET Framework 4.0 which can be run using the Visual Studio Command Prompt. The description of these tools has been taken from the MSDN documentation.

Assembly, Build, Deployment and Configuration Tools



Al.exe (Assembly Linker)The Assembly Linker generates a file that has an assembly manifest from one or more files that are either modules or resource files.
csc.exe and vbc.exeYou can invoke the C# or VB.NET compiler by typing the name of its executable file on the command line. Check MsBuild listed below to programmatically build programs.
Gacutil.exe (Global Assembly Cache Tool)The Global Assembly Cache tool allows you to view and manipulate the contents of the global assembly cache and download cache.
Ilasm.exe (MSIL Assembler)The MSIL Assembler generates a portable executable (PE) file from Microsoft intermediate language (MSIL)
Ildasm.exe (MSIL Disassembler)The MSIL Disassembler is a companion tool to the MSIL Assembler (Ilasm.exe). Ildasm.exe takes a portable executable (PE) file that contains Microsoft intermediate language (MSIL) code and creates a text file suitable as input to Ilasm.exe.
Installutil.exe (Installer Tool)The Installer tool is a command-line utility that allows you to install and uninstall server resources by executing the installer components in specified assemblies
Mage.exe (Manifest Generation and Editing Tool) and MageUI.exeThe Manifest Generation and Editing Tool (Mage.exe) is a command-line tool that supports the creation and editing of application and deployment manifests.
MsBuild.exeMSBuild.exe builds the specified project or solution file
Ngen.exe (Native Image Generator)The Native Image Generator (Ngen.exe) is a tool that improves the performance of managed applications. Ngen.exe creates native images, which are files containing compiled processor-specific machine code, and installs them into the native image cache on the local computer
Regasm.exe (Assembly Registration Tool)The Assembly Registration tool reads the metadata within an assembly and adds the necessary entries to the registry, which allows COM clients to create .NET Framework classes transparently.
Regsvcs.exe (.NET Services Installation Tool)

The .NET Services Installation tool loads and registers an assembly, generates, registers, and installs a type library into a specified COM+ application and configures services that you have added programmatically to your class.

Resgen.exe (Resource File Generator)The Resource File Generator converts text (.txt or .restext) files and XML-based resource format (.resx) files to common language runtime binary (.resources) files that can be embedded in a runtime binary executable or compiled into satellite assemblies.
Storeadm.exe (Isolated Storage Tool)The Isolated Storage tool lists or removes all existing stores for the current user.

Security Tools



Caspol.exe (Code Access Security Policy Tool)The Code Access Security (CAS) Policy tool (Caspol.exe) enables users and administrators to modify security policy for the machine policy level, the user policy level, and the enterprise policy level
Certmgr.exe (Certificate Manager Tool)Manages certificates, certificate trust lists (CTLs), and certificate revocation lists (CRLs).
Makecert.exe (Certificate Creation Tool)The Certificate Creation tool generates X.509 certificates for testing purposes only. It creates a public and private key pair for digital signatures and stores it in a certificate file
Peverify.exe (PEVerify Tool)Helps you verify whether your Microsoft intermediate language (MSIL) code and associated metadata meet type safety requirements.
SignTool.exe (Sign Tool)Sign Tool is a command-line tool that digitally signs files, verifies signatures in files, and time-stamps files.
Sn.exe (Strong Name Tool)The Strong Name tool (Sn.exe) helps sign assemblies with strong names. Sn.exe provides options for key management, signature generation, and signature verification.

Debugging Tools



Fuslogvw.exe (Assembly Binding Log Viewer)Displays information about assembly binds to help you diagnose why the .NET Framework cannot locate an assembly at run time.
MDbg.exe (.NET Framework Command-Line Debugger) and Sos.dllThe NET Framework Command-Line Debugger helps tools vendors and application developers find and fix bugs in programs that target the .NET Framework common language runtime.

Interop Tools



Tlbexp.exe (Type Library Exporter)The Type Library Exporter generates a type library that describes the types defined in a common language runtime assembly.
Tlbimp.exe (Type Library Importer)The Type Library Importer converts the type definitions found within a COM type library into equivalent definitions in a common language runtime assembly

If you liked this list, also check my post Attributes Every .NET Developer Should Know About

About The Author

Suprotim Agarwal
Suprotim Agarwal, Developer Technologies MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) is the founder and contributor for DevCurry, DotNetCurry and SQLServerCurry. He is the Chief Editor of a Developer Magazine called DNC Magazine. He has also authored two Books - 51 Recipes using jQuery with ASP.NET Controls. and The Absolutely Awesome jQuery CookBook.

Follow him on twitter @suprotimagarwal.


Anonymous said...

So which ones are new for .NET 4.0?

Anonymous said...

mscorcfg.msc was never really a command-line tool, and it's been removed from .NET 4, so it shouldn't be on this list.

Suprotim Agarwal said...

Thanks for the tip. I have removed mscorcfg.msc from the list

Sanjay said...

Many of these aren't new with 4.0. and since we're listing old and new...don't forget WCFTestClient.exe!

Anonymous said...

Maybe for filenames like these, you could use capital "L" instead of lowercase "l", which looks like capital "I" (i).

Rob Relyea said...

msbuild.exe should be here!

-Rob Relyea, WPF Team

Reelix said...


Suprotim Agarwal said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

Rob, Reelix: MsBuild, csc and vbc have been added to the list. Thanks for pointing it out!

alexdresko said...

MUST know? I think not. Already know because they've been a part of the .NET framework forever? Likely.

Jael Mann said...

Good to see your content that you provide about .NET framework which i was looking for.Because i just know the basic.