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Creating Windows Entry Points for Troubleshooting ThinApp Packages

By default, ThinApp creates Entry Points (e.g. Shortcuts) in your packaged applications for CMD.EXE, REGEDIT, and Internet Explorer. But wouldn’t it be nice to have some shortcuts in your ThinApp package for troubleshooting? For example, Windows Explorer, Services, Local Machine Group Policy Editor, and other similar tools would make troubleshooting and customizing your packaged application a heck of a lot easier.

Well, here’s how you do that!

To create an entry point for showing the Computer Management window along with any virtualized services and other settings, you can create a Computer Management Entry Point by adding the following to your PACKAGE.INI.

[Computer Management (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE
CommandLine=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE %SystemSystem%\COMPMGMT.MSC
Icon=C:\Windows\system32\mycomput.dll,2

To create an entry point for showing any virtualized services within the actual services window, add the following to your PACKAGE.INI.

[Services (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE
CommandLine=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE %SystemSystem%\SERVICES.MSC
Icon=C:\Windows\system32\filemgmt.dll,0 

To create a Local Machine Group Policy shortcut to view and modify any specific Group Policy type settings within your virtual application, add the following entry point.

[Local GPO (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE
CommandLine=%SystemSystem%\MMC.EXE %SystemSystem%\GPEDIT.MSC
Icon=C:\Windows\system32\mmc.exe,0 

For creating a Windows Explorer shortcut that launches Windows Explorer specifically within your virtual application, use the following in your PACKAGE.INI file.

[Windows Explorer (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe
CommandLine=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe -E ::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}
Icon=C:\Windows\mydocs.dll,0 

It should noted the above entry point for Windows Explorer will open the user’s MY DOCUMENTS folder. Using the below GUIDs, you can change the above entry point to go to any of the below special folders.
;My Computer – {20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
;My Documents – {450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}
;My Network Places – {208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}
;Internet Explorer – {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}
;Recycle Bin – {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
;Printers And Faxes – {2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D}
;Administrative Tools – {D20EA4E1-3957-11D2-A40B-0C5020524153}
;Scheduled Tasks – {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}
;Network Connections – {7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E}
;Fonts – {D20EA4E1-3957-11D2-A40B-0C5020524152}

For creating a Windows Explorer shortcut that launches Windows Explorer to a specific folder or path within your virtual application, use the following in your PACKAGE.INI file – but make certain you set the CommandLine option to the correct path!

[Windows Explorer (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe
CommandLine=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe -E <Your Path Here – Can Use Variables>
Icon=C:\Windows\mydocs.dll,0 

It should be noted that you can use both System variables (i.e. %SYSTEMROOT%) as well as ThinApp variables (i.e. %SYSTEMSYSTEM%).

If you want to create an Office Updates (or other browser based updates site) link, you can use something similar to the following entry point.

[Office Updates (ThinApp).exe]
Disabled=0
Shortcut=<PACKAGE SOURCE FILE>
Source=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe
CommandLine=%ProgramFilesDir%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe "http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads"

Just remember these are not the only Windows entry points you can create in your ThinApp Package.  If you can find the executable and any switches to launch something, you can make it an entry point!

6 thoughts on “Creating Windows Entry Points for Troubleshooting ThinApp Packages

  1. George

    first of thanks for the entry. I’ve searching for the same for some time.The userguide says to find the services entry point in package.ini file but that entry is not listed there. So i came accross your post and i added the entry.
    after that i build the app i got an error saying that the ReadOnlyData= is missing so i added that and put 1 after the’=’. Then again build it, failed again saying that the shortcut= and ReadOnlyData= cannot be added together. So i deleted the shortcut= and the build was success. I registered the service with thinreg and when i ran the service i got this error “Failed to open, find, or create Sandbox directory”
    can you help me with this ?

  2. Dean Flaming

    @George – This sounds like you captured the app with ThinApp 4.6.1 and are attempting to build it with 4.6.0 or older.
    In 4.6.1, the Data Container is no longer “BIN\PACKAGE.RO.TVR” – it is now just “PACKAGE.RO.TVR”. This was done for flexibility purposes in the project build process when combining ThinApp into other 3rd party packaging solutions.
    Key Symptom: If you attempt to build a project captured with 4.6.1 with anything earlier than 4.6.1, you’ll get an invalidly built package and it will just create an entry point which, when launched, says it cannot find/open the sandbox!
    Resolution: Build with ThinApp 4.6.1 or, if building with older versions of ThinApp, edit the PACKAGE.INI and change data container’s value “ReadOnlyData=Package.ro.tvr” to “ReadOnlyData=bin\Package.ro.tvr” or upgrade to ThinApp 4.6.1 or higher, then rebuild the project.
    Note: The below will show up under the Primary Data Container settings in the PACKAGE.INI as a reminder of this.
    —SNIP—
    ;Change ReadOnlyData to bin\Package.ro.tvr to build with old versions(4.6.0 or earlier) of tools
    —SNIP—

  3. Jeff

    Hello, I tried to add the Windows Explorer entry point and I’m having a little bit of trouble. The application is compiled on Windows 7, and when iexplore.exe is launched on Windows 7, it works just fine. But when I try to run it on Windows XP, the Windows Explorer window that opens does not have access to the Thinapp package’s internal files; it’s just a regular Windows Explorer window. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  4. Toby Fruth

    How about other apps, like Outlook?

  5. Jonas

    Can you use a Windows System Variable in a Paxkage.ini Commandline, if I eg wanted IE to launch a certain url?

  6. Dean Flaming

    @Jonas – Yes…. You can find all the information on this in the ThinApp Pubs (http://bit.ly/ThinAppPubs).
    The specific link you’re looking for is http://pubs.vmware.com/thinapp4/help/wwhelp/wwhimpl/js/html/wwhelp.htm?href=folder_macro_list.html#996413

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