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Posted 6 Feb 2002

Adding a description to a .NET Windows Service

, 6 Feb 2002
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This article describes how to add a description for your .NET Framework Windows Service to the Services administration tool.
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Although the .NET Framework provides extremely robust Windows Service support through the classes available under the System.ServiceProcess namespace, for some reason the ability to specify your the description displayed in the Services control panel applet/MMC snap-in for your service was omitted. There exists an attribute class named ServiceProcessDescription, but it actually specifies what the Services MMC displays under the name column, and the Description column is left blank. This article will walk you through a low-level hack for adding a description by adding it directly to your service's registry key.

Most services keep their configuration information in the registry under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\<Service Name> key. This is where the Service Control Manager (SCM) looks to get a list of services installed on a machine, and the Services control panel uses the SCM to list and modify the services. If you look under the key for a service, you'll see several entries, but we're interested in one in particular: the Description value. This is a REG_SZ (string) value, and this is where the SCM looks to get a service's description. We'll now take advantage of this arcane knowledge in the code below (you may download the source by clicking here):

//This code should be inserted into your ProjectInstaller class' code

public override void Install(IDictionary stateServer)
  Microsoft.Win32.RegistryKey system,
    //...\<Service Name>
    //...\Parameters - this is where you can put service-specific configuration

    //Let the project installer do its job

    system = Microsoft.Win32.Registry.LocalMachine.OpenSubKey("System");
    //Open CurrentControlSet
    currentControlSet = system.OpenSubKey("CurrentControlSet");
    //Go to the services key
    services = currentControlSet.OpenSubKey("Services");
    //Open the key for your service, and allow writing
    service = services.OpenSubKey(this.serviceInstaller1.ServiceName, true);
    //Add your service's description as a REG_SZ value named "Description"
    service.SetValue("Description", "This is my service's description.");
    //(Optional) Add some custom information your service will use...
    config = service.CreateSubKey("Parameters");
  catch(Exception e)
    Console.WriteLine("An exception was thrown during service installation:\n" + e.ToString());

public override void Uninstall(IDictionary stateServer)
  Microsoft.Win32.RegistryKey system,

    //Drill down to the service key and open it with write permission
    system = Microsoft.Win32.Registry.LocalMachine.OpenSubKey("System");
    currentControlSet = system.OpenSubKey("CurrentControlSet");
    services = currentControlSet.OpenSubKey("Services");
    service = services.OpenSubKey(this.serviceInstaller1.ServiceName, true);
    //Delete any keys you created during installation (or that your service created)
  catch(Exception e)
    Console.WriteLine("Exception encountered while uninstalling service:\n" + e.ToString());
    //Let the project installer do its job

After you add the above code to your ProjectInstaller class, you should see a description for your service alongside your service's name after your service is installed. In a future article, we'll look at how we can add the description as a custom attribute and extend the ServiceInstaller class to add the description for us automatically.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Andy Hopper
Web Developer
United States United States
Andy Hopper is a Enterprise Architect for Wintellect (, a company that supplies software training, consulting, and debugging services.

Classically trained as an electrical engineer, Andy rediscovered his long-lost love with programming while working on a PhD project and changed careers in 1995 to become a self-taught software engineer. Andy realized his time with C++, VB and ATL were at an end when he received the .NET Framework preview at the 2000 Professional Developer's Conference.

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GeneralCOM .NET Marshaling Pin
ash8822-Oct-03 22:00
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GeneralRe: COM .NET Marshaling Pin
Priyacb6-Jul-04 2:49
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GeneralProblems writing registry key Pin
Michael Gamauf5-Sep-03 2:52
sussMichael Gamauf5-Sep-03 2:52 
Generalrunning a exe file from windows service Pin
goodnews12327-Aug-03 23:55
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GeneralRe: running a exe file from windows service Pin
Okeno Palmer29-Aug-03 7:57
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Questionwhy so many levels? Pin
av41230-Jul-03 12:33
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AnswerRe: why so many levels? Pin
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GeneralRe: why so many levels? Pin
Andy Hopper7-Aug-03 2:24
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GeneralRe: why so many levels? Pin
RGabo19-Nov-04 18:27
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AnswerRe: why so many levels? Pin
akosows8-Jul-05 0:39
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GeneralExcellent Pin
zzzzip16-Jun-03 20:27
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QuestionWhat is Windows Service? Pin
Anonymous21-Apr-03 21:33
sussAnonymous21-Apr-03 21:33 
AnswerRe: What is Windows Service? Pin
xrenvam22-Apr-03 16:12
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Generalthrows exception Pin
xrenvam14-Apr-03 15:41
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GeneralAdd Start Parameters to Windows Service Pin
David Spectorman14-Apr-03 4:49
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GeneralRe: Add Start Parameters to Windows Service Pin
booze4-Jul-03 9:46
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GeneralRe: Add Start Parameters to Windows Service Pin
David Spectorman26-Nov-03 2:11
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GeneralThanks! Pin
rado20-Feb-03 22:35
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Questionwhat about.... Pin
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AnswerRe: what about.... Pin
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GeneralNiiice Pin
keno8-Jan-03 17:17
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GeneralDescriptions to .NET Services Pin
vbscripteater26-Aug-02 9:03
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GeneralRe: Descriptions to .NET Services Pin
Anonymous26-Aug-02 17:06
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GeneralRe: Descriptions to .NET Services Pin
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GeneralRe: Descriptions to .NET Services Pin
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