Actual Installer
installation software

How to Create a Better Installation for Your Software

Actual Installer Screen shots

Developersí experience suggests that a good, professional looking software installer is extremely important for your products. Nothing creates a worse first impression than an installer which doesnít work or is hard to use. In other words, if you want your software to project a positive image before a user even has a chance to try it, you should take care of a professional and reliable installer, like Actual Installer. A powerful tool, it allows creating installer packages with classic Wizard or Modern view. Its interface being intuitive, benefits first-time developers, enabling them to create simple installation packages, as well as professional developers, who can create multifunctional installer packages.

To begin the process, run Actual Installer. On startup it automatically creates a new project with common settings and a unique identifier - Product GUID, a reference number used as an identifier of your product (e.g. {318020E9-4E14-DAB0-1CE4-2EE91C6FF5D0} for Actual Installer). The setup program uses Product GUID to detect currently installed version of application, so it is very important to use the same Product GUID for the main installation of the application and its updates, patches, etc..


The first tab is General, containing the Product Name and Product Version fields. Company Name, Web Site and Support Link fields are optional, they will display in the Control Panel - Programs and Features list.

On the Parameters tab you can specify behaviour of your setup program. There are two Installation Modes available: STANDARD and UPGRADE. Select the first one to create a main (basic) installation that will install your application on a clean computer. To create an upgrade (patch, add-on) program that will upgrade (update) your application on computer, select the second option.
While using the STANDARD mode, it is recommended to select the option "Uninstall previous version before installation" in order to avoid duplicate entries of application details in Registry.

Also, on this tab you can specify how your application will be installed on client machine: for Current User or All Users. Shortcuts will be created in accordance with this setting. To install for all users, administrator privileges are required (see Requirements tab).

The Requirements tab allows you to choose Windows versions under which your application works properly. If your developed a 64-bit application then make sure to select 64-bit only option, otherwise the setup program will install it in the C:\Program Files (x86) directory, instead of C:\Program Files. Please read more information about installing on 64-bit Windows.

It is recommended that you should select Require Administrator Privileges option; otherwise the installer wonít be able to create files and registry entries in Windows system sections (such as a folder 'Program Files', registry keys under 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE', and so on). However, you donít need to select it if you just need to copy the files to a directory that is not a system one.

On the Software Prerequisites tab you can specify dependencies for your application, such as .NET Framework, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Java (JRE), SQL, Microsoft Visual C++, Crystal Reports, and others.

On the last tab Output you can specify the type of the setup package. It may be Setup EXE (data inside), Setup EXE + Data (next to it) or Setup EXE + Data (download from Web). Also here you can specify the folder and filename for the setup program which will be created.


Going to the Files and Folders tab in the Installation section. In the Source Directory field you need to specify the folder containing application files. This folder will be installed into the folder specified in the Destination Folder field. This value corresponds to the variable <InstallDir>. By default, it is set to <ProgramFiles>\<AppName>. This value will return on the target machine the following local path: C:\Program Files\New Product. To read more about installer variables, click here.
You may also add files to the project by using buttons Add Files and Add Folder.

Please read recommendation by Microsoft on where to install applications:
Your app must be installed in the Program Files folder by default. User data or app data must never be stored in this location because of the security permissions configured for this folder.
Your app data, which must be shared among users on the computer, should be stored within ProgramData.
Your app's data that is exclusive to a specific user and that is not to be shared with other users of the computer, must be stored in Users\%USERNAME%\AppData

Variable for Program Files - <ProgramFiles>
Variable for ProgramData - <CommonAppData>
Variable for Users\%USERNAME%\AppData - <AppData>

On the Shortcuts tab you can add shortcuts for application files on Desktop, Start\Programs folder, etc.

The next tab is Uninstallation. If you want to enable the uninstallation feature for your program, just select Include Uninstaller and into your project will be added file Uninstall.exe and a shortcut to it in the program menu. Select Force Uninstall when you want the Uninstaller to completely remove the installation folder (in case your program creates additional files in it).

The last tab at the Installation page is Updater. Select Include 'Actual Updater' tool to include Actual Updater software in the installation package. This utility allows checking updates for your application via Internet.


Moving on to Dialogs section. Here you can choose the pages that will be displayed in the Setup Wizard during installation. The Languages tab offers the languages for the Setup Wizard program.

At the License Agreement tab you can specify License Agreement files; it is also possible to use a separate file for each setup language. If you want to use the same License Agreement file for all languages, just specify it for the (Default) item only.

At the User Information tab information to query can be specified. Three standard options available: User Name, Company Name and Serial Number. You may save these values provided by user in the Registry or INI file. In this case, use variables <UserName>, <UserCompany> and <UserSerial> respectively. The tab also contains Custom Field to query additional information. The value provided by user for this field saved in the variable <CustomUserInfo>.

At the Finish tab specify what actions user have to do after installation completed: launch your application, view ReadMe file, restart computer, or custom action (e.g. open "Thank you for installing our product" page at your website).


At the System page you can manage Registry entries and INI files. You can also retrieve values from Registry and save them in Variables. On the Commands tab you can specify any commands to be executed before or after installation.


This page has three tabs. At File Associations you can specify the file types to be registered in the system. Also there are options to manage Environment Variables: add new system variables, or remove / update current ones. The Others tab is used to register Fonts, ActiveX and .NET DLLs, Type Libraries, and ScreenSavers.

After the functional has been set, press F9 or click green arrow and be ready to get a great looking, professional installer for your product!

NOTE: To remove the Unknown Publisher warning message from your setup file, you need to sign this file with your own digital certificate. We recommend you to get it from K-Software (a Comodo Strategic Partner) as this company provides the cheapest certificates on the market. Plus, only for Actual Installer users, there is a 15% Discount - just use the coupon code: CPNACTUAL

Article updated on Oct 27, 2017

What Users Say...
“If you want a single installation solution for all of your programs, there is no better candidate than Actual Installer!”
Editor from
“I was looking for a good and professional installer for my chat-program. I've tried a few programs to create installer packages, but none was as easy and clear as Actual Installer. Because my website and programs are in Dutch, I also wanted my installation in my language. That translation wasn't available yet, but with Actual Installer it was easy to create one. Thanks for this fantastic software!”
Johan Montenij, Netherlands
“Actual installer is one of most helpful program I've encounter so far. It's easy to manage and simple. One add that I would like to suggest is being able to change the icon of the application (the default one). This Ad would make this program number one.”
John Knievez
To uninstall Actual Installer from your computer, go to Control Panel \ Programs and Features and double-click Actual Installer.