How To Create an MSI Installer Package

How To Create an MSI Installer Package

When starting out with Chocolatey products, why not start simple? Installing an MSI is a popular use of a Chocolatey package, and we'll walk you through how to do just that - assuming you've already run through Preparing Your Environment for Package Creation.

What Is an MSI

MSI files are a standardised installer filetype, used by Windows. Unlike EXE installers (which can and will do just about anything), MSIs have standards (or at least they all use the Windows Installer under the hood) and will behave somewhat predictably.

Consequently, they're often appreciated by busy Systems Administrators who want to deploy software to many computers - or anyone looking for the silent install options.

Using Install-ChocolateyPackage

Chocolatey supports a lot of different types of installer, including MSIs. EXEs, MSIs, and MSUs (all popular install formats) are normally installed using the Install-ChocolateyPackage function - and, in fact, our default template for a new package contains an example of this!

You can inspect the full set of available parameters for this function at the link above.

At the most basic level, though, you can use it by simply passing in a PackageName and URL (or URL64for 64-bit installers):

$InstallArgs = @{
    PackageName = $env:ChocolateyPackageName
    Url         = ""

Install-ChocolateyPackage @InstallArgs

:choco-info: If you hadn't seen it before, $env:ChocolateyPackageName is a variable within Chocolatey scripts set to the ID of the current package.

Of course, in a real-world package you would also want to add arguments to ensure the software installed silently, use a 64-bit installer (if available), and add checksums to ensure that the URL you downloaded matched with your expectations (if you weren't going to add the installer to the package).

We'll dive into the additional options in Creating your Install Script, later on this page.

Creating an MSI Package

In this example, we're going to be creating a new Firefox MSI package.

:choco-info: For the purposes of the example, we'll provide URLs that work at time of writing. If you were creating a package from scratch, you would want to find the URLs for the installers yourself. In this case, we browsed to Mozilla's download site and grabbed the URL of the MSI(s) we wanted.

There are package templates to create various package types, including an MSI template!

We'll use this to create our new MSI package:

  1. Open your tutorials directory in VS Code.
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+P or use the View menu and click on Command Palette.
  3. Select Chocolatey: Install Template Package(s).
  4. Open the Command Palette again, as in the prior step.
  5. Select Chocolatey: Create new Chocolatey package
  6. Give your package a name, e.g. firefox-msi, and hit Enter.
  7. Select msi from the template list.

This should result in a new directory, containing the following files:

├── tools
│   ├── chocolateyBeforeModify.ps1
│   ├── chocolateyInstall.ps1
│   ├── chocolateyUninstall.ps1
│   ├── LICENSE.txt
│   ├── VERIFICATION.txt
├── firefox-msi.nuspec

For this package, you can delete the chocolateyBeforeModify.ps1, LICENSE.txt, and VERIFICATION.txt files from the tools directory, and the file from the root of firefox-msi.

You'll want to open the firefox-msi.nuspec file, and fill out the following fields in the metadata section if required:

  • packageSourceUrl: This can be removed, or updated with your source URL.
  • owners: This field shows who maintains the package - your name or username is appropriate!
  • authors: The authors of the software in question - for the example package, this should be removed or updated to Mozilla Foundation.
  • projectUrl: The URL of the software in question - for the example package, this should be removed or updated to
  • tags: Tags for the nuget feed you're publishing the package to. These can be updated however you prefer, though the Chocolatey Community Repository has some guidance on what is needed there.
  • summary: This is a summary of the package contents. For this example, you could add Mozilla Firefox is a web-browser.
  • description: This is a description of the package contents, and generally contains more detail than the summary - including things like package arguments. It supports markdown. We won't be dealing with anything that complex here!

You can now fill or remove any other commented out sections of the nuspec file, if you want.

Your final content should look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!-- Do not remove this test for UTF-8: if “Ω” doesn’t appear as greek uppercase omega letter enclosed in quotation marks, you should use an editor that supports UTF-8, not this one. -->
<package xmlns="">
    <title>Mozilla Firefox (Install)</title>
    <authors>Mozilla Foundation</authors>
    <tags>browser mozilla firefox oss</tags>
    <summary>Mozilla Firefox is a web-browser.</summary>
    <!-- description>More detail</description -->
    <file src="tools\**" target="tools" />

Creating Your Install Script

So, you already have a chocolateyInstall.ps1 script present in your tools directory! However, it's been generated from a template - so will be missing a few details!

As mentioned above, we're going to be using Mozilla Firefox for our example package. You can use the following values in the upcoming steps - or, find them yourself:

  • URL:
  • URL64bit:
  • Checksum: 1D871A1364C2EF0371C172548E564102DC698E0FA48E3E72118E92C17F163C7A
  • Checksum64: 0FC6959385CB89C03E1C82F991EB8449BC8E2E080075A648A4C65CCDC5CD7D58

If you open the chocolateyInstall.ps1 from the newly created tools directory, you will see that there are comments to walk you through creating this package, and blank strings to be filled in! Most of these strings are found within the $packageArgs hashtable.

Update the following values in the install script:

  • URL: You will need to provide a URL for the MSI to install.
  • URL64: If there is a separate 64-bit MSI, you should provide a URL for that here.
  • Checksum: To ensure you download the correct file, we support providing a checksum (and recommend you use it)
  • Checksum64: Similar to the URL64, if there is a separate install provided, you will need to calculate a checksum for it and add it here.

To calculate the checksum yourself, download the file and run Get-FileHash in a PowerShell window:

Invoke-WebRequest -Uri '' -OutFile '~\Downloads\Firefox Setup 120.0.1.msi' -UseBasicParsing
Get-FileHash '~\Downloads\Firefox Setup 120.0.1.msi'

This will output the SHA256 hash for the file. Repeat for each file you want to generate a hash for (or use the values provided above).

You can now remove all commented out sections from this file, and save it.

Your final file should look something like this:

$ErrorActionPreference = 'Stop'

$packageArgs = @{
  packageName   = 'firefox-msi'
  fileType      = 'MSI'
  url           = ''
  url64bit      = ''

  checksum      = '1D871A1364C2EF0371C172548E564102DC698E0FA48E3E72118E92C17F163C7A'
  checksumType  = 'sha256'
  checksum64    = '0FC6959385CB89C03E1C82F991EB8449BC8E2E080075A648A4C65CCDC5CD7D58'
  checksumType64= 'sha256'

  silentArgs    = "/qn /norestart /l*v `"$($env:TEMP)\$($packageName).$($env:chocolateyPackageVersion).MsiInstall.log`""
  validExitCodes= @(0, 3010, 1641)

Install-ChocolateyPackage @packageArgs

You could add additional configuration after the initial installation, if you wanted, or have this package simply install the software, and have a separate package for applying configuration!

Considering Uninstallation

Chocolatey will handle uninstallation of most software installed like this automatically. However, if you find that you have software that is not removed cleanly, you can provide a chocolateyUninstall.ps1 script to run when the package is removed.

The logic present in the uninstall script provided by the template is a basic version of this.

This can also be used to clean up user data, or to roll-back configuration changes made - but that will be more useful in later package types.

In the case of the example package, Chocolatey handles it well - so you can remove the tools\chocolateyUninstall.ps1 file if you want.

Compiling Your Package

You can now run choco pack to compile your Chocolatey package, creating a file with a .nupkg extension, ready for installation!

  1. In VS Code, press Ctrl+Shift+P or use the View menu and click on Command Palette.
  2. Select Chocolatey: Package Chocolatey package(s) from the prompt.
  3. Select firefox-msi.nuspec from the prompt.
  4. In Additional Arguments enter --output-directory='~\tutorials' (or whichever directory you're using for these tutorials), and press Enter.

You should have a new package generated in your current working directory.

Installing Your Package

You can now test installation of your package!

We prefer to test this in a Windows Sandbox environment, or the Chocolatey Test Environment (particularly if you already have an installation of Firefox present) - but you can just use your computer, if you want.

:choco-warning: Beware that installing and uninstalling the example package may affect existing installations of Firefox (as you're essentially testing in production).

In an elevated PowerShell command prompt run the following:

choco install firefox-msi --source='tutorials' -y

The command should run, and Firefox should be installed! You should be able to find it in the Start Menu, in the install location in Program Files, and within Programs and Features.

Uninstalling Your Package

You should be able to test the uninstall by running the following command in an elevated PowerShell command prompt:

choco uninstall firefox-msi -y

The package should be uninstalled, along with the software. It should not be present in the Start Menu, the install location, or Programs and Features.


At this point, you should have a working MSI package! Congratulations! Hopefully you can apply this to other MSIs!