Q&A : Response Files

        The setup.exe files generated with InstallShield support the creation and use of Response file\Answer files that can be used for silent Install\Uninstall of applications. Here I’m sharing with you some of the information about this method.

What is a Response file?

A response file is a plain text file consisting of sections containing data entries.A response file contains information similar to what an end user would enter as responses to dialog boxes when running a normal setup. InstallShield Silently reads the necessary input from the response file at run time. The format of response files resembles that of an .ini file, but response files have .iss extensions.  The best way to create an InstallShield Silent response file is to run the setup and have InstallShield automatically record and create the response file. If necessary, the response file can be manually edited after it is created.


All passwords are saved in human readable form in the recorded silent setup file.

What are the Command line switches for Setup.exe?

/f1<path\ResponseFile> or -f1<path\ResponseFile>

Specifies an alternate location and name of the response file (.iss file). If this option is used when running InstallShield Silent, the response file is read from the folder/file specified by<path\ResponseFile>. If this option is used along with the -r option, the response file is written to the folder/file specified by<path\ResponseFile>.

/f2<path\LogFile> or -f2<path\LogFile>

Specifies an alternate location and name of the log file created by InstallShield Silent. By default, Setup.log  is created and stored in the same directory as that of Setup.exe.

/r or -r

Causes Setup.exe automatically to generate a silent setup file (.iss file), which is a record of the setup input.

/s or -s

Runs the setup silently.


Separate multiple command line switches with a space, but do not put a space inside a command line switch (for example, /r /f1Install.iss is valid, but not /r/f1 Install.iss).

When using long path and filename expressions with switches, enclose the expressions in double quotation marks. The enclosing double quotes tell the operating system that spaces within the quotation marks are not to be treated as command line delimiters.

How to Create a response file?

  1. Open a DOS window (Command Prompt).
  2. Type the directory path of the Setup.exe. If spaces appear in the path, place quotes around the path. For example:
    “C:\Test Response File\Setup.exe”
  3. Type a space, then type the command line switches to use. For example:
    “C:\Test Response File\Setup.exe” -r -f1C:\Install.iss
    The above switches record a silent setup file to the file C:\Install.iss
    Press Enter.
    The Setup program runs.
  4. Complete the installation or uninstallation process as you normally would.
    All responses are recorded for use when Setup is run silently.

After the file is recorded, you can verify your responses by viewing the silent setup file in Notepad or Wordpad.

How to Install with the silent option ?

  1. Open a DOS window (Command Prompt).
  2. Type the directory path of the Setup.exe. If spaces appear in the path, place quotes around the path. For example:
    “C:\Test Response File\Setup.exe”
  3. Type a space, then type the command line switches to use. For example:
    “C:\Test Response File\Setup.exe” -s -f1C:\Install.iss
    The above switches read a silent setup file at the location C:\Install.iss
  4. Press Enter.
    Setup runs silently without asking for user feedback.
  5. Verify the process was completed properly. For example, if you used Setup to install BMC Remedy, be sure BMC Remedy is running properly.


A Setup run in silent mode uses the same settings as the Setup you ran through to create the response file. Essentially, you are creating clone installations.

How to Troubleshoot errors ?

Setup.log is the default name for the silent setup log file that contains the results of the last run of a silent setup. This file is saved in the same location as the recorded .iss file. The result code shown in the file is one of the following:

0   Success.

-1 General error.

-2 Invalid mode.

-3 Required data not found in the Setup.iss file.

-4 Not enough memory available.

-5 File does not exist.

-6 Cannot write to the response file.

-7 Unable to write to the log file.

-8 Invalid path to the InstallShield Silent response file.

-9 Not a valid list type (string or number).

-10 Data type is invalid.

-11 Unknown error during setup.

-12 Dialog boxes are out of order.

-51 Cannot create the specified folder.

-52 Cannot access the specified file or folder.

-53 Invalid option selected.


6 Responses to “Q&A : Response Files”

  1. 1 Sreejith Bharathan October 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I have a Question…. please do help me….
    Suppose we have a SETUP that goes for FORCED REBOOT after installation without prompting. So for these kind of applications is there any option to supress the REBOOT in the .ISS file???

  2. 2 Balsaraj October 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    .iss file is going to have the information about what ever the actions your installation does.So while you try to install with the .iss file ,its going to behave as same as how your installation has done while you capture the application.

    Manually modifying the .iss file will be a solution for your question if .iss has captured the reboot.
    Check in .iss file is there an item called BootOption
    Set the value for this to 0 (BootOption=0)

  3. 3 Sreejith Bharathan October 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    If the system goes for reboot automatically, then the value of BootOption in the .ISS file will be 3. Inorder to supress this we need to put the value of BootOption as 0….

  4. 4 Sreejith Bharathan October 16, 2009 at 9:38 am

    More details about Response files:

    We cannot use them in applications where per-user configuration is required during installation

    If suppose your application is getting installed in C Drive and you dont have an option to change the install location during installation. Then edit the response file and in the install location put it as PROGRAMFILES\APPNAME. There is no need to put “%” for PROGRAMFILES.

    The sections of an InstallShield response file must have the following and it should be in the following order:

    Silent Header Section
    Application Header Section
    Dialog Sequence Section
    Dialog Data Sections (one per dialog box)

  5. 5 Ashiq A. February 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I have a response file with BootOption=0 (I even re-recorded it instead of appending it), and it still forces a reboot. I’m quite confused. Is there something I’m missing?

  6. 6 SHilpa May 3, 2012 at 5:18 am


    I would like to know if there is any way to continue creation of response file after reboot of machine because my setup reboots in between and resumes after restart. Pla help me onthis

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