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How to create MST file (MSI transform)

How to create MST file


MST files are used to apply small configuration changes to MSI files (for instanse, to disable software updates). According to Microsoft best practices, repsonse transfroms should be used to modify Windows Installer (MSI) files. Here you will find out how to create MST file to tune your MSI package – watch our video guide or follow the step-by-step tutorial.



To begin with, choose a scenario that better suits your needs:
  • Create Blank MST.Create a new empty transform file (MST) for your MSI package using MSI Editor. All changes, made to the opened MSI database, will be saved to the MST file.
  • Create Response MST.Capture all your inputs and changes, made to the Windows Installer UI dialogs of the MSI installation, and save them to the MST file using MSI Generator. The MSI installation will be simulated, which allows capturing all necessary changes very promptly and without affecting your real system.
  • Capture System Changes to MST.Capture any changes, made to the file system or registry into MST file, generated against the selected MSI package using MSI Generator.

For this tutorial, we are using PACE Suite application packaging tool. Get a free trial with unlimited functions to try it out. After installing PACE Suite, open MSI Editor.

Create Blank MST

You can skip creating a blank MST at the very beginning and save all your changes, made to the opened MSI database, to the MST file at any time you need by selecting MENU -> Save as MST.

In the MSI Editor, Select Open… from MENU.

create mst file

Choose an MSI package, for which a new blank MST will be created and click Open.

choose msi package

Select New MST… from MENU.

new mst

Specify a destination location and a name of the blank MST file and click Save.

specify a destination

Make necessary changes to the opened MSI database. Find instructions on how to edit MSI in our complete guide. In order to save your MSI package, select Save from the MENU.

save msi package

Create Response MST


On the MSI Edtior start screen, click Create response transform.

create msi transform

Click Browse…, which is located next to the MSI package for tailoring field, to select an MSI package for tailoring.

create mst file for tailoring

Choose an MSI package (in this tutorial, we used VisualSVN-Server-3.2.3-x64.msi), for which you want to create a response transform, and click Open. The Apply transform (optional) and Command-Line options (MSI properties only) fields are optional and they allow applying additional MST and setting MSI properties before the MSI tailoring. Select Ignore MSI launch condition option to skip all condition from the LaunchCondition MSI table.

apply msi transform

Click Next to start the MSI installation simulation.

MSI installation simulation

Complete the simulated MSI installation following the Windows Installer dialogs and choosing options you need to be captured and saved to the response transform. Review captured changes and inputs such as Properties, Features and Dicrectories by opening the respective tab. If needed, you can add or remove a property, a feature, and a directory by clicking the Add or Remove buttons on the respective Properties, Features and Dicrectories tabs. Data from these tabs will be saved to the response transform.

MSI installation simulation

Click Next to to the response transform creation step. If necessary, you can change a name and a destination location of the response transform by clicking the Browse… button. Select a necessary saving option and click Finish to create MST file.

finish creating MSI  transform

Capture System Changes to MST


Click Capture installation and select the Monitoring method.

monitoring method

Please wait a little, while the capturing process is starting. Once the capturing process is started, you will see the dialog as on picture below.

monitoring method is finished

Make any system changes to the file system and registry, which you want to capture and include to the transform (MST) file. For example, create new or copy-paste files and folders, import registry, or, as alternative option, you can launch the application in order to capture necessary application configuration like disabled updates and so on. Click Finish Capturing to complete the capturing process. Please wait a little, while the capturing process is finishing, filtering captured data and creating the project. Once the project is opened, go through the Files, Registry and Shortcuts tabs in order to review captured resources and exclude unnecessary ones from the project. Unnecessary resources are files, registry entries, which are usually created or modified in result of operating system work, and such resources could not be a part of your captured application. Unfortunetly, there is no universal rule to discover which of captured files or registry entries should be excluded, so exclude only those ones, which are almost 100% do not refer to your captured application (e.g. NOD32 antivirus files could be a part of Firefox application)

In order to create MST file from your project, navigate to the Package -> MST tab. Click Browse…, located next to the MSI file name field, to select an MSI against to which you want to create a transform (MST) file.

mst tab in msi editor

Choose an MSI package (e.g. Firefox Installer.msi), for which you want to create a transform file and click Open. Review and update Application Details, Transform options and click Build MST to generate an MSI transform (MST) file.

build mst

Click Go to…, located next to the MST file name field, to open the file containing folder in Windows Explorer.

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