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Instructions for setting up the .NET Core debugger

This page gives you detailed instructions on how to debug code running under .NET Core in VS Code.

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  • Requires .NET Core 1.0 (rc2 are earlier releases are not supported)
  • X64 only
  • Supported operating systems:
    • macOS: 10.11+ (El Capitan+)
    • Linux: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2+, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Debian 8.2+, Linux Mint 17+, CentOS 7.1+, Oracle Linux 7.1+, Fedora 23, openSUSE 13.2
    • Windows: 7+

First Time setup

1: Get Visual Studio Code

Install Visual Studio Code (VSC). Pick the latest VSC version from here: Make sure it is at least 0.10.10.

If you are not sure what version you have, you can see your version of VS Code:

  • OSX: Code->About Visual Studio Code
  • Windows / Linux: Help->About
2: Install .NET command line tools

Install the .NET Core command line tools (CLI) by following the installation part of the instructions here:

OSX: .NET Core requires openSSL to work. Don't forget this! Execute: brew install openssl

3: Install C# Extension for VS Code

Open the command palette in VS Code (F1) and type "ext install C#" to trigger the installation of the extension. VS Code will show a message that the extension has been installed and it will restart.

If you have previously installed the C# extension, make sure that you have version 1.2 or newer. You can check this by opening the command palette (F1) and running 'Extensions: Show Installed Extensions'.

4: Wait for download of platform-specific files

The first time that C# code is opened in VS Code, the extension will download the platform-specific files needed for debugging and editing. Debugging and editor features will not work until these steps finish.

Once for each project

The following steps have to executed for every project.

1: Get a project

You can start from scratch by creating an empty project with dotnet new:

cd ~
mkdir MyApplication
cd MyApplication
dotnet new
dotnet restore

You can also find some example projects on

2: Open the directory in VS Code

Go to File->Open and open the directory in Visual Studio Code. If this is the first time that the C# extension has been activated, it will now download additional platform-specific dependencies.

Troubleshooting 'Error while installing .NET Core Debugger': If the debugger is failing to download its platform-specific dependencies, first verify that you have the 1.0.0-preview2-003121 or newer build of the .NET CLI installed, and it is functioning. You can check this by starting a bash/command prompt and running 'dotnet --info'.

If the CLI is installed, here are a few additional suggestions:

  • If clicking on 'View Log' doesn't show a log this means that running the 'dotnet --info' command failed. If it succeeds in bash/command prompt, but fails from VS Code, this likely means that your computer once had an older build of .NET CLI installed, and there are still remnants of it which cause VS Code and other processes besides bash to use the older version instead of the current version. You can resolve this issue by uninstalling the .NET Core CLI, and reinstalling the version you want (see below for macOS).
  • If 'dotnet restore' is failing, make sure you have an internet connection to, and make sure that if additional NuGet.Config files are being used, they have valid content. The log will indicate what NuGet.Config files were used. Try removing the files other than the one coming from the extension itself.

MacOS .NET CLI Reinstall Instructions: macOS doesn't have uninstall for pkg files (see known issue), one option is to remove the dotnet cli directory with sudo rm -rf /usr/local/share/dotnet and then install the pkg again.

3: Add VS Code configuration files to the workspace

VS Code needs to be configured so it understands how to build your project and debug it. For this there are two files which need to be added -- .vscode/tasks.json and .vscode/launch.json.

  • Tasks.json is used to configure what command line command is executed to build your project, and launch.json configures the type of debugger you want to use, and what program should be run under that debugger.
  • Launch.json configures VS Code to run the build task from tasks.json so that your program is automatically up-to-date each time you go to debug it.

If you open the folder containing your project.json, the C# extension can automatically generate these files for you if you have a basic project. When you open a project and the C# extension is installed, you should see the following prompt in VS Code:

Info: Required assets to build and debug are missing from your project. Add them? Yes | Close

Clicking 'Yes' on this prompt should add these resources.

Creating configuration files manually

If your code has multiple projects or you would rather generate these files by hand, here is how --

.vscode/tasks.json: Start with this example which configures VS Code to launch 'dotnet build'. Update the 'cwd' property if your project isn't in the root of the open folder. If you don't want to build from VS Code at all, you can skip this file. If you do this, you will need to comment out the 'preLaunchTask' from .vscode/launch.json when you create it.

.vscode/launch.json: When you want to start debugging, press the debugger play button (or hit F5) as you would normally do. VS Code will provide a list of templates to select from. Pick ".NET Core" from this list and the edit the 'program' property to indicate the path to the application dll or .NET Core host executable to launch. For example:

"configurations": [
        "program": "${workspaceRoot}/MyLaunchingProject/bin/Debug/netcoreapp1.0/MyLaunchingProject.dll",
4: Windows Only: Enable Portable PDBs

In the future, this step will go away, but for now you need to change the project.json to use portable PDBs.

5: Pick your debug configuration

The default launch.json offers several different launch configurations depending on what kind of app you are building -- one for command line, one for web, and one for attaching to a running process.

To configure which configuration you want, bring up the Debug view by clicking on the Debugging icon in the View Bar on the side of VS Code.

Debug view icon

Now open the configuration drop down from the top and select the one you want.

Debug launch configuration drop down

Debugging Code compiled on another computer

  • If the target binary is built on Linux / OSX, dotnet CLI will produce portable pdbs by default so no action is necessary.
  • On Windows, you will need to take additional steps to build portable PDBs.

More things to configure In launch.json

Just My Code

You can optionally disable justMyCode by setting it to "false". You should disable Just My Code when you are trying to debug into a library that you pulled down which doesn't have symbols or is optimized.


Just My Code is a set of features that makes it easier to focus on debugging your code by hiding some of the details of optimized libraries that you might be using, like the .NET Framework itself. The most important sub parts of this feature are --

  • User-unhandled exceptions: automatically stop the debugger just before exceptions are about to be caught by the framework
  • Just My Code stepping: when stepping, if framework code calls back to user code, automatically stop.
Source File Map

You can optionally configure a file by file mapping by providing map following this schema:

"sourceFileMap": {
Symbol Path

You can optionally provide paths to symbols following this schema:

"symbolPath":"[ \"/Volumes/symbols\"]"
Environment variables

Environment variables may be passed to your program using this schema:

"env": {
External console (terminal) window

The target process can optionally launch into a separate console window. You will want this if your console app takes console input (ex: Console.ReadLine). This can be enabled with:

"externalConsole": true
Stepping into properties and operators

The debugger steps over properties and operators in managed code by default. In most cases, this provides a better debugging experience. To change this and enable stepping into properties or operators add:

"enableStepFiltering": false

Attach Support

The C# debugger supports attaching to processes. To do this, switch to the Debug tab, and open the configuration drop down.

Debug launch configuration drop down

Select the '.NET Core Attach' configuration. Clicking the play button (or pressing F5) will then try to attach. In launch.json, if processId is set to "${command.pickProcess}" this will provide UI to select which process to attach to.

Docker Support

Using Visual Studio Code and the C# extension it is also possible to debug your code running in a Docker container. To do so, follow instructions to install and run yo docker. This will add files to your project to build a container, and it will add a new debug launch configuration which will invoke a container build, and then debug your app in the container.

Remote Debugging

In addition to Docker, it is also possible to setup the debugger to remotely attach or launch using other transports (ex: SSH). See Attaching to remote processes in the wiki for more information.