Configuration in .NET

Configuration in .NET is performed using one or more configuration providers. Configuration providers read configuration data from key-value pairs using a variety of configuration sources:

  • Settings files, such as appsettings.json
  • Environment variables
  • Azure Key Vault
  • Azure App Configuration
  • Command-line arguments
  • Custom providers, installed or created
  • Directory files
  • In-memory .NET objects

Configure console apps

New .NET console applications created using dotnet new or Visual Studio by default do not expose configuration capabilities. To add configuration in a new .NET console application, add a package reference to Microsoft.Extensions.Hosting. Modify the Program.cs file to match the following code:

using Microsoft.Extensions.Hosting;

namespace Console.Example;

class Program
    static async Task Main(string[] args)
        using IHost host = CreateHostBuilder(args).Build();

        // Application code should start here.

        await host.RunAsync();

    static IHostBuilder CreateHostBuilder(string[] args) =>

The Host.CreateDefaultBuilder(String[]) method provides default configuration for the app in the following order:

  1. ChainedConfigurationProvider : Adds an existing IConfiguration as a source.
  2. appsettings.json using the JSON configuration provider.
  3. appsettings.Environment.json using the JSON configuration provider. For example, appsettings.Production.json and appsettings.Development.json.
  4. App secrets when the app runs in the Development environment.
  5. Environment variables using the Environment Variables configuration provider.
  6. Command-line arguments using the Command-line configuration provider.

Configuration providers that are added later override previous key settings. For example, if SomeKey is set in both appsettings.json and the environment, the environment value is used. Using the default configuration providers, the Command-line configuration provider overrides all other providers.


One of the key advantages to configuration in .NET is the ability to bind configuration values to instances of .NET objects. For example, the JSON configuration provider can be used to map appsettings.json files to .NET objects and is used with dependency injection. This enables the options pattern, the options pattern uses classes to provide strongly typed access to groups of related settings.

Configuration providers

The following table shows the configuration providers available to .NET Core apps.

Provider Provides configuration from
Azure App configuration provider Azure App Configuration
Azure Key Vault configuration provider Azure Key Vault
Command-line configuration provider Command-line parameters
Custom configuration provider Custom source
Environment Variables configuration provider Environment variables
File configuration provider JSON, XML, and INI files
Key-per-file configuration provider Directory files
Memory configuration provider In-memory collections
App secrets (Secret Manager) File in the user profile directory

For more information on various configuration providers, see Configuration providers in .NET.

See also