Desktop app that calls web APIs: Acquire a token interactively

The following example shows minimal code to get a token interactively for reading the user's profile with Microsoft Graph.

Code in MSAL.NET

string[] scopes = new string[] { "" };

var app = PublicClientApplicationBuilder.Create("YOUR_CLIENT_ID")

var accounts = await app.GetAccountsAsync();

AuthenticationResult result;
    result = await app.AcquireTokenSilent(scopes, accounts.FirstOrDefault())
catch (MsalUiRequiredException)
    result = await app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopes).ExecuteAsync();

Mandatory parameters

AcquireTokenInteractive has only one mandatory parameter, scopes. It contains an enumeration of strings that define the scopes for which a token is required. If the token is for Microsoft Graph, you can find the required scopes in the API reference of each Microsoft Graph API in the section named "Permissions." For instance, to list the user's contacts, you must use both User.Read and Contacts.Read as the scope. For more information, see Microsoft Graph permissions reference.

On both desktop and mobile applications, it's important to specify the parent by using .WithParentActivityOrWindow. In many cases, it's a requirement and MSAL will throw exceptions.

For desktop applications, see Parent window handles.

For mobile applications, provide Activity (Android) or UIViewController (iOS).

Optional parameters in MSAL.NET


The UI is important because it's interactive. AcquireTokenInteractive has one specific optional parameter that can specify (for platforms that support it) the parent UI. When you use .WithParentActivityOrWindow in a desktop application, it has a different type that depends on the platform.

Alternatively, you can omit the optional parent window parameter to create a window, if you don't want to control where the sign-in dialog appears on the screen. This option is applicable for applications that are based on a command line, are used to pass calls to any other back-end service, and don't need any windows for user interaction.

// net45
WithParentActivityOrWindow(IntPtr windowPtr)
WithParentActivityOrWindow(IWin32Window window)

// Mac
WithParentActivityOrWindow(NSWindow window)

// .NET Standard (this will be on all platforms at runtime, but only on .NET Standard platforms at build time)
WithParentActivityOrWindow(object parent).


  • On .NET Standard, the expected object value is Activity on Android, UIViewController on iOS, NSWindow on Mac, and IWin32Window or IntPr on Windows.

  • On Windows, you must call AcquireTokenInteractive from the UI thread so that the embedded browser gets the appropriate UI synchronization context. Not calling from the UI thread might cause messages to not pump properly and cause deadlock scenarios with the UI. One way of calling the Microsoft Authentication Library (MSAL) from the UI thread if you aren't on the UI thread already is to use Dispatcher on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

  • If you're using WPF, to get a window from a WPF control, you can use the WindowInteropHelper.Handle class. Then the call is from a WPF control (this):

    result = await app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopes)
                      .WithParentActivityOrWindow(new WindowInteropHelper(this).Handle)


You use WithPrompt() to control the interactivity with the user by specifying a prompt. You can control the exact behavior by using the Microsoft.Identity.Client.Prompt structure.

The structure defines the following constants:

  • SelectAccount forces the security token service (STS) to present the account selection dialog that contains accounts for which the user has a session. This option is the default. It's useful when you want to let users choose among different identities.

    This option drives MSAL to send prompt=select_account to the identity provider. It provides the best possible experience based on available information, such as the account and the presence of a session for the user. Don't change it unless you have a good reason.

  • Consent enables you to force the user to be prompted for consent, even if the application granted consent before. In this case, MSAL sends prompt=consent to the identity provider. You can use this option in some security-focused applications where the organization's governance demands that the consent dialog box appears each time the user opens the application.

  • ForceLogin enables you to have the application prompt the user for credentials, even if this user prompt might not be needed. This option can be useful to let the user sign in again if token acquisition fails. In this case, MSAL sends prompt=login to the identity provider. Organizations sometimes use this option in security-focused applications where governance demands that users sign in each time they access specific parts of an application.

  • Create triggers a sign-up experience for external identities by sending prompt=create to the identity provider. Azure Active Directory B2C (Azure AD B2C) apps shouldn't send this prompt. For more information, see Add a self-service sign-up user flow to an app.

  • Never (for .NET 4.5 and Windows Runtime only) doesn't prompt the user. Instead, it tries to use the cookie stored in the hidden embedded web view.

    Use of this option might fail. In that case, AcquireTokenInteractive throws an exception to notify you that you need a UI interaction. Then, use another Prompt parameter.

  • NoPrompt doesn't send any prompt to the identity provider. The identity provider decides which sign-in experience is best for the user (single sign-on or select account).

    This option is mandatory for editing profile policies in Azure AD B2C. For more information, see Azure AD B2C specifics.


This method enables you to specify if you want to force the usage of an embedded WebView or the system WebView (when available). For more information, see Usage of web browsers.

var result = await app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopes)


This modifier is for advanced scenarios where you want the user to consent to several resources up front and you don't want to use incremental consent. Developers normally use incremental consent with MSAL.NET and the Microsoft identity platform. For more information, see Have the user consent up front for several resources.

var result = await app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopesForCustomerApi)


A web UI is a mechanism to invoke a browser. This mechanism can be a dedicated UI WebBrowser control or a way to delegate opening the browser. MSAL provides web UI implementations for most platforms, but you might want to host the browser yourself in these cases:

  • You have platforms that MSAL doesn't explicitly cover, like Blazor, Unity, and Mono on desktops.
  • You want to UI test your application and use an automated browser that can be used with Selenium.
  • The browser and the app that run MSAL are in separate processes.

To achieve this, you give to MSAL start Url, which needs to be displayed in a browser so that users can enter items such as their username. After authentication finishes, your app needs to pass back to MSAL end Url, which contains a code that Microsoft Entra ID provides. The host of end Url is always redirectUri. To intercept end Url, do one of the following things:

  • Monitor browser redirects until redirect Url is hit.
  • Have the browser redirect to a URL that you monitor.

WithCustomWebUi is an extensibility point that you can use to provide your own UI in public client applications. You can also let users go through the /Authorize endpoint of the identity provider and let them sign in and consent. MSAL.NET can then redeem the authentication code and get a token.

For example, you can use WithCustomWebUi in Visual Studio to have Electron applications (for instance, Visual Studio Feedback) provide the web interaction, but leave it to MSAL.NET to do most of the work. You can also use WithCustomWebUi if you want to provide UI automation.

In public client applications, MSAL.NET uses the Proof Key for Code Exchange (PKCE) standard to ensure that security is respected. Only MSAL.NET can redeem the code. For more information, see RFC 7636 - Proof Key for Code Exchange by OAuth Public Clients.

using Microsoft.Identity.Client.Extensions;
Use WithCustomWebUI

To use WithCustomWebUI, follow these steps:

  1. Implement the ICustomWebUi interface. For more information, see this GitHub page.

  2. Implement one AcquireAuthorizationCodeAsyncmethod and accept the authorization code URL that MSAL.NET computes.

  3. Let the user go through the interaction with the identity provider and return the URL that the identity provider used to call back your implementation, along with the authorization code. If you have problems, your implementation should throw an MsalExtensionException exception to cooperate with MSAL.

  4. In your AcquireTokenInteractive call, use the .WithCustomUI() modifier by passing the instance of your custom web UI:

    result = await app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopes)

The MSAL.NET team has rewritten the UI tests to use this extensibility mechanism. If you're interested, view the SeleniumWebUI class in the MSAL.NET source code.

Provide a great experience with SystemWebViewOptions

From MSAL.NET 4.1 SystemWebViewOptions, you can specify:

  • The URI to go to (BrowserRedirectError) or the HTML fragment to display (HtmlMessageError) if sign-in or consent errors appear in the system web browser.
  • The URI to go to (BrowserRedirectSuccess) or the HTML fragment to display (HtmlMessageSuccess) if sign-in or consent is successful.
  • The action to run to start the system browser. You can provide your own implementation by setting the OpenBrowserAsync delegate. The class also provides a default implementation for two browsers: OpenWithEdgeBrowserAsync for Microsoft Edge and OpenWithChromeEdgeBrowserAsync for Microsoft Edge on Chromium.

To use this structure, write something like the following example:

IPublicClientApplication app;

options = new SystemWebViewOptions
 HtmlMessageError = "<b>Sign-in failed. You can close this tab ...</b>",
 BrowserRedirectSuccess = ""

var result = app.AcquireTokenInteractive(scopes)
                .WithEmbeddedWebView(false)       // The default in .NET

Other optional parameters

To learn about the other optional parameters for AcquireTokenInteractive, see AcquireTokenInteractiveParameterBuilder.

Next steps

Move on to the next article in this scenario, Call a web API from the desktop app.