Default Document <defaultDocument>


The <defaultDocument> element allows you to enable or disable default document behavior for your Web site or application. This element contains a <files> child element, which contains a collection of <add> elements. Each <add> element defines the default documents that the site or application will return to a client browser when the site receives a request to the root directory.

The <defaultDocument> element can also contain one or more <remove> elements. Each <remove> element removes a specific default document file inherited from a higher-level configuration file on the Internet Information Services (IIS) 7 server. You can also use the <clear> element to remove all default document settings defined higher in the configuration hierarchy.

Default documents are enabled by default, and IIS 7 defines the following default document files in the ApplicationHost.config file as server-wide defaults:

  • Default.htm
  • Default.asp
  • Index.htm
  • Index.html
  • Iisstart.htm

(If you install ASP.NET on your Web server, the installation process will add the Default.aspx file to this list.)

By default, when a request arrives for your site's or application's root directory, IIS 7 sends a response to the browser based on the file names you defined in the <defaultDocument> element. IIS attempts to return the correct files in the order that they appear in the <defaultDocument> element. If the Default.htm file exists, IIS sends it to the client browser. If the Default.htm file does not exist, IIS attempts to send the Default.asp file to the browser, and if the Default.asp file does not exist, IIS attempts to send the Index.htm file to the browser. IIS continues in this manner until it attempts to send each default document file to the client browser.


If you order this list of default documents correctly, you can improve the performance of IIS. For example, if you intended to use Index.php for the home page in all the folders of your Web site and you add Index.php to the bottom of the list of default documents, IIS will have to check for each of the default documents in the list before attempting to return Index.php to the client browser. Depending on the number of folders in your Web site and the number of client browser requests, this may impact your performance.

If you disable default documents but have enabled directory browsing, IIS returns a directory listing when a request for the root directory arrives from a browser. If you disable both default documents and directory browsing, IIS sends an "HTTP 404 File Does Not Exist" error to the browser.


Version Notes
IIS 10.0 The <defaultDocument> element was not modified in IIS 10.0.
IIS 8.5 The <defaultDocument> element was not modified in IIS 8.5.
IIS 8.0 The <defaultDocument> element was not modified in IIS 8.0.
IIS 7.5 The <defaultDocument> element was not modified in IIS 7.5.
IIS 7.0 The <defaultDocument> element was introduced in IIS 7.0.
IIS 6.0 The <defaultDocument> element replaces the IIS 6.0 DefaultDoc property and the EnableDefaultDoc value of the DirBrowseFlags property on the IIsWebService metabase object.


The <defaultDocument> element is included in the default installation of IIS 7.

How To

How to add a default document for an application or site

  1. Open Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager:

    • If you are using Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2:

      • On the taskbar, click Server Manager, click Tools, and then click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
    • If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 8.1:

      • Hold down the Windows key, press the letter X, and then click Control Panel.
      • Click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
    • If you are using Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2:

      • On the taskbar, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
    • If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7:

      • On the taskbar, click Start, and then click Control Panel.
      • Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
  2. In the Connections pane, expand the server name, expand Sites, and then navigate to the Web site or application where you want to configure default documents.

  3. In the Home pane, double-click Default Document.
    Screenshot of the Home pane with the Default Document option being highlighted.

  4. In the Actions pane, click Add...

  5. In the Add Default Document dialog box, type the name of the default document that you want to add in the Name box, and then click OK.
    Screenshot of the Add Default Document dialog box.

  6. If necessary, in the Actions pane, select a default document in the list, and then click Move Up or Move Down to define the order in which IIS should search through the default document list.

  7. In the Default Document alert box, click Yes to decline configuration inheritance from a parent configuration level, or click No or Cancel to cancel the change in default document order.
    Screenshot of the Default Document alert box with a focus on the Yes option.

  8. If necessary, click Remove in the Actions pane to remove any file names that you do not want to use as default documents.


You can change the order in which IIS processes default documents by changing the order of <add> elements in the <defaultDocument> element.

You can configure the <defaultDocument> element at the server level in the ApplicationHost.config file and at the site, application, or URL level in the appropriate Web.config file.


Attribute Description
enabled Optional Boolean attribute.

Specifies that default documents are enabled.

The default value is true.

Child Elements

Element Description
files Optional element.

Specifies a list of file names that can be returned as default documents.

Configuration Sample

The following configuration example, when included in a Web.config file for a site or application, enables default documents for the site or application. It then adds the file name "Home.html" to the list of the site's or application's default documents.

      <defaultDocument enabled="true">
            <add value="home.html" />

Sample Code

The following examples enable default documents on a Web site named Contoso then add a file named Home.html to the list of default documents for the site.


appcmd.exe set config "Contoso" /section:defaultDocument /enabled:true /+files.[value='home.html']


using System;
using System.Text;
using Microsoft.Web.Administration;

internal static class Sample {

    private static void Main() {
        using(ServerManager serverManager = new ServerManager()) { 
            Configuration config = serverManager.GetWebConfiguration("Contoso");
            ConfigurationSection defaultDocumentSection = config.GetSection("system.webServer/defaultDocument");
            defaultDocumentSection["enabled"] = true;
            ConfigurationElementCollection filesCollection = defaultDocumentSection.GetCollection("files");
            ConfigurationElement addElement = filesCollection.CreateElement("add");
            addElement["value"] = @"home.html";
            filesCollection.AddAt(0, addElement);


Imports System
Imports System.Text
Imports Microsoft.Web.Administration

Class Sample
   Shared Sub Main()
      Dim serverManager As ServerManager = New ServerManager
      Dim config As Configuration = serverManager.GetWebConfiguration("Contoso")
      Dim defaultDocumentSection As ConfigurationSection = config.GetSection("system.webServer/defaultDocument")

      defaultDocumentSection("enabled") = True

      Dim filesCollection As ConfigurationElementCollection = defaultDocumentSection.GetCollection("files")
      Dim addElement As ConfigurationElement = filesCollection.CreateElement("add")
      addElement("value") = "home.html"
      filesCollection.AddAt(0, addElement)

   End Sub
End Class


var adminManager = new ActiveXObject('Microsoft.ApplicationHost.WritableAdminManager');
adminManager.CommitPath = "MACHINE/WEBROOT/APPHOST/Contoso";

var defaultDocumentSection = adminManager.GetAdminSection("system.webServer/defaultDocument",

defaultDocumentSection.Properties.Item("enabled").Value = true;

var filesCollection = defaultDocumentSection.ChildElements.Item("files").Collection;

var addElement = filesCollection.CreateNewElement("add");
addElement.Properties.Item("value").Value = "home.html";
filesCollection.AddElement(addElement, 0);



Set adminManager = WScript.CreateObject("Microsoft.ApplicationHost.WritableAdminManager")
adminManager.CommitPath = "MACHINE/WEBROOT/APPHOST/Contoso"

Set defaultDocumentSection = adminManager.GetAdminSection("system.webServer/defaultDocument", _

defaultDocumentSection.Properties.Item("enabled").Value = True  

Set filesCollection = defaultDocumentSection.ChildElements.Item("files").Collection

Set addElement = filesCollection.CreateNewElement("add")
addElement.Properties.Item("value").Value = "home.html"
filesCollection.AddElement addElement, 0