Build specific targets in solutions by using MSBuild.exe

You can use MSBuild.exe to build specific targets of specific projects in a solution.

To build a specific target of a specific project in a solution

  1. At the command line, change directory to the solution folder and type MSBuild.exe <SolutionName>.sln, but don't hit enter yet. Use your solution name.

  2. Specify the target after the -target: switch in the format <ProjectName>:<TargetName>. If the project name contains any of the characters %, $, @, ;, ., (, ), or ', replace them with an _ in the specified target name.

If you're not sure what targets are available, you can get a list of targets available for a single project by invoking MSBuild with the -targets (-ts) switch. For example, MSBuild.exe -ts SomeProject.proj. The -targets or -ts option is only available on project files, not the solution file.


The following example executes the Rebuild target of the NotInSlnFolder project, and then executes the Clean target of the InSolutionFolder project, which is located in the NewFolder solution folder.

msbuild SlnFolders.sln -target:NotInSlnfolder:Rebuild;NewFolder\InSolutionFolder:Clean

Building a specific target also triggers other dependent targets to build.


If you would like to examine the solution project, you can use a debugging option provided by MSBuild to do so. Set the environment variable MSBUILDEMITSOLUTION=1 and build your solution. This will produce an MSBuild file named <SolutionName>.sln.metaproj that shows MSBuild's internal view of the solution at build time. You can inspect this view to determine what targets are available to build, and other configuration details.

Do not build with this environment variable set unless you need this internal view. This setting can cause problems building projects in your solution. Look in the binary log instead.