Setting desktop application properties

Set the basic application properties in the application descriptor file. This section covers the properties relevant to desktop AIR applications. The elements of the application descriptor file are fully described in AIR application descriptor files.

Required AIR runtime version

Specify the version of the AIR runtime required by your application using the namespace of the application descriptor file.

The namespace, assigned in the application element, determines, in large part, which features your application can use. For example, if your application uses the AIR 1.5 namespace, and the user has AIR 3.0 installed, then your application sees the AIR 1.5 behavior (even if the behavior has been changed in AIR 3.0). Only when you change the namespace and publish an update will your application have access to the new behavior and features. Security and WebKit changes are the primary exceptions to this policy.

Specify the namespace using the xmlns attribute of the root application element:

<application xmlns="">

Application identity

Several settings should be unique for each application that you publish. The unique settings include the ID, the name, and the filename.

<name>My Application</name> 

Application version

In versions of AIR earlier than AIR 2.5, specify the application in the version element. You can use any string. The AIR runtime does not interpret the string; “2.0” is not treated as a higher version than “1.0.”

<!-- AIR 2 or earlier --> 
<version>1.23 Beta 7</version>

In AIR 2.5 and later, specify the application version in the versionNumber element. The version element can no longer be used. When specifying a value for versionNumber, you must use a sequence of up to three numbers separated by dots, such as: “0.1.2”. Each segment of the version number can have up to three digits. (In other words, “999.999.999” is the largest version number permitted.) You do not have to include all three segments in the number; “1” and “1.0” are legal version numbers as well.

You can also specify a label for the version using the versionLabel element. When you add a version label, it is displayed instead of the version number in such places as the AIR application installer dialogs.

<!-- AIR 2.5 and later --> 
<versionLabel>1.23 Beta 7</versionLabel>

Main window properties

When AIR starts an application on the desktop, it creates a window and loads the main SWF file or HTML page into it. AIR uses the child elements of the initialWindow element control the initial appearance and behavior of this initial application window.

  • content — The main application SWF file in the content child of the initalWindow element. When you target devices in the desktop profile, you can use a SWF or an HTML file.


    You must include the file in the AIR package (using ADT or your IDE). Simply referencing the name in the application descriptor does not cause the file to be included in the package automatically.

  • depthAndStencil — Specifies to use the depth or stencil buffer. You typically use these buffers when working with 3D content.

  • height — The height of the initial window.

  • maximizable — Whether the system chrome for maximizing the window is shown.

  • maxSize — The maximum size allowed.

  • minimizable — Whether the system chrome for minimizing the window is shown.

  • minSize — The minimum size allowed.

  • renderMode — In AIR 3 or later, the render mode can be set to auto, cpu, direct, or gpu for desktop applications. In earlier versions of AIR, this setting is ignored on desktop platforms. The renderMode setting cannot be changed at run time.

    • auto — essentially the same as cpu mode.

    • cpu — display objects are rendered and copied to display memory in software. StageVideo is only available when a window is in fullscreen mode. Stage3D uses the software renderer.

    • direct — display objects are rendered by the runtime software, but copying the rendered frame to display memory (blitting) is hardware accelerated. StageVideo is available. Stage3D uses hardware acceleration, if otherwise possible. If window transparency is set to true, then the window “falls back” to software rendering and blitting.

      Note: In order to leverage GPU acceleration of Flash content with AIR for mobile platforms, Adobe recommends that you use renderMode="direct" (that is, Stage3D) rather than renderMode="gpu". Adobe officially supports and recommends the following Stage3D based frameworks: Starling (2D) and Away3D (3D). For more details on Stage3D and Starling/Away3D, see
    • gpu — hardware acceleration is used, if available.

  • requestedDisplayResolution — Whether your application should use the standard or high resolution mode on MacBook Pro computers with high-resolution screens. On all other platforms the value is ignored. If the value is standard, each stage pixel renders as four pixels on the screen. If the value is high, each stage pixel corresponds to a single physical pixel on the screen. The specified value is used for all application windows. Using the requestedDisplayResolution element for desktop AIR applications (as a child of the intialWindow element) is available in AIR 3.6 and later.

  • resizable — Whether the system chrome for resizing the window is shown.

  • systemChrome — Whether the standard operating system window dressing is used. The systemChrome setting of a window cannot be changed at run time.

  • title — The title of the window.

  • transparent — Whether the window is alpha-blended against the background. The window cannot use system chrome if transparency is turned on. The transparent setting of a window cannot be changed at run time.

  • visible — Whether the window is visible as soon as it is created. By default, the window is not visible initially so that your application can draw its contents before making itself visible.

  • width — The width of the window.

  • x — The horizontal position of the window.

  • y — The vertical position of the window.

Desktop features

The following elements control desktop installation and update features.

  • customUpdateUI — Allows you to provide your own dialogs for updating an application. If set to false, the default, then the standard AIR dialogs are used.

  • fileTypes — Specifies the types of files that your application would like to register for as the default opening application. If another application is already the default opener for a file type, then AIR does not override the existing registration. However, your application can override the registration at runtime using the setAsDefaultApplication() method of the NativeApplication object. It is good form to ask for the user’s permission before overriding their existing file type associations.

    Note: File type registration is ignored when you package an application as a captive runtime bundle (using the -bundle target). To register a given file type, you must create an installer program that performs the registration.
  • installFolder — Specifies a path relative to the standard application installation folder into which the application is installed. You can use this setting to provide a custom folder name as well as to group multiple applications within a common folder.

  • programMenuFolder — Specifies the menu hierarchy for the Windows All Programs menu. You can use this setting to group multiple applications within a common menu. If no menu folder is specified, the application shortcut is added directly to the main menu.

Supported profiles

If your application only makes sense on the desktop, then you can prevent it from being installed on devices in another profile by excluding that profile from the supported profiles list. If your application uses the NativeProcess class or native extensions, then you must support the extendedDesktop profile.

If you leave the supportedProfile element out of the application descriptor, then it is assumed that your application supports all the defined profiles. To restrict your application to a specific list of profiles, list the profiles, separated by whitespace:

<supportedProfiles>desktop extendedDesktop</supportedProfiles>

For a list of ActionScript classes supported in the desktop and extendedDesktop profile, see Capabilities of different profiles.

Required native extensions

Applications that support the extendedDesktop profile can use native extensions.

Declare all native extensions that the AIR application uses in the application descriptor. The following example illustrates the syntax for specifying two required native extensions:


The extensionID element has the same value as the id element in the extension descriptor file. The extension descriptor file is an XML file called extension.xml. It is packaged in the ANE file you receive from the native extension developer.

Application icons

On the desktop, the icons specified in the application descriptor are used as the application file, shortcut, and program menu icons. The application icon should be supplied as a set of 16x16-, 32x32-, 48x48-, and 128x128-pixel PNG images. Specify the path to the icon files in the icon element of the application descriptor file:


If you do not supply an icon of a given size, the next largest size is used and scaled to fit. If you do not supply any icons, a default system icon is used.

Ignored settings

Applications on the desktop ignore application settings that apply to mobile profile features. The ignored settings are:

  • android

  • aspectRatio

  • autoOrients

  • fullScreen

  • iPhone

  • renderMode (prior to AIR 3)

  • requestedDisplayResolution

  • softKeyboardBehavior

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