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Configure an Environment for Apps for SharePoint 2013

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Editor's note: Contributor Vlad Catrinescu is a SharePoint Consultant. Follow him @vladcatrinescu

One of the new features of SharePoint 2013 is the SharePoint Store. Similar to the Windows Phone Marketplace and Google Play Store, this new feature gives site owners the ability to discover and download apps for SharePoint from the store and install them on their SharePoint Sites. Furthermore, if you are a developer for your company, you will need to setup your environment to host apps if you want to test them.

The following are examples of apps for SharePoint that site owners could add to their sites:

  • An app that provides event planning tools.
  • An app that provides a shopping cart experience for a site.
  • An app that sends a note of recognition for good work (kudos) to someone in the organization.

When you install SharePoint 2013, by default this functionality is not supported and users will get the following error when they try to install an application.
Sorry, apps are turned off. If you know who runs the server, tell them to enable apps.


This article will provide IT Professionals and Developers a step by step guide with screenshots on how to make your SharePoint 2013 environment capable of using SharePoint Store applications.

This is what you need before you start

  • Have a Farm Administrator account with the DBCreator and SecurityAdmin roles on the SQL Server.
  • Have a Domain Admin account.

Here is a an overview of what we will do

  • Create a forward lookup zone for apps
  • Link the App Domain to the SharePoint Server
  • Start the required Services
  • Create the Subscription Settings and App Management Service Applications
  • Configure The App URL’s in SharePoint
  • Fix the “Out of the Box” errors
  • Test our environment

1. Create a forward lookup zone for apps

SharePoint 2013 Apps have their own, isolated URLs, which are separate from the URLs of the sites where the app is being deployed to and where the app is being used. In order to provide isolation apps should run in their own domain, instead of in the same domain name as your farm. Using a different domain name for apps helps prevent cross-site scripting between apps and SharePoint sites.

Microsoft recommends that the new domain name should NOT be a subdomain of the domain that hosts the SharePoint Sites. For example, if the SharePoint sites are at, consider instead of as the domain name.

  1. Verify that the user account that performs this procedure is a local administrator on the domain controller.
  2. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click DNS.
  3. In DNS Manager, right-click Forward Lookup Zones, and then click New Zone….


  1. In the New Zone Wizard, click Next.


  1. In the Zone Type page, accept the default of Primary zone, and then click Next.


  1. In the Active Directory Zone Replication Scope page, select the appropriate replication method for your environment (the default is to all DNS servers in this domain), and then click Next.


  1. In the Zone Name page, in the Zone name box type the name for your new app domain name (for example,, and then click Next.


  1. On the Dynamic Update page, select the appropriate type of dynamic updates for your environment (the default is Do not allow dynamic updates), and then click Next.


  1. On the Completing the New Zone Wizard page, review the settings, and then click Finish.


Don’t Forget: If you plan to use apps on an internet-facing website, you have to buy this domain name! Furthermore, even if you only use it internally, it’s always better to buy it before someone else buys it and registers it in the public DNS.

2. Link the App Domain to the SharePoint Server

We now need to instruct our DNS to forward all the requests from to the SharePoint Server hosting the apps

  1. Verify you are logged in as a Domain Admin
  1. In DNS Manager, under Forward Lookup Zones, right-click the new app domain name, and then click New Alias (CNAME).


  1. In the New Resource Record dialog box, in the Alias name (uses parent domain if left blank) box, type *.
  1. Next to the Fully qualified domain name (FQDN) for target host box, click Browse and navigate to the Forward Lookup Zone for the domain that hosts the SharePoint sites and then navigate to the record that points to the server that hosts the SharePoint site.


  1. Click OK.

To verify the new domain name

This is just a little step to make sure everything we did until now is right.

  1. Click Start, and then click Command Prompt.
  1. At the command prompt, type ping followed by a subdomain of the domain that you created, and then press ENTER. (EX: ping where vlad is a random word and is your newly created domain.


If the ping command returns the correct IP address, then your wildcard for the domain name was configured successfully.

3. Starting the required services

Apps rely on the App Management and Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings service applications. These service applications use the multi-tenancy features to provide app permissions and create the subdomains for apps. Therefore, even if you are not hosting multiple tenants, you must still establish a name for the default tenant for your environment (any SharePoint site that is not associated with a tenant will be in the default tenant). In this step we will start the two required services!

  1. Verify that you are a member of the farm administrators group in Central Administration.
  2. In SharePoint 2013 Central Administration, click System Settings.
  3. On the System Settings page, under Servers, click Manage services on server.
  4. On the Services on Server page, next to App Management Service, click Start.
  5. On the Services on Server page, next to Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service, click Start.
  6. 2013-02-13-AppsEnvironment-12.png

  7. Verify that the App Management and Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings services are running.

4. Creating the Subscription Settings and App Management Service Applications

In this step we will create the two Service Applications we talked about in the previous step. As you know, Microsoft is strongly promoting PowerShell to the SharePoint Administrators, and to make sure you start using it, they made it the only way to configure the Subscription Settings Service Application. Since we will be doing PowerShell for the first one, we will both in PowerShell.

Verify that you have the following memberships:

    • securityadmin fixed server role on the SQL Server instance.
    • db_owner fixed database role on all databases that are to be updated.
    • Administrators group on the server on which you are running the Windows PowerShell cmdlets.
  1. In the configureSubscriptioSettingservice.ps1 script, change the values that are in blue in the following script. You download the script from


  1. In the configureAppManagementServiceApp.ps1 script, change the values that are in blue in the following script. You download the script from


  1. Open SharePoint 2013 Management Shell as an Administrator and run the scripts.


5. To configure app URLs

  1. In Central Administration, click Apps.


  1. On the Apps page, click Configure App URLs.


  1. In the App domain box, type the isolated domain that you created for hosting apps.
  1. In the App prefix box, type a name to use for the URL prefix for apps.

Original picture by Chris Whitehead and Sam Hassani

Here is how your URL will look like depending on the settings!


  1. Click OK.

5.5 To configure Internet-facing endpoints for apps (Optional)

The SharePoint Store contains apps for SharePoint intended for use with sites that require Internet-facing endpoints. By default, these apps are not available (greyed out and cannot be purchased) because they are incompatible with most sites. However, if your farm is configured to allow internet-facing end points, you can turn on the Internet-facing endpoints feature to show these apps in the SharePoint Store. You turn this feature on in Central Administration.

  1. In Central Administration, click Application Management.
  2. On the Application Management page, click Manage Web applications.
  3. On the Manage Web Applications page, select the web application that you want to change.
  4. On the ribbon, click Manage Features.
  5. 2013-02-13-AppsEnvironment-20.png

  6. In the feature list, next to Apps that require accessible internet facing endpoints, click Activate.
  7. 2013-02-13-AppsEnvironment-21.png

  8. Click OK.

6. Fix the “Out of the Box” errors.

Our environment is now fully setup, however there is a little problem. Back in step 1, we created a new domain that will host our apps. When a user is browsing the site and clicks an app, he will be forwarded to www.apps-00000(ID) We told our DC to forward those requests to our Front End, however SharePoint and IIS don’t understand it yet! How do we usually fix two URL’s going at the same site? AAM (Alternate access Mapping), but do you imagine doing this for every App? Luckily, there is a simpler way to fix this. We will create an empty-host header Web Application.

Since a picture is worth 1000 words, we are trying to get from here:

Original picture by Chris Whitehead and Sam Hassani

To here:

Original picture by Chris Whitehead and Sam Hassani

In case you are wondering, here is the 404 error you get if you try an app without applying the fix


Now, Let’s Fix it.

  1. Go into Central Administration and click Application Management
  2. Go into Manage Web Applications and create a new Web Application
  3. Click on New, set the Port to 80 and do not enter anything in the Host Header
  4. 2013-02-13-AppsEnvironment-25.png

  5. After that, you create a Site Collection using the Team Site
  6. 2013-02-13-AppsEnvironment-26.png

Now, we have to delete the Default Web Site from IIS!

  1. Go into IIS Manager as an administrator, and expand your Sites.
  2. Right click on the Default Website, and select Remove


7. Testing our Environment

Now that everything is set up we can finally test if we can run a simple application on our environment.

  1. Go on a Site Collection on which you are a Site Collection Administrator, click on the Settings “wheel” and “Add an app”


  1. In the Menu on the left side, choose “SharePoint Store”


  1. Select the language at the top right, and choose an application! For my test I took the myFAQ application.


  1. Click the big “ADD IT” button, and then sign in with your LiveID and password.
  1. After than, you will get the message “You Just got this app for everyone in your organization”. Now, leave the checbox “Add this app to [SiteName] Checked, and click the Return to Site button.


  1. In the next screen, click the “Trust It” button.


  1. Now, we give it a minute and we should be able to access your newly installed app. The MyFAQ looks like this


I hope this tutorial has been informative and clear enough to guide you through each step of the way. If you get any errors, or something is not clear, please leave a comment and I will answer as soon as possible! You can also download this document here for further reference:

Categories: SPF 2013; PowerShell; SQL; dev


Vlad Catrinescu


Hello, I just wanted to share with everybody that there are 3 images in this article that I found on Google and thought they were from Microsoft, however they are the property of Sam Hassani and Chris Whitehead. The three pictures are: The App URL format, and the two images of how the app url is routed. I always give credit where credit is due, and this is an honest mistake. Thanks!

Posted 16-Feb-2013 by Vlad Catrinescu
Devendra Velegandla

Nice Post

Thanks for Sharing the Post Devendra

Posted 17-Feb-2013 by Devendra Velegandla
SharePoint Fat


That's a good article but the author should list the references he put in his article. The 3 images Vlad mentioned belong to those Microsoft PFEs.
Please take that as advice.

Posted 18-Feb-2013 by SharePoint Fat
Vlad Catrinescu


Hi "SharePoint Fat" .. I did mention in the first comment that the images are theirs, and in the "downloadable" version I also added credits and references. I cannot change the article here, if no I would have added it as well.

Posted 19-Feb-2013 by Vlad Catrinescu
Soeren Nielsen

Step 6 need to be supplemented a bit

Thanks or the guide. Worked well. But in your step 6 I believe it is worth mentioning that the requirement is that a SharePoint site respond to the app domain host name. In many scenarios it will be a lot easier to simply let the normal site the user is browsing respond, eg. make the intranet the default website on the server.

Posted 30-Jun-2013 by Soeren Nielsen

thanks , its great article easy to understand.

thanks , its great article easy to understand. gabriel www.gjgsoftware-com

Posted 06-Jul-2013 by gabriel

Good article

What you say makes a lot of sense. I was getting a 404 error, so I followed the instructions, but now when I try to access an app, I get a blank page. Ideas?

Posted 17-Jul-2013 by Kathy

Good article

What you say makes a lot of sense. I was getting a 404 error, so I followed the instructions, but now when I try to access an app, I get a blank page. Ideas?

Posted 22-Jul-2013 by Kathy

cant create an new web

Sorry, something went wrong
The IIS Web Site you have selected is in use by SharePoint. You must select another port or hostname.
i got our intranet on port 80 and mysite on port 80
any ideas what to do? 

Posted 24-Jul-2013 by Tommy

cant create an new web

Sorry, something went wrong
The IIS Web Site you have selected is in use by SharePoint. You must select another port or hostname.
i got our intranet on port 80 and mysite on port 80
any ideas what to do? 

Posted 24-Jul-2013 by Tommy

cant create an new web

Sorry, something went wrong
The IIS Web Site you have selected is in use by SharePoint. You must select another port or hostname.
i got our intranet on port 80 and mysite on port 80
any ideas what to do? 

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Posted 14-Aug-2013 by shg

Need Help

I find this article best among all the articles available for configuring apps. Thanks a lot.
I am stuck at DNS configuration. I have created zone and alias as explained by you but its unble to ping the domain. Can you please give me some pointers.

Posted 06-Sep-2013 by paromita


Thank you! It was very informative and helpfull

Posted 25-Sep-2013 by Rodrigo

Question on the blank host header site...

What URL should you use for the new blank host header web application. I'm getting a blank page when rendering a locally hosted app (iframe and full screen). I think it might have to do with the URL. I chose to use the machine name. I have a web application for the main site and mysites, using host headers.

Posted 25-Sep-2013 by Jason
Alan C

App URL using SSL?

Is it OK to create the App web on an SSL site? I have other SSL SharePoint sites on the server (and will be exposing these sites through TMG), so was thinking of creating a separate IIS site, bound to a separate IP address and separate wildcard certificate. SharePoint won't allow me to create a new web application on port 443 (as it will see that other sites exist on this port).

Posted 12-Oct-2013 by Alan C

SharePoint Store inaccessible when App Pool is anything other than farm account

Hi, I've done all of the steps involved, but was finding that during testing, I was getting the message 'Sorry, we can't seem to connect to the SharePoint Store. Try again in a bit'. I noticed that I could get to the SharePoint store from Central Admin, so I changed my test site application pool identity to the farm account and did an IISRESET /noforce. After that, I was able to access the SharePoint store, install an application and use it. Any ideas as to why I might be getting that? I've done temporary things like making the app pool account a local administrator and giving it sysadmin rights to the database server, but that still doesn't fix the problem. In looking through the event log, when the App Pool account is not the farm account, it sends an invalid URL to
But when it uses the farm account as the app pool identity, it looks like:

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