Amazon AppStream 2.0
Developer Guide

Tutorial: Use an AppStream 2.0 Image Builder to Create Images

Before you can stream your applications, Amazon AppStream 2.0 requires at least one image that you create using an image builder. This tutorial walks through the steps to create images using an image builder.


After you create an image builder and it is running, your account may incur nominal charges. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Pricing.


This tutorial contains details that apply to the latest base image release. For more information, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Windows Image Version History.

If you are using images created from base images dated prior to 2017-07-24, you can view a compatible version of this tutorial by downloading the PDF file appstream2-dg-2017-07-23.pdf.

Step 1: Create an Image Builder

Create a new image builder so you can add apps and create images for streaming.

To create an image builder for adding applications

  1. Open the AppStream 2.0 console at

  2. You may see the welcome screen showing two choices: Try it now and Get started. Choose Get started, Custom set up.

    If you do not see the welcome screen, choose Quick links in the left navigation pane, then Custom set up.

    A third way to start creating a new image builder is to choose Images in the left navigation pane, then the Image Builder tab, Launch Image Builder.

  3. For Step 1: Choose Image, select a base image. If you are launching the image builder for the first time, you can use the latest sample base image provided by AWS (selected by default). For the latest base image names, see Amazon AppStream 2.0 Windows Image Version History. If you have created images before, or to update applications in an existing image, you can select one of your existing images. Be sure to select an image that aligns with the instance family you need. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Instance Families.

    Choose Next.

  4. For Step 2: Configure Image Builder, configure the image builder by accepting the default values or by providing your own inputs for the following fields:


    Provide a unique name identifier for the image builder.

    Instance Type

    Select the instance type for the image builder. Choose a type that matches the performance requirements of the applications that you plan to install. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Instance Families.

    Choose Next.

  5. For Step 3: Configure Network, choose a VPC subnet in which your image builder should be launched. Your image builder has access to any of the network resources that are accessible from within this VPC subnet.

    For internet access on the image builder, choose Default Internet Access, select a VPC that has public subnets on your default VPC, and then select one of the public subnets listed for Subnet. If you are controlling internet access using a NAT gateway, leave Default Internet Access unselected and use the VPC with the NAT gateway. For more information, see Network Settings for Fleet and Image Builder Instances.

    For Security group(s), select up to five security groups to associate with this image builder. If needed, choose Create new security group. If you do not choose a security group, the image builder is associated with the default security group for your VPC. For more information, see Security Groups.

    For Active Directory Domain (Optional), expand this section to choose which Active Directory and organizational unit in which to place your streaming instance computer objects. Ensure that the selected network access settings enables DNS resolvability and communication with your directory. For more information, see Using Active Directory Domains with AppStream 2.0.

  6. Review the details for the image builder, choose Edit for any section to change, and choose Launch.

After the service sets up some resources, the image builder instance list appears. Your new image builder is listed as Running when it is ready to use (choose Refresh to update the status).

Step 2: Installing Applications to an Image

In this step, connect to the image builder that you created and launched, then install the applications to be included in the image.

To install applications

  1. On the left navigation pane, choose Images, Image Builder.

  2. Select the image builder to use, check to be sure it has a Running status, and choose Connect. For this step to work, you may need to configure your browser to allow pop-ups from https://stream.<aws-region>

  3. Sign in by choosing one of the following options:


    This mode has full administrator permissions on the image builder instance. Use this mode to install your applications, add applications to the image, and create an image.

    Test User

    This mode has the same limited permissions as your end users have on their streaming instances. Use this mode to test applications for proper function as an end user.

    Directory User

    If your image builder is joined to an Active Directory domain, this mode allows you to log in as a user in your domain to access resources that are managed by Active Directory. Provide the username and password of the user to log in as. The user must have local administrator permissions to install applications. For more information, see Providing Local Administrator Permissions for Image Builders.

    At any point after logging in, you can switch between users by selecting Switch Users from the Admin Commands menu. This disconnects your current session and brings up the login menu.

  4. Install apps by browsing to an application website or other download source. Complete the application's own installation process before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Adding Applications to an Image

In this step, you can add applications (.exe), batch scripts (.bat), and application shortcuts (.lnk) to the image.

To add applications

  1. From the image builder desktop, launch the Image Assistant application.

  2. Choose Add Application and navigate to the location of the application, script, or shortcut to add. Choose Open.

  3. In the Application Properties dialog box, enter a display name to be shown to the users in the catalog, change the icon, and enter launch parameters (additional arguments passed to the application when it is launched). Repeat for each application to add to the image.

  4. When you are finished adding apps, choose Next.

To test your applications

  • Verify that the apps you've added launch correctly by starting a new Windows session as a user with similar access rights as your end users.

    1. From the Admin Commands menu, choose Switch user. This disconnects you from the current session and shows the login menu.

    2. To log in as a local test user, choose Test User. To log in as an Active Directory user, choose Directory User, and provide the username and password of the user to log in as. Choose Log in.

    3. Launch Image Assistant from the shortcut on the desktop. Choose Launch next to the application to launch, and test your app.

    4. Repeat the previous step for each app in the image.

    5. To return to the admin mode, choose Switch user, and select the user used to add applications to the image.


Do not exit the Image Assistant application, as you need to use it in the next section.

Step 4: Optimizing Apps

In this step, you optimize your apps and create the image. The image builder optimizes your applications for start-up performance. This is a mandatory step that is performed on all applications in the list. All applications must be launched prior to optimization

To optimize your applications

  1. Choose Launch and the service automatically launches the first application in your list. When the app is running, choose Continue.

  2. Provide any interactions or inputs that may be required by the application launched to bring it to a usable state. For example, a web browser may prompt you to import settings before it is completely up and running.

  3. After you have brought the application to a usable state, choose Continue in the small dialog box. The app helper launches the next application automatically.

  4. Repeat the previous step until all applications are launched, and leave them running. In the Image Assistant helper app, choose Next.

Step 5: Creating an Image

In this step, you choose a name and create the image.

To create the image

  1. Enter a unique image name and image display name, with an optional description, and choose Next. The name you choose cannot begin with "Amazon", "AWS", or "AppStream".

  2. Review the details and choose Disconnect and Create Image. Your new image is created and the session is disconnected. You can now close the session window. Your image builder goes into a Snapshotting state while the image is being created. After it is completed, your image builder is in the Stopped state. You may need to refresh the console listing to see the state change.

  3. Return to the console and navigate to Images, Image Registry. Verify that your new image appears in the list.

The new image first appears with status Pending in the image registry of your console. After the image is successfully created, the status of the image changes to Available, which means you can now use the image to launch a stack and stream your applications. To continue to work with creating images, you can start the image builder and connect to it from the console, or create a new image builder. There is a limit of five image builders per account.

Step 6: Clean Up

Finally, stop your running image builders to free up resources and avoid unintended charges to your account. We recommend stopping any unused, running image builders. For more information, see AppStream 2.0 Pricing.

To stop a running image builder

  1. In the navigation pane, choose Images, Image Builders, and select the running image builder instance.

  2. Choose Actions, Stop.