Close Console Window Automatically in C#

In this article, I am sharing small but important information that I encountered during my early days of programming.

Problem Statement

As I said in the introduction, during my initial days of programming I encountered an issue. I was developing a small application, where I was supposed to display multiple messages on the console window and once the last message is displayed, after a wait of 5 seconds the console window was supposed to close automatically. That seems like a straight forward requirement, right? Here is the code for this:

  1. static void Main(string[] args)  
  2. {  
  3.       Console.WriteLine("Message1");  
  4.       Console.WriteLine("Message2");  
  5.       ..and so on  
  6.       Console.WriteLine("This is the last message.");  
  7.       Thread.Sleep(5000); //Delay for 5 seconds  
  8.       //Close Window, but How?  
  9.       //return 0;  
  10.       //System.Environment.Exit(1);  
  11. }  
Here, I am simply displaying a few messages on the console window and upon reaching the last message I am using the Sleep method of the System.Threading.Thread class to get a delay of 5 seconds. But what was actually “driving me nuts”, was the fact that even after writing this small program, it was not working as expected. Once the last message is displayed, a message appears on the console window saying “Press any key to continue”. Try running this program yourself and you will get the same. But, this is not what I was expecting, I was expecting the console window to automatically close, so I tried various things (as shown commented in the code) and nothing worked. I started researching about this and found many developers around the world have the same sort of “confusion”.

Analysis [Resolution]

The reason why I have titled this section as “Analysis” is because this is not a resolution but just an answer to this misconception with respect to the problem.

Press any key to continue is by default provided by Microsoft in the development IDE. Whenever we run an application from the IDE, we expect any output, right? And we need that console window to remain open so that we can see the output. This is given for that purpose so that the user can see the output generated. No matter whether our project is running in Debug or Release mode we will get this message. If we go through any MSDN documentation, they specifically mention in the code sample:
  1. // Keep the console open in debug mode.  
  2. Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit.");  
  3. Console.ReadKey();  
Because, when we run the application directly using Ctrl+F5 we get this message "Press any key to continue" but we don't get this message when debugging.

If we run this from outside the IDE, in other words directly by double-clicking the .exe file generated, we will not find this message, also in real-time we run the .exe file from a BAT file or something (obviously we will not ask the end user to run our app from Visual Studio IDE) then too we won't get this message.

Now, simply run the program by directly double-clicking the .exe file present in the bin folder of solution, we will see the desired output, in other words after 5 seconds the console window “automatically” closes.

Thus, in short this message is only specific to the IDE for development purposes.