Noble metal additives significantly improve the performance of SnO2 based sensors. Recently, it has been found that X-ray absorption spectroscopy is an excellent tool to identify their structure under sensing conditions, despite of the low concentrations and the rather thin (50 μm) and highly porous layers. For this purpose a new in situ approach has been established and here we highlight the potential with an overview on the results of Pd-, Pt-, and Au-additives in SnO2-based sensors at work. Emphasis was laid on recording the structure (by XANES and EXAFS) and performance at the same time. In contrast to earlier studies, Pd- and Pt-additives were observed to be in oxidized and finely dispersed state under sensing conditions excluding a spillover from metallic noble metal particles. However, Au was mainly present as metallic particles in the sensing SnO2-layer. For the Pt- and Au-doped SnO2-layers high energy-resolved fluorescence detected X-ray absorption spectra (HERFD-XAS) were recorded not only to minimize the lifetime-broadening but also to eliminate the Au- and Pt-fluorescence effectively and to record range-extended EXAFS.