How to Unpack an ISO File

by Jeff Grundy
CD image by Ricardo Bego Mantoan from

These days, many software companies and developers make their wares available as downloadable files on the Internet. For applications that are particularly large, many providers supply the files in an ISO image format.

In most cases, users burn ISO images to a CD or DVD. With the CD/DVD created from the image file, you can then install the application or access files within the image. However, modern ISO utility software allows you to mount, unpack or view files within an ISO image without first needing to burn the file to a disc.

Step 1

Find a free ISO application. Popular ISO programs include DAEMON Tools Lite, ISODisk and MagicISO.

Step 2

Download the ISO burning/mounting application and save it to your computer.

Step 3

Browse to the folder where you saved the downloaded ISO application. Double-click the setup file to start the installation. Follow the on-screen prompts to install the ISO program on your PC. If prompted to do so, reboot your computer.

Step 4

Double-click "Computer" (Windows 7 or Vista) or "My Computer" (Windows XP) on the desktop and browse to the folder that contains the ISO file you want to unpack.

Step 5

Right-click the ISO image file, then scroll down to the name of the ISO program you installed. Scroll to the "Extract here" option when the pop-up menu appears and click it. Wait for the program to unpack the files in the folder.

Press the "F5" key to refresh the contents of the folder. You should now be able to view all of the files that were unpacked from the ISO image file. Delete the original ISO file or leave it in the folder.


  • Instead of unpacking an ISO image, mount the file to access its contents in a virtual CD/DVD drive. This will help save space on your hard drive. Most ISO application support "right-click mounting" of ISO images, which means you can quickly and easily mount the image and have the application assign a drive letter. You can then access the virtual drive through "Computer" or "My Computer."


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About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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