What is Setup MSI

Unpack and view MSI setup files

Daniel Behrens

You often receive installation archives for programs not as EXE files but as MSI files, where MSI stands for "Microsoft Installer". They are just as easy to start as EXE files with a double-click. Sometimes, however, you may not want to perform an installation at all, but only want to unzip the installation archive in order to be able to view the contents or to copy individual files from it.

EnlargeSetup archives for programs are often available as MSI files. Instead of starting the installation with a double click, you can also unzip it.

This works with the command line tool Msiexec.exe included in Windows, to which you pass the path and name of the MSI file after the / a parameter and the directory into which the files are to be extracted after / Targetdir =.

If it does not already exist, the tool creates this directory automatically. To avoid unnecessary entries, add the parameter / passive.

The complete command is that you enter in the Windows command prompt, for example:

Setup archives for programs are often available as MSI files in the “C: \ Temp \ Msi extract” directory. Instead of starting the installation with a double click, you can also unzip it.

a (actually unnecessary) copy of the MSI file. And on the other hand you will find the unzipped files there - depending on the structure of the installation archive either in the same folder or in a subdirectory that has the same name as the MSI file.

If you want to unpack MSI archives on a regular basis, then it is worthwhile to create a context menu entry for this.

To do this, open the Regedit registry editor and navigate to the Hkey_Classes_Root \ Msi.Package \ shell section.

Create a key there with the name “Unzip” and enter this name into the dialog box that appears after double-clicking on the predefined entry “(Standard)”.

Create another key under the name "command". Here, too, click on the entry "(Standard)" and then enter the following command:

As a result, when you right-click on an MSI file, the “Unzip” command appears in the context menu, which unpacks the installation archive into the “C: \ Temp \ Msiextract” folder.