December 27, 2010

How to view files inside MSI and extract them

Recently, I had an MSI file that I wanted to crack open to see what are the contents of it because I wanted to check some files out even before running the MSI (before doing installation). There may be other ways to do this, but I found this slick way to do this and thought of sharing it here.

We can use the tool called Less MSI to do this very easily. Following is a snippet from the project home page to give an idea about the tool. You can download the tool from here for free.


Windows Explorer Integration

Lessmsi also integrates with Windows Explorer so that you can right-click on a Windows Installer file (.msi file) and select "Extract Files" to extract it into a folder right there:

Just select Preferences from the Edit menu to enable (or disable) the explorer integration:


In addition to allowing you to extract files from the command line and from inside Windows Explorer, lessmsi has a graphical user interface that allows you to view detailed information about any MSI file.

MSI Table Viewer

Windows Installer (.msi files) are based on an internal database of tables. Lessmsi features a viewer for those tables. Useful for people who work a lot with installers.