How to Open an ISO File

You can easily store the contents of an entire CD or DVD disc as an ISO image. Similar to a ZIP or RAR file, an ISO image is essentially an archive that contains all of the files and folders on the disc. To be able to use the data contained within the ISO image, you need to open the file. WinRAR and WinZIP can open ISO files and extract their contents to your hard drive, but you also can use specialized tools such as Daemon Tools Lite to open ISO images.

Businessman using a laptop
credit: johnkellerman/iStock/Getty Images

WinRAR

Step

Launch WinRAR and press "Ctrl-O" to open the Find Archive window.

Step

Select the ISO file using the integrated file browser and click "Open" to open the file in WinRAR.

Step

Press "Ctrl-A" to select all files and folders in the ISO file, then click the "Extract To" button near the top of the window.

Step

Select a folder where you want to extract the files. Click "OK" to extract the contents of the ISO file on your hard drive.

Step

Click the "Start" button and select "Computer" to launch Windows Explorer, the native file manager.

Step

Click the "Start" button and select "Computer" to launch Windows Explorer, the native file manager.

WinZIP

Step

Launch WinZIP and press "Ctrl-O" to open the Open WinZIP File window.

Step

Select "All archives" in the drop-down box in the lower right corner of the window to view the ISO file in the file browser.

Step

Select the ISO file and click "Open" to open it in WinZIP.

Step

Press "Ctrl-A" to select all files and folders; then click the "Unzip" button at the top.

Step

Select a destination folder for the unzipped ISO file and click "Unzip."

Step

Click the Start button and select "Computer" to launch Windows Explorer, the native file manager.

Step

Open the folder to which you extracted the ISO archive to view the data.

Daemon Tools Lite

Step

Launch Daemon Tools Lite.

Step

Click the "Add Image" icon, which looks like a green "+" sign over a gray disk, to start opening the ISO file.

Step

Select the ISO file using the built-in file browser. Click "Open" to open the file in Daemon Tools Lite.

Step

Double-click the ISO file in the Image Catalog in the left pane to mount it as a virtual drive.

Step

Click the "Start" button and select "Computer" to launch Windows Explorer, the native file manager.

Step

Select the new drive in the left pane to view the contents of the ISO file in the right pane.