How to Open .WIM Files

By Jason Artman

A file with a “.wim” extension contains a copy of a hard drive or other storage device. Microsoft developed the Windows Imaging Format to reduce the amount of time needed to deploy an image of a Windows installation to multiple computers in a corporate environment. You can mount a WIM file on your computer as a virtual storage device using the Windows Automated Installation Kit. You use this utility to view and modify the contents of the WIM image through the Windows Explorer interface.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later
  • Blank recordable DVD

Step 1

Navigate in your browser to the download page for the Windows 7 Automated Installation Kit. Note that you may need to download a different version of this utility if you run an older version of Windows. Click the "Download" button and save the "KB3AIK_EN.iso" file to your desktop. Wait as the file is downloaded.

Step 2

Right-click on the downloaded file and select "Burn Disc Image" from the context menu. Follow the on-screen prompts to burn a copy of the Windows Automated Installation Kit on a blank DVD.

Step 3

Insert the Windows Automated Installation Kit DVD after you’ve completed the burning process. A “Welcome to Windows Automated Installation Kit" window opens.

Step 4

Click "Windows AIK Setup" on the left side of the window. The utility scans the computer to make sure that MSXML 6.0 and the .NET Framework are installed. If the operating system reports that these files are missing, click "OK" and follow the prompts to install them; otherwise, click "Next" to continue.

Step 5

Click the "I Agree" radio button to accept Microsoft's license terms and then click "Next" to continue the installation.

Step 6

Click the "Browse" button to specify a destination folder for the Windows Automated Installation Kit or click "Next" to use the folder "C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\."

Step 7

Click "Next" again to install the utility in the selected destination. This process may take several minutes to complete. Once installed, the utility displays a message confirming, "Windows Automated Installation Kit has been successfully installed." Click "Close."

Step 8

Open the Windows “Start” menu and click the "Computer" icon.

Step 9

Open the "C:" hard drive.

Step 10

Right-click an open area of the window and select "New" and then "Folder." Name the new folder "Image" and press "Enter." Drag the WIM file to this folder. Note that you can name the folder anything you like; if you give the folder some other name, modify the subsequent steps in this article accordingly.

Step 11

Right-click an open area of the window and select "New" and "Folder." Name this folder "Working" and press "Enter." Windows will store the contents of the WIM image in this folder while you read and modify the image.

Step 12

Open the "Start" menu and type "cmd" in the search field at the bottom. When the shortcut for the command prompt appears, right-click it and select "Run as Administrator." Depending on your security settings, you may need to enter an administrator password to continue. Windows opens an elevated command prompt.

Step 13

Type "cd\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86" and press "Enter." This brings you to the folder with the ImageX utility.

Step 14

Type "imagex /mountrw C:\Image\file.wim 1 C:\Working" and press "Enter." Replace "file.wim" with the name of the WIM file you want to open. Note that some WIM files store more than one complete drive image; if the file you are opening has multiple volumes, replace "1" with another number to open the correct volume.

Step 15

Navigate to the "Working" folder that you created in Step 11 to read and modify the contents of the image. Keep the command prompt window open while you do this. You must unmount the image and save your changes when you are finished.

Step 16

Return to the command prompt window when you are ready to save your changes to the WIM image. Type "imagex /unmount /commit C:\Working" and press "Enter."