Posted by: kurtsh | July 30, 2007

HOWTO: Extract a file from a Windows Installer package (a.k.a. .MSI file)

An old friend of mine contacted me and said, "Hey – How do I get the CAB file for this one .MSI package?"  I need to just get the .CAB… not the whole .MSI file.

Good question.  The file she was looking at was for CommunicatorMobile_PPC50.msi – the installer for Windows Mobile’s version of Office Communicator.  Turns out… BFsurprise… we don’t have one posted.

WINRAR DOESN’T WORK
Insert technical ingenuity:  I seemed to recall that WinRAR would read .MSI files and I was right… it’ll read .MSI files and show you the manifest but it won’t extract the files correctly.  The parsing engine for .MSIs isn’t built into WinRAR so that’s shot.  At least I knew I was on the right track though.

ENTER "LESS MSIERABLES"
A guy named Philip came up with this tool called Less MSIerables, which does exactly what I think we all want:  A way of opening up .MSI files and extracting just the files we want out of them.  It reads the manifest and gives you a ton of data about the files included in the .MSI package.  And most importantly, it unpacks them all accurately.

The tool is free and can be downloaded from: http://blogs.pingpoet.com/overflow/archive/2005/11/16/14995.aspx.


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