ISO files are typically used to distribute large programs over the internet. The ISO format can neatly pack all the installation files as a single file, which makes it easier to download and burn to a disc or some other device. Because every file required to run the program can be included in a single ISO image, many programs are distributed as ISO files.

Downloadable Operating Systems such as Windows 10 and the various Linux distros, Microsoft Office, and bootable antivirus programs such as Bitdefender are distributed as ISO files. To install the program into your computer, you'll need to extract the ISO file first. Extracting ISO files can be a little intimidating if you're not familiar with the process.

If you're not sure how to go about it, we've got you covered. In this article, we'll show you how to extract ISO files you want step by step. Read on to learn more.

What is an ISO file?

Before we delve into the mechanics of extracting an ISO file, let's look at exactly what an ISO file is just so that we all are on the same page. An ISO file, sometimes referred to as an ISO image, is a file that contains the entire contents of a program. Thus, an ISO file is a complete disc image, a digital representation of a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc.

Think of an ISO image as a box containing all the different parts of something that need to be put together, such as a machine or a piece of furniture from IKEA. To get some utility from it, you have to open and assemble it. That holds for ISO files, too. You have to 'assemble' the contents of the ISO file onto a disc.

How to extract ISO files

Instead of burning or mounting an ISO file to a disk/virtual disk, you can use a compression or decompression software program such as WinZip to extract the ISO image to the hard drive. This process will create copies of all the installation files in a folder on your hard drive. Then, you can browse through the files like any other folder on your computer.

You can use WinZip to extract ISO files on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. A macOS version of the program is also available. Follow the steps below to extract ISO files on your computer.

  • Get the ISO file. The first thing you need to do is download the ISO file to your computer. Like all files downloaded from the internet, the ISO file will be saved in the Downloads folder.
  • Launch the compression program. You can open the compressed file by launching the compression program and clicking on file>open. Your computer may associate the .iso file extension with your compression program. In this case, you can open the file just by double-clicking on it.
  • Select files. Programs such as WinZip allow you to select the files or directories you want to extract. In Windows, just hold down the control key and click on the files. You can select all if that's what you want.
  • Extract ISO files. At this point, all you have to do is select a destination folder for your unpacked files from the drop-down list and extract. You will find the extracted ISO files in the folder that you chose to place them.


File compression programs such as WinZip make it easier to unpack and browse through the contents of an ISO image file. With a compression utility, you can easily extract the installation files in an ISO image to a folder if you don't want to burn them to a disc. You can then install the program normally from the folder.

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