What are Windows CAB files used for?

Unzip the MSI file without installing it

MSI = Microsoft Software Installation (Windows Installer)

An MSI file usually contains a CAB file (or several CAB files), but if only one file is required, then it is nonsense to install the MSI completely.
There are some plug-ins for programs (e.g. Total Commander) that can unzip an MSI file, but it is very easy to do with on-board tools.

First, a new "MSI" folder is created on C: \ (example: C: \ MSI), in which the desired MSI file should be located. It may Not the same directory in which the source file is located can be used for unpacking.
Then the command prompt under "Start - Run: cmd start and with the command


(Example path)

change to this folder.

Now enter the following command (using IE Explorer as an example):

msiexec / a IE-Explorer.msi / qn TARGETDIR = "C: \ MSI \ IE-Explorer" [ENTER]

(Adapt path if necessary)

There will be a new subfolder called IE Explorer created under C: \ MSI (C: \ MSI \ IE-Explorer) and unzipped the MSI file there. You now have access to all files contained in the MSI file.

In order to copy a certain file into a certain directory immediately after unpacking (e.g. to replace a damaged file) and to delete the remaining unpacked files immediately, this command is required:

msiexec / a IE-Explorer.msi / qn TARGETDIR = "C: \ MSI \ IE-Explorer"
copy "C: \ MSI \ IE-Explorer \ program files \ IExplorer \ ieplore.exe"
"C: \ Program Files \ Internet Explorer \ ieplore.exe"

rd "C: \ MSI \ IE-Explorer" / S / Q


(Change path if necessary)

Just in case:
Since it works with all MSI files, simply write the lines above in a text editor with the extension asked (e.g. MSI.bat). The MSI.bat must of course be adapted accordingly (msi file, path, program).
With a double click the MSI.bat starts and the process is carried out automatically.
This saves time and nerves when only one file is required.

If you want to use a tool, you can use any packing program (example 7-Zip). Simply open the MSI with 7-Zip (do not unzip) and copy the file out.

Windows Installer 2.0 for Windows 2000 / NT 4.0

Windows Installer 3.1 v2 for Win 2000 / XP / 2003

Windows Installer 4.5 for XP / 2003 / Vista / Win2008 / 32- / 64-bit and Windows Server

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Extract the MSI file without installing it
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