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An ISO file, also known as an ISO image, is a file that contains all installation files for a single program. Certain software programs, especially large ones, are sometimes made available as ISO files, including Microsoft Office and the Windows operating system. How you install an application from the ISO file depends on the version of Windows you are using.
In Windows 10 or 8.1, you can mount the ISO file as a virtual disk and install the software from there. If you still have Windows 7 (you shouldn’t be), you need to download a utility that can mount the ISO file for you. You can also burn the ISO file to a disc or to a USB port and install it from the CD or drive. If you download Windows 10 as an ISO file, you will need to burn it to a bootable DVD or copy it to a bootable USB drive to install it on your target computer. Here’s how to install an ISO image in Windows.
Mount the ISO file in Windows 10 or 8.1
Download the ISO file, then open File Explorer and right-click the file. Select the Mount command from the pop-up menu.
Sometimes a third party program can disable the built-in Mount command so that it does not appear in the menu. If so, you will need to reset your default program to get the command back. In Windows 10, go to Settings> Apps> Default apps and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on the Set default values per app link. In the list of apps, click the one for Windows disc image burner and click Manage.
Click on the name of the third-party program and change it in Windows Explorer.
Return to File Explorer and right-click the ISO file again. The Mount command should now appear in the menu. Running the Mount command will open a virtual disk visible in the File Explorer sidebar, from which you can install the software. On that virtual disk, you should find a setup.exe file or similar file to install the program. Double-click on that file to install it.
After the installation is complete, open it This PC folder in File Explorer so you can see all your disk drives. Right-click on the virtual disk. (It probably has a drive letter of D or E depending on your configuration). Click the Eject command in the pop-up menu. This will delete the virtual drive, although your ISO file is still very much alive.
Mount the ISO file in Windows 7
The Mount command is only available in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. If you’re using Windows 7, you can instead go to a free virtual drive utility such as Virtual CloneDriveOnce installed, open Windows Explorer in Windows 7 and right-click on the ISO file you want to install. In the pop-up menu, click the Mount (virtual CloneDrive) order.
The virtual disk has been created. A small window will appear asking if you want to run the installation file or open the folder for the virtual disk. Choose the option to run the installation file.
The installation will then continue. After the program is installed, right-click on the ISO file in Windows Explorer and click Unmount from the pop-up menu to delete the virtual disk.
Burn the ISO file to disc
Another option for installing a program from an ISO file is to simply burn the file to a CD or DVD or to a USB port and install it from there. This is a useful method if you want to save the program to a disc that you can install in any version of Windows. You would also do this to install Windows from an ISO file on a clean machine.
To burn the ISO file to a disc, insert a blank CD or DVD into the disc drive of your PC. Open File Explorer or Windows Explorer and right-click on the ISO file. From the pop-up menu, select it Burn disc image order.
The Windows Disc Image Burner utility appears and should point to your CD / DVD drive. Click the Burn button to continue. The ISO file is burned to your CD or DVD. Your disk drive will then be able to open so that you can remove the disk.
Depending on your installation settings, you can then automatically install your program from the disc by inserting it into a PC drive or by double-clicking the installation file as displayed in File Explorer or Windows Explorer.
Windows USB / DVD download tool
Another option that allows you to burn the ISO to a disc or copy it to a USB is the Windows USB / DVD Download Tool, a free utility from Microsoft. This tool copies the contents of the ISO file to a CD, DVD, or USB drive, so you can then install the program from the disc or USB drive, which becomes bootable.
This is a good method if you want to install Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 on a clean computer or as part of a dual boot installation. Microsoft no longer offers this tool on its website, but you can still find it on other sites, including FileHippo and Major Geeks
After downloading Windows7-USB-DVD-Download-Tool-Installer.exe file, right-click on it and choose it Run as administrator option. Once installation is complete, launch the tool, browse to and choose the ISO file you want to burn. Click Next and then choose a USB device or a DVD.
If you choose USB, the next screen will ask you to insert the USB media. If you have more than one USB drive connected to your PC, make sure to choose the right one. Click Start Copy to copy the file to disk.
If the USB drive still contains data, it will be erased. Click Erase the USB drive to make room for the Windows files. After the files are copied, the tool will tell you that the bootable USB device has been successfully created. You can then use your USB device to install the program.
If you choose a DVD, insert a blank DVD into your drive and click Start Burning. The tool will inform you once the DVD has been burned successfully. You can now use your bootable DVD to install the program.