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Work with ISO Files

This article applies to: Software Licensing


ISO is an industry-standard disk image format. ISO files are commonly referred to as "disk images." With appropriate software, you can use the ISO file to mount the image as a virtual disk, extract the files to your computer, or create a DVD from the image. Once you have mounted, extracted, or burned the disk image, you can use the software.

    Mount the ISO as a Virtual Disk

    Virtual Disk: Windows 7

    Windows 7 will not automatically mount an ISO disk image. To mount the disk image, you will need to use a third-party utility. 

    As a courtesy, we have put together a list of some free ISO mounting utilities. CIT is not in a position to recommend a specific third-party utility for this purpose. If you need technical assistance with a third-party ISO utility, please contact its manufacturer.

    Virtual Disk: Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac, Linux

    Windows 8, Windows 10, macOS, and most Linux distributions all natively support mounting ISO files as virtual disks. Just double-click the file and it will appear as a virtual disk on the desktop. You can run any software on the virtual disk as if it were on a real disk.

    Create a Disk From the ISO

    CD or DVD?

    The size of the file indicates what type of optical disk you will need to use:

    • Up to 700 MB, use a recordable CD  (e.g. CD-R, CD-RW)
    • Up to 4.7 GB, use a single-layer DVD (e.g. DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW)
    • Up to 8.5 GB, use a dual-layer DVD (e.g. DVD+R DL)

    Not all optical drives can read or write all types of disks. Check your computer's documentation to see what kind of disks your optical drive is able to read and write. Note that some optical drives are able to read disk types that they cannot write to.

    Creating a CD or DVD from the ISO: Windows

    If your computer has a drive that can write to optical disks, you can easily burn an ISO image to optical disk with the built-in Windows Disk Image Burner.

    For step-by-step instructions, please see Microsoft's page on this utility:

    There are also third-party image burning utilities available from various software manufacturers, such as the free ImgBurn.

    Creating a CD or DVD from the ISO: Mac

    You can use Apple Disk Utility to create a CD or DVD of the disk image file.  

    1. Launch Disk Utility, located in the Utilities folder, which is in the Applications folder.  
    2. Click the Burn icon. You will be prompted to browse to the image you want to burn.  
    3. Insert a blank recordable disk and click Burn Image.  

    Extract Files From the ISO to a Drive

    Extracting Files to the Hard Drive: Windows 7

    There are several Windows 7 utilities that can treat an ISO file as a file archive and extract the files to your hard drive so that you can use them normally. The effect is similar to copying the files off of a DVD. You can then run the installer from your computer's hard drive. This option uses more hard drive space than the mounting option, but many users report a higher success rate. Archive utilities that will extract files from an ISO include:

    Extracting Files to the Hard Drive: Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac, and Linux

    Windows 8, Windows 10, macOS, and most Linux distributions all recognize this file type natively and can mount the image as a virtual disk.

    Extracting to the hard drive is unnecessary and not recommended.

    About this Article

    Last updated: 

    Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 8:48am

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