How to Open ISO Files

Wondering how to open ISO files? ISO files typically aren't supported by most operating systems, but, with the right ISO software, you can be opening ISO files in no time.

Be sure you're working with legal files.
First and foremost, if you're trying to open ISO files, make sure you're working with legal files. ISO images are an image containing all the raw data on a disc. Typically, these files are contained on CDs, and they may include everything from copyright-protected materials to video game data.

If you've downloaded ISO files from a game or other potentially copyrighted material, make sure you're working with legal distributions. Some unscrupulous individuals rip ISO files from protected discs and distribute them online, but you may be committing a crime if you download and use these files.

Find an ISO program to open ISO files without burning to disc.
When you want to open ISO files, you have two options: Find an ISO program to work with them directly, or use ISO software to burn them to disc. If you want to use an ISO program, you also have two options, depending on how you want to proceed: Use compression software to access and manipulate the data contained in ISO files, or use specific ISO programs to work with the file directly.

Using compression software to access ISO files.
With compression software, you find a program that can access and manipulate ISO files. Popular choices include WinRAR, 7 Zip and others. Not all compression programs enable you to manipulate ISO images.

Once you've installed a compression program that works with ISO files, simply open the compression software, and select the ISO as your source file. Depending on the program, you should be able to see the familiar hierarchy of file folders and directories. From there, you can work with individual files or extract the data to install programs and files in the normal way.

Use ISO software to work directly with ISO files.
If you don't want to use compression software to access the raw data contained in ISO files, or you need to install software or want to otherwise work with the ISO files directly, you can use an ISO program to interact directly with the file. ISO software typically comes in the form of CD-ROM emulators, which makes your computer think you're reading the ISO data from a burned disc in a CD drive. You might see this referred to as "mounting ISO files."

When you mount ISO files to a virtual CD-ROM drive, they function almost exactly as if you'd burned them to disc and loaded the disc into an actual drive. This performs essentially the same function as burning a disc. If you regularly work with ISO files and don't want the hassle of tons of extra discs multiplying in your workspace, this is an ideal solution to working with ISO files in a way they're designed to function. However, as with compression programs, not all virtual CD-ROMs enable you to work with ISO images, so make sure you find ISO-specific software.

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