How you install a program from an ISO image will vary depending on which version of Windows you use. Here’s how to install a program in Windows 11, 10, 8.1, and 7.
An ISO file, also known as an ISO image, is a disc image of all the installation files for a single program. Particularly large programs, such as Microsoft Office and the Windows operating system, are made available as ISO files. How you install an application from its ISO file will depend on the version of Windows you’re running.
In Windows 11, 10, or 8.1, you can mount the ISO file as a virtual drive and install the software from there. If you’re still on Windows 7, you’ll need to download a utility that can mount the ISO file for you. The ISO file can also be burned to a disc or copied to a USB drive, then installed.
If you download Windows 11 or 10 as an ISO file, you’ll need to burn it to a bootable DVD or copy it to a bootable USB drive to install it on your target computer.
Mount the ISO File in Windows 11, 10, or 8.1
Download the ISO image, then open File Explorer and right-click on the file. From the pop-up menu, select the Mount command. This will open a virtual drive that is visible in File Explorer, from which you can install the software.
On the virtual drive, you should find a setup.exe file (or something similar) for installing the program. Double-click that file to install it. After the installation has finished, open the This PC folder in File Explorer so you can see all your disc drives.
Right-click on the virtual drive (it will have a drive letter of D or E, depending on your configuration). From the pop-up menu, click the Eject command to remove the virtual drive, though your ISO file will remain on the computer.
This is usually a simple process, but sometimes a third-party program can disable the built-in Mount command so it doesn’t appear in the menu. If this happens, you will need to reset your default program to bring the command back.
In Windows 11, go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps and click Windows Disc Image Burner in the list of apps. Click the name of the third-party program and change it to Windows Explorer.
In Windows 10, go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click the Set defaults by app link. Click Windows Disc Image Burner from the list of apps, then click Manage. Click the name of the third-party program and change it to Windows Explorer.
Return to File Explorer and right-click the ISO file again. The Mount command should now appear in the menu.
Mount the ISO File in Windows 7
If you’re running Windows 7, you will not have the Mount command option. Instead, you must turn to a free virtual drive utility, such as Virtual CloneDrive(Opens in a new window). After installation, open Windows Explorer and right-click the ISO file you wish to install. Go to Open with > Mount Files with Virtual CloneDrive.
The virtual drive is created and a small window will ask if you want to run the setup file or open the folder for the virtual drive. You can choose either option, though the latter option gives you the ability to view the files and then manually run the setup.exe file.
The installation proceeds. After the program has been installed, right-click on the ISO file in Windows Explorer and click Eject from the pop-up menu to remove the virtual drive.
Burn the ISO File to Disc
Another option is to simply burn the ISO file to a CD or DVD, or copy it to a USB drive and install it from there. This is a useful method if you wish to store the program on a disc that you can install in any version of Windows. You’d also go this route if you want to install Windows from an ISO file onto a clean machine.
Insert a blank disc into the disc drive (you can purchase an internal(Opens in a new window) or external(Opens in a new window) drive). Open File Explorer or Windows Explorer and right-click on the ISO file. In Windows 10, select the Burn disc image command. In Windows 11, click Show more options and then select Burn disc image.
The Windows Disc Image Burner tool pops up and should point to your CD/DVD drive. Click the Burn button to proceed. Once the ISO is burned to the disc, your drive may open so you can remove the disc.
Depending on your installation settings, you can then install your program from the disc automatically by placing it in the drive of a PC or by double-clicking the setup file as displayed in File Explorer or Windows Explorer.
Windows USB/DVD Download Tool
Another option that gives you the ability to burn the ISO to a disc or copy it to a USB is the Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, a free Microsoft utility. 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 an ISO of Windows on a clean computer or as part of a dual-boot setup. Microsoft no longer offers this utility on its website, but you can still find it at other sites, including FileHippo(Opens in a new window) and Major Geeks(Opens in a new window).
After you download the Windows7-USB-DVD-Download-Tool-Installer.exe file, right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. Once the installation is complete, launch the tool, then browse to and choose the ISO file you wish to burn. Click Next, then choose either USB device or DVD.
If you choose USB, the next screen asks you to insert the USB media. If you have more than one USB drive plugged into your PC, be sure to pick the correct one.
Click Begin copying to copy the file onto the drive. If the USB drive still contains data, it will be erased. Click Erase USB Drive to make room for the Windows files. After the files have been copied, the tool will tell you that the Bootable USB device was created successfully. 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 Begin burning. The tool will inform you once the DVD has been successfully burned. You can now use your bootable DVD to install the program.