Tools of the trade: How to create Self-Extracting Archives with Windows

It’s a well hidden deployment secret that you can create self-extracting archives with Windows. Although 3’rd party software may give you some benefits, the IExpress tool in Windows usually has what you need. You can extract files and run commands, you can do post install commands, user prompts, license agreements, select run behavior, completion message and handle or require reboots.

You can launch IExpress from the command line or “run” (win+r) I have noticed that the tool works best when you run it as administrator.

1. Let’s say I want to create a new archive “MyApp”, this app has a install.vbs script that needs to be executed as part of the installation. I start the IExpress Wizard.


2. I select the package purpose, I want to extract files and run an installation command.


3. I name my package “My Demo App”


4. In this case I do not want to prompt the user in any way.



5. Neither to I have a license agreement.


6. I then add the files I want included in my package. In this case I only add Install.vbs but usually you would want to add multiple files and folders.


7. I specify the command line to launch after the package is extracted. Wscript.exe install.vbs



8. I select “default” behaviour on the show window tab.




9. I do not want any “completion message”.


10. I select where to create the self-extracting archive and name of the .exe file.


11. The package should only require a restart if it’s needed by my install.vbs script.



12. If I wanted to I could save the steps (“Package definition”) in a file, this is a good idea If you need to update the package later on.


13. I click next to create the package.




14. “Your Package has been created, click Finish when you are ready to quit”


2 thoughts on “Tools of the trade: How to create Self-Extracting Archives with Windows

  1. Good post!
    Remember that if you create the file using 64bit OS, the created file can only be run on 64bit Device…No options on that huh!

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