Mounting .ISO files Directly is Awesome Feature in Windows 8 for DreamSpark and MSDN Subscribers

Randy Guthrie – Microsoft Technical Evangelist

One of the small but sometimes annoying challenges of software offerings in DreamSpark and MSDN is that the software downloads are largely in .ISO format. This requires going through some extra steps to burn the software to a DVD or USB storage keys. One of the little known but very nice features in Windows 8 is the ability to “mount” .ISO files directly and run the software installation from the location where it was downloaded.

The process is essentially a “one-click” step:  right-mouse click on the .ISO file and select “Mount” with a left mouse click. The extracted file list will appear. You then click the “set-up” .EXE file to install the software. Its that simple.

In pictures:

Select the .ISO file

Right-mouse click on the file, then Left-click the “Mount” optionimage

The extracted image appear. Double left-click on “set-up.exe” to start the installation.image




Comments (53)

  1. LJW says:

    After using Linux and Mac for years, which have done this since the beginning, I'm glad to see Microsoft finally getting around to it. I never understood why they didn't have this built in, especially since they started making all the downloads from MSDN in the ISO format.

  2. randguth says:

    Sometimes these features are copyrighted by someone other than Microsoft, and just because it was available in Linux doesn't mean it wasn't violating a patent.  It could be (just speculation) that Microsoft licensed the tech, or a patent expired. Or maybe we finally determined there was sufficient justification to add the feature.  The more features, the larger the OS, and keeping the footprint managable is also a desireable feature. – Randy

  3. Wayne D says:

    When I first installed Windows 8, I saw this option.  However, no it no longer appears.  Could something have disabled this option?

  4. Wayne D says:

    Cancel my comment.  Somehow ISO became unassociated with being opened by "Windows Explorer."  Probably while I was installing one of the multitude of applications.  I reassociated ISO with Windows Explorer and now they'll successfully mount.

  5. John Matthew Bostock says:

    I have done this with my Windows 8 files from one of my computers. Can I now use the DVD disc to put Windows 8 on another computer and just buy a key from the Microsoft store?

  6. Jewel says:

    This is great and all, but how do I 'umount' the iso?  My CD drive is stuck as a result of mounting some software in Windows 8..I clicked on 'eject' but I receive a generic error message.  I can't find any help on this out there!  

  7. Jonathan Clough says:

    Would be great – except I get no mount option 🙁

  8. randguth says:

    @Jewel: On my computer I right-mouse click and then click eject and it unmounts the drive and the "DVD" drive in Windows Explorer goes away. If your computer doesn't work that way I am stumped!

  9. randguth says:

    @Jonathan: I am using the Enterprise edition of Windows 8. I assume you are using the "pro edition"? It should work there as well. Sometimes if the .ISO file is corrupted the mount option won't work. Can you try downloading a different file?

  10. Jerry Carter says:

    If you don't see the option, you need to first open the ISO with Windows Explorer.  After you open it once then the "Mount" option shows up…

  11. mea says:

    Please help a poor PC dummy.  just got windows 8 and don't know where the .iso files are located.  I even did a search from windows explorer.

    Help please.

  12. randguth says:

    Hi Mea,  .ISO files are compressed files, sort of like .zip files.  Most of the software that Microsoft makes available for developers is distributed via download, rather than going to a store to buy it. Many people are upgrading to Windows 8 for example by purchasing the software and downloading it rather than going to a store and buying a DVD that comes in a box.   Software purchased online is often compressed first to make the downloaded file smaller, and the compressed version of the file often is in the .ISO format, where the file extension after the file name and period is .ISO.   After downloading you would use yet another piece of software to take the .ISO file, uncompress it, and then burn a DVD that you could then use to install the software you downloaded.  The advantage of being able to mount an .ISO file directly in Windows 8 means you don't have to create a DVD to install software you have downloaded as a .ISO file. You can "mount it", which then acts like you have created DVD, but it is a virtual DVD rather than a real one. In fact if you look at the Windows file explorer after mounting a .ISO file, it will tell you have a  DVD in the drive.  So to finish answering your question, the only way you would have a .ISO file is if you downloaded some software you wanted to install.  Windows 8 (when running on you computer) doesn't have any .ISO files that it comes with.


  13. dylan says:

    what do i do if i don't have an option to mount when i right click? i am also quite computer illiterate. and so far not a fan of windows 8.

  14. randguth says:

    If you are running Windows 8 on an ARM processor device such as the Microsoft Surface or ASUS Win RT computer, then the option for mounting an .iso file is not supported because the only way to get apps on a Windows 8 RT device is through the store. The .iso mounting option is only available on the Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise editions.

    As for your not being a fan. That is understandable. Windows 8 does a lot of things differently than Windows 7 and there isn't an intuitive path from 7 to 8. You have to be told how the new things work. I suggest checking out this link that contains a comprehensive guide to how to do things on Windows 8:…/beyond-basics

  15. Jimbo says:

    does this work on all versions of Win8?

  16. A different Randy says:

    I have the standard Window 8 64-bit.  I was able to mount and unmount the first ISO image I tried, but now a few days later I tried a different ISO to install software I just purchased.  I could mount the ISO image, but now I cannot unmount it even after a reboot.  Eject is greyed out, even though nothing should be using the drive (and even if it is, I should be in charge of the drive, not some software).   It would be nice if it would tell me why Eject is greyed out, instead of just getting in my way.

  17. A different Randy says:

    Oh good grief.  Something called "Cyberlink" was getting in the way.   I'm not sure it's crapware on my new PC, but I'm thinking probably it is.

  18. David Owens says:

    Hi need a little help regarding iso/udf files and Windows 8. Under Windows 7 I used MagicDisc to mount iso files. DVD iso could then be played directly in WMP.  However in Windows 8 when I mount the image using MagicDisc or Windows 8 directly the audio and video TS files are displayed but Windows 8 will not play then.  Any Thoughts?

  19. dori says:

    For those of you who see no mount option, please see Wayne's comment above:

    Right click > "Choose default program …"

    Choose "Windows Explorer"

    Then, Right Click again and you will see the Mount Option.

  20. Hi Randy,

    I have bought windows 8 cd from the store and installed it on my computer. Now I would like to create a virtual box on my pc. The problem is I don't know where I should search flor ISO files. on the bought CD or on my computer?

  21. Patel Mihir says:

    After founding lot of software doent work….this short trick to mount iso. file work……….

    Kept it up

  22. Philipp Kern says:

    Just because a file is an archive of many other files it does not mean that it is compressed. ISOs are just following a standard that defines how directories and files are laid out on disk. There is no compression involved at all. Which is why ISO are often shipped in archives, unless their creators took great care to compress their content, which is the case with all common Linux distributions and Windows installation disks.

  23. Sesha says:

    Thank you very much you saved me from a lot of trouble

  24. sbd says:

    can't mount from network share, great error message, how lame is that ?

    w/ daemon-tools i do it for years, better i spend my money for it then for Metro

  25. AlexT says:

    Is it just me or does this feature only work with NTFS formatted ISO ? Just tried to mount Office 2013 iso directly downloaded form VL and it will not work (presumably formatted as FAT32…). I understand that MS is a big company and that left hand doesn't know what right, middle and back hand is doing but this is SOOO frustrating 🙁

  26. Robert says:

    Can I mount an ISO, modify a file in it or copy a file to it and dismount?  Or is the ISO mounted read only?  If I can't what tool would you use to. Open an ISO, modify and close?

  27. Manpreet Singh says:

    Do we need any particular software for mounting or opening an

    ISO file?

  28. randguth says:

    This is a feature in Windows 8/8.1. You don't need any additional software.  When a file is mounted, it is essentially in a read-only state as if it were a DVD.  This is a good link for good explanation on what an .iso "archive" or "image" file is and how to make (or modify) one:

  29. Vamsi says:

    Yes it will work for all versions of Win 8

  30. _INTER_ says:

    This windows feature is the biggest bug the Microshit dudes ever produced:

    It so often fails to dismount, even after startup the partition hangs around and you need system tools to remove it. Worse the .iso can not be mounted but the system process is sitting on it forever (after startup too) and the file can not be removed… Trying to find a way now to delete the file. LockHunter and Unlock dont work. Any suggestions are welcome.

    I will just use WinRar to unzip .iso from now on.

  31. tushal says:

    when i clik on mount. It say the the dis is corrupted. wat should i do

  32. MANI says:



  33. Carla says:

    When I first tried to mount the ISO file I got the mount option but also an error message saying "couldn't mount file" "sorry there was a problem mounting this file". Now when I try to mount the mount option isn't available and if I chose Explorer I get the same error message. I am running the latest version of Win8 on a Surface Pro.

  34. Carla says:

    Hi. In spite of the error message the ISO file was, in fact, mounted as a virtual DVD drive. I didn't see the drive as it appeared at the very bottom of my file tree. Sorry for any inconvenience.

  35. DjSilverhaze says:

    For people who can't see the "Mount" option when they right click an .ISO file.

    Right click and select "Open With" then choose "Windows Explorer".

    ….Should solve your problem.

  36. Current ver of Win 8 handles img files directly. says:

    It is no longer required to rename the file to ".iso" before attempting to mount.

    Right click the img file, if mount is not displayed as an option by default, it is possible the file type was reassociated some other time. In this case, select Open with Windows Explorer.

    The file will mount to a virtual drive. Click to open if necessary, and select the appropriate setup executable.

  37. Eric says:


    You went straight for the absolute least likely problem that Dylan, who is admittedly computer illterate, could possibly have — He's most definitely not using Win RT, practically no one is. And you probably confused the hell out of him, too.

    The "Mount" option does not appear if you have configured ISOs to be loaded in any other software, such as WinRAR, which can also read ISOs.  

    You can select "Open With" then select "Windows Explorer", which does the same as the "Mount" option would do if it were there.

     Why it works that way, is completely bizarre.

  38. Dominik says:

    Thanks a lot. It was very useful. I've been stuck for several days tryin to figure out why my Daemon tools cant mount this files and the way you explained was to easy to even think about it.

    Thanks for savin me lots of time 🙂

  39. Nick Low says:

    it doesn't work..  how can i fix this?

  40. Bob says:

    I mounted the ISO and see a drive but when I try to play the game it doesn't work…..wth?

  41. Daniel says:

    Very useful thank you!!! If you don't see the option to "mount" just right click and select open with :  windows explorer

  42. Matt says:

    You can mount iso's in Win 7 if you want, virtual sheep or clone drive or whatever it's called is the best one, you'd find it on Cnet I reckon.

  43. Chuck says:

    Hi, I am having issues with this. I downloaded the ISO of Office2013. I right click and mount. I run setup and then I get an error that some of the .mst or .msi files cannot be found. When I point to the correct directory the install still fails. Help Please!  Thanks, Chuck

  44. Aaron says:

    The mounting feature is great.  Good by to Daemon Tools and the like for many of my needs.  I agree this is a good thing that was overdue.

    @ Randy, most ISO files are images of the disk they were created of which is why they can be read from stand alone readers so there is typically no compression.  They are used more for bundling many files onto one where some downloads would require millions of files to be downloaded which would be a pain and would slow down some downloads and could be a pain to be hash checked etc and for providing a disk image.

    @ Jimbo, I have not tried it on all Windows 8 versions but it does work on Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Pro and it sounds like it should work on all Windows 8 versions except RT which would be found on devices such as tablets rather than PCs and laptops.  For example, Surface Pro should be running versions of Windows that can do this whereas the standard Surface running RT would not.

  45. lotfi says:

    Eric, your tips to use windows explorer is great.It works like a charm!.

  46. Renny says:

    This is an awesome feature! But I'm wondering how many ISO's can I mount?

  47. Prashant Jain says:

    I was struggling to install Window 2008 on virtual box from DVD. I mounted the ISO as you directed and used for Window 2008 installation on virtual box. It works like charm!!!!

    Thanks for useful post.

  48. sunil says:

    if i click on mount ERROR Sorry, there was a problem mounting the file

  49. Lincoln says:

    How can I disable this? I need to burn the Win 7 ISO file to a DVD/USB, win 8 keep auto mounting this without letting me see the .iso!

  50. mrcrowl says:


  51. hemanth sai ram says:

    it is saying that 'COULDN'T MOUNT THE  FILE '……….what is that..can i get any solution for that

  52. Hitesh says:

    Thanks for the article. This has been a rather annoying "feature" in Windows. Nice to MS finally getting this right.

  53. M.F. says:

    I have the option to mount, but after clicking on mount, I get a message: "Sorry, there was a problem mounting the file."  I have no idea why. Can someone help please? 🙂