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How to Read Contents of an ISO File


Recently I downloaded many free live rescue systems on ISO files. After burning ISO files on USB one by one, I found few suitable for me. Burning ISO image on USB to make bootable USB drive and then testing it with another PC, is some process that I wanted to avoid and see the contents of each ISO file before burning it to disk. By looking at the contents of ISO file you can guess what it will offer after burning on a disk. Here is how you can see whats inside of an ISO file.

ISO is image (backup archive or exact replica) of the content on the disc, on which the files are stored in the exact same order (or layout) as on the disc (byte by byte). Think of it as a single file that in fact is a package containing the aggregate data of the files on the CD. So ISO is a single file but a kind of package/container containing files and folders. You can easily read contents of an ISO file without unpacking it by using any popular archive utility. There are many file archive utilities available that are used to create archives containing files.

For example: WinRar or 7Zip. 7Zip is also available for Apple MAC and Linux besides Microsoft Windows. WinRar is also available for Linux and Apple MAC from RARLab.

Download and install any one of archive program from mentioned above and open it. Drag and drop ISO file in that program and it will show you contents of ISO files. You can also extract contents of ISO file by using these programs. To do that select the contents of ISO file from archive program and drag to the destination (e.g. separate folder on desktop) and ISO contents will be extracted.

In case of 7Zip you will have to open it with ‘7Zip File Manager’.

In case of WinRar you can also associate ISO files to open with WinRar from program preferences.

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