I downloaded a game and all that I got was an .iso file. My computer doesn’t know
what to do with that. What do I do? How do I install .iso files?
ISO files are becoming more and more common as a
delivery mechanism for assorted types of both software and data.
An ISO file is nothing more than an image of a disc. Typically, it’s a
complete image of either a CD or DVD.
Which gives you at least one clue as to one of the options.
Burn the CD image to CD
The first and most common option is to use a tool like ImgBurn to burn the ISO image to the actual physical media that it represents.
After you burn an ISO to CD or DVD, you can then access the contents of that CD or DVD as you would any other.
To install the ISO, you would either run the Set up program found at the root of the drive, run the “autorun.inf” found at the root of the drive, or in some cases, reboot from the CD or DVD to install a new operating system.
To be honest, burning to CD is probably the most effective way to install an ISO, and it gets you a backup copy of your download at the same time. It’s also the only solution if you need to boot your computer from the media in order to install.
Mounting ISOs as virtual drives
Be careful what you download. Like many sites that provide a free utility, Daemon Tools has a lot of advertising on it and much of it is misleading. The download link is easily lost in the noise:
Also, when you install, be sure to opt-out of any additional, unrelated software that may be offered.
After running Daemon Tools Lite, a small icon will appear in the notification area:
Double-click that to get the Daemon Tools Lite application.
In the application, right-click the drive that appears in the lower pane:
Click the Mount option, which opens a file selection dialog. Select the ISO file that you want to work with and click OK.
Once mounted, Windows may run Auto-Play on the “disc”:
The act of mounting the image as a drive makes Windows believe that a new disc has been inserted and thus it applies the same operations that it would were it any normal removable-media drive.
You can certainly allow any auto-play action to happen, if that’s what you need – in most cases, the result would be the install of the ISO that you’re looking for.
Alternately, you can open the virtual drive, which will have been assigned a new drive letter, in Windows Explorer:
Here you can see the ISO that I selected (an older copy of a System Rescue CD) opens as drive “D:”, a virtual drive created by Daemon Tools to expose the contents of the ISO file. You can use this drive like any CD.
In many cases, you’ll find a setup.exe or other installation program that you could then run directly to install the contents of your ISO.
Naturally, you can unmount the ISO (more or less equivalent to ejecting the CD) and select a different ISO to mount.
There are additional ways to access the contents of an ISO, outlined in What are ISO files and how do I open them?