Extracting files from the Windows cabinets

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Windows logoWindows cabinets are file archives that end with the extension .cab. They contain essential files needed for the installing Windows and additional software onto the computer at a later date. This document does not cover how to extract files from other compressed files like .zip, and .rar.

Because of the differences in the various versions of Windows, follow only the instructions for your version of Windows to help prevent confusion.


Before extracting any files from the cabinets, ensure that the below information is known.

Location of cabinets The location of where the cabinets are located may vary. Below is a listing of locations to where the cabinets may be located:


*The above listings are assuming that you have installed Windows at C:\Windows and that the CD-ROM drive is D:\.

If you are using a diskette version of Windows 95, determine what cabinet holds the file that needs to be extracted. For example, if the file is win95_04.cab the file will be located on disk 4.

Extraction Tool Windows 98 and Internet Explorer 4.0 use a new algorithm to compress the cabinet and therefore will not be able to use the Extract.exe file included with Windows 95. It is required that the user use the Extract.exe included with the operating system or version of Internet Explorer.

Below is a listing of commonly used or needed extract lines and a short description of each line. For a listing of all of switches and options, see our extract command overview.

extract /d c:\windows\options\cabs\win95_02 - Utilizing the /d switch will list the contents of the win95_02 cabinet.

extract /a /d c:\windows\options\cabs\win95_02.cab mmsystem.dll - Utilizing the /a and /d switch will locate the mmsystem.dll by searching win95_02.cab and beyond.

extract c:\windows\options\cabs\win95_10.cab mmsystem.dll /l c:\windows\system - Knowing what cabinet contains a particular file, you can use this command to extract file(s). The /l switch is used to specify the location to where you want the file to be placed once extracted.

extract /a c:\windows\options\cabs\win95_02.cab mmsystem.dll /l c:\windows\system - Using the /a switch searches cabinets 02 and beyond for mmsystem.dll. Once located, the file would be extracted from the appropriate cabinet and then placed into the c:\window\system directory. The location of the cabinet may vary on your computer.

Windows 98 and Windows ME users

Tip: Users who are using Windows 98 or Windows ME can double-click the cabinet that contains the file that they need and copy and paste that file from that cabinet.

Tip: Users who are using Windows 98 or Windows ME can search the directory that has the cabinet files. In the Find: All Files dialog box, type the name of the file you are looking for in the box 'Containing Text'.

Tip: Users who need to restore from the command line can use the Windows extract command helper tool by typing ext when booting from the Windows 98 or Windows ME startup diskette.

Windows 98 and Windows ME users can use the Windows System File Checker Tool to extract files by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and click the System Information icon.
  2. From the Tools drop-down menu select System File Changer.
  3. Specify the system file that you would like to restore and click Start.

Windows ME reporting extract file error because of protected files.

Receiving the below error when attempting to extract Windows ME files.

Extract File
The specified file is protected and may not be copied or deleted.

To bypass this error follow the steps below:

  1. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and click the System Information icon.
  2. From the Tools drop-down menu select System Configuration Utility.
  3. Click Extract File
  4. In the extract one file from installation dialog box type the name of the file that you want to extract, and click start.
  5. In the Restore from box, type the location of where the cabinets are located.
  6. In the save in box type c:\
  7. Click ok, and then click yes to create a folder for the extracted file.
  8. Drag the new extracted file from the new location to the location where the file needs to be.
  9. Reboot the computer.

Additional information