An executable file, usually with the file extension .exe, is one that when opened will carry out an action. In many cases this will be to run an application, but the action may also be to install an application. System administrators may restrict the use of executable files on their systems to reduce the risk of malware causing harm. The administrators may instead prefer installable software to come as a Windows Installer package, in which the key file has the file extension .msi. Using Windows Installer makes it easier for administrators to keep track of which software is on which machine and, if needed, to remove software smoothly. Several independent applications allow you to "convert" an executable file by building it into a Windows Installer package.

MSI Wrapper

Step 1

Download and install the free MSI Wrapper application from the EXEMSI website (link in Resources), then open the application.

Step 2

Click "Next" on the opening screen to start the process. On the next screen, input the location of the executable file you want to put into an MSI package and the location where you want to put the created MSI package. You can either type the location or click the icon with three dots to browse through your file directory. Click "Next" when you are done.

Step 3

Type in an Application ID referring to the application for which you are packaging the executable file. If you aren't sure what to put, click on "Look up." If this is the first time you'll be using an MSI package for this particular application, click on "Create New" to generate an upgrade code that you should use if you later update the application on your system using an MSI package. If you've previously created an MSI package for this application, type in the upgrade code. Click "Next" when you are done.

Step 4

Click "Next" to go through each of the next two screens, which describe your MSI package. Most of the information should be filled in automatically. If any fields are empty and you know the details that should be there, type these details in the field.

Step 5

Leave the following screen, which details parameters for the installation and uninstallation process, empty. Click "Next" to review your settings and then "Build" to create the MSI package.

Advanced Installer

Step 1

Download and install Advanced Installer (link in Resources), then open the application.

Step 2

Select "New," then "Import" and then "MSI from EXE(s)"

Step 3

Type in the name of the application the MSI package will install and your company name, then click "Next."

Step 4

Change the listed (default) name and location for your MSI package if needed, then click "Next."

Step 5

Click on "Add From Disk" and select the EXE file or files that you want to convert into an MSI package, then click "OK."

Step 6

Leave the default settings on the next screen -- which determine how the MSI package will install the application -- unless you want to change anything, then click "Next" and then "Build" to create the MSI package

EXE to MSI Converter

Step 1

Download and install EXE to MSI Converter (link in Resources), then open the application.

Step 2

Click "New MSI Package" to the left and then in the box to the right type the name and version of the product you want to install and your company name.

Step 3

Click "New Install Project" to the left and then use the "File path" box to the right to locate the executable file you want to convert into an MSI package.

Step 4

Click "Install Script" to the left and then the "Record Script" button to the right. You'll then see a window that simulates the on-screen instructions you see when installing the relevant application. Go through this simulated process, selecting any installation options you want your MSI package to automatically use.

Step 5

Click "Uninstall Script" to the left and then the "Record Script" button to the right. You'll then see a window that simulates the on-screen instructions you see when uninstalling the relevant application. Go through this simulated process, selecting any uninstallation options you want your MSI package to automatically use.

Step 6

Select MSI Package to the left of the screen and then click "Build MSI Package" to the right. Change the setting for "Deployment method" if necessary for your system, then click "Build Package."