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Create a self-extracting/self-installing package, used to distribute files and install applications.

To Open

Command Prompt iexpress


iexpress.exe [/n [/q] [/m]] file [/o:overide file,section]


A self-extracting/self-installing package is actually an application, commonly known as an installer or setup program, that is used to install one or more files onto a Windows system and, optionally, to execute a setup script. IExpress is an interactive program that helps you create these packages, making it easy to, among other things, distribute files to other computers (see Figure 4-42).

Figure 4-42. The IExpress Wizard lets you package up a collection of files for easy distribution

Say you wish to put together a collection of documents that can be sent to another user, either via email, or by using a floppy disk or CD. Rather than simply sending the files separately or compressing them into a .zip file, both of which would require additional instructions, not to mention a reasonably knowledgeable and patient recipient, you can make a full-featured, professional-looking installer with IExpress.

When you start IExpress, the IExpress Wizard guides you through the steps to creating a self-extracting package. The first step prompts for a Self Extraction Directive (.sed) file, a file that contains all the options and files to include. If you don't have one, select "Create new Self Extraction Directive file" and click Next.

The next page, "Package purpose," asks what you want the installer to do with the files on the target computer when the package is opened by its recipient. If you select the first option, "Extract files and run an installation command," the files will be copied to a temporary folder and a separate installer program that you provide will be launched. If you don't have a separate installation program, choose "Extract files only" and click Next. The last option, "Create compressed files only," is used by application developers to assist in the distribution of application components and is of little use to most users.

The subsequent steps allow you to specify a package title, type welcome and "finished" messages, and even include a license agreement. When you reach the "Packaged files" page, use the Add button to select one or more files to be included in the package; you can choose as many files as you like, and they can be any format. In fact, IExpress will compress the files so that they take up less space (like .zip files). Then, IExpress will ask you to specify a package name, which is the path and filename of the package (.exe) to be created. IExpress will also optionally save your choices into a Self Extraction Directive (.sed) file, making it easy to recreate this package without having to answer all the above prompts again.

When the process is complete, you'll end up with a new .exe file that can then be run on any Windows system. This package can now be emailed, FTP'd, distributed on a CD, a floppy, or even posted on a web site; the recipient won't need any special tools or elaborate instructions to extract the files from the package.

IExpress also has an automated, noninteractive mode for advanced users who wish to skip the somewhat cumbersome wizard interface and instead, create a package using the following command line parameters:


The full path and filename of a Self Extraction Directive (.sed) file. If you don't have a .sed file, you'll have to use the wizard interface to create one.


Build package now (file must be specified). If you omit /n, IExpress will open in the interactive wizard interface.


Quiet mode (no prompts); used only with /n.


Use minimized windows; used only with /n.



If you've already created a .sed file (say, c:\stuff\thing.sed), and you wish to generate the corresponding package without walking through the wizard or being bothered with any prompts, type the following at a command prompt:

iexpress /n /q c:\stuff\thing.sed

The filename of the resulting package will be as specified in the .sed file.


Self Extraction Directive (.sed) files are just plain text files, similar in format to Configuration Files (.ini), and can be edited with a plain text editor, such as Notepad. The easiest way to get started with .sed files is to use the IExpress Wizard to create one and then edit (if necessary) to suit your needs.

See Also

Cabinet (CAB) Maker

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