ISO files, sometimes called ISO images, are a type of archive file. Windows didn’t offer any native support for ISOs for years – you had to use third-party tools. Fortunately, Microsoft added support for ISOs starting with Windows 8. Here’s what you need to know about ISOs in Windows 11.
How to mount an ISO image in Windows 11
ISO files were originally designed to be exact copies of optical discs, such as CDs or DVDs. They are still used for that purpose decades after their invention. When you mount an ISO file, your PC will treat the mounted ISO file as if it were a CD, DVD, or BluRay disc that you inserted into a drive.
RELATED: What is an ISO file (and how do I use it)?
There are several ways to mount an ISO using the built-in tools in Windows 11. None of them is better than the other, as they accomplish exactly the same thing. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
You should always exercise a bit of caution when mounting ISO files – they may contain malware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). You’ll probably get a popup warning you that ISOs can harm your computer when you first try to mount one. This is completely normal and does not necessarily mean that it contains malware. This is how it will look like:
Double click the ISO
Note: Double-clicking may not work if you have a third-party application installed that is set as the default program for ISO files.
Open the folder you have your ISOs in, identify the ISO you want, and then double-click it.
The right-click context menu
You can also mount an ISO file via the right-click context menu. Right-click on the ISO file you want to mount, then click “Mount” from the listed options.
The Ribbon in File Explorer
File Explorer also has some controls for manipulating ISO files. The ribbon at the top of File Explorer will usually display various file type-specific controls when you select a file; for ISO, that means there is a “Mount” option and a “Burn” option.
Note: Burn is used when you have a physical disk drive connected to your PC with a blank recordable disk inserted and you want to write an ISO file to a physical disk.
Click on the ISO file, then click “Mount” near the top.
If the File Explorer window is in windowed mode and fairly small, the “Mount” option may be accessible from a drop-down menu.
How to unmount (or eject) an ISO file
Leaving an ISO mounted won’t do any harm to your PC, but there’s usually no reason to keep them mounted either. Once it’s done, open File Explorer and go to “This PC”. Then right-click on the DVD drive and click “Eject”.
Rebooting your computer will also unmount any ISOs you have previously mounted.
Of course, mounting an ISO is only part of the story: you can also create an ISO from whatever disk you happen to have on hand.