How to Open IMG Files in Windows 10: A Comprehensive Guide

IMG files, short for disk image files, allow you to make an exact copy of the contents of a CD, DVD, or other storage media. They come in handy when you need to back up important software discs or access archived data. While Windows 10 natively supports mounting IMG files, those using older Windows versions will need a third-party tool. This guide will walk through the different methods of opening IMG files on both modern and legacy Windows operating systems.

On Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, you can double-click on an IMG file or right-click and select “Mount” to open it. This mounts the IMG file as a virtual drive, displaying its contents in File Explorer under This PC. If you run into issues opening the file this way, try right-clicking on the IMG file, choosing “Open with” and selecting “Windows Explorer.” This fixes any file associations that may be preventing the file from opening properly.

For Windows 7 users, third-party software is required to work with IMG files. Free disk mounting utilities like DAEMON Tools Lite allow you to easily open IMG files by clicking “Quick Mount” after installing the software. Other options like WinZip also enable IMG mounting capabilities. The key is finding a reliable, free tool designed to handle IMG files since native support is lacking on earlier Windows versions.

With the right approach for your Windows version, opening IMG files is quick and seamless. The steps outlined in this guide will enable easy access to the contents of your IMG files. Keep reading to master IMG file handling on Windows!

What are IMG Files?

IMG files, short for disk image files, are used to make an exact copy of the contents of optical discs like CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and other storage media. They allow you to backup the data on your discs as a file on your computer.

IMG files contain a sector-by-sector copy of the source disc, duplicating everything including the file system, boot sector, data, and directory structure. This cloned disc image can then be stored as a file with the .img or .iso extension.

The key benefits of IMG files are:

  • Backup Important Discs – Make copies of your software, game, or data discs in case the original gets lost or corrupted.
  • Archive Data – Store your old CD/DVD data on your hard drive for easy access.
  • Portability – IMG files compress all the disc contents into one file for convenience.
  • Reuse – Burn your IMG files back onto new discs to recreate the original.

Overall, IMG files provide a handy container to store optical disc contents on your computer for backup or archiving needs.

Mounting IMG Files on Windows

To access the contents of an IMG file, you need to mount it. Mounting an IMG file makes your computer treat it like a real disc inserted into a drive. There are a few ways to mount IMG files natively on Windows:

Using Built-in Windows Features

On Windows 10, 8.1, and 8, you can easily mount IMG files without any additional software.

To mount an IMG file:

  1. Double click on the IMG file to prompt Windows to mount it automatically.
  2. Alternatively, right-click on the IMG file and select Mount from the context menu.

This will mount the IMG file as a virtual drive, allowing you to explore the contents just like a real optical disc inserted in your computer. The virtual drive containing the IMG file will appear in File Explorer under This PC.

If you run into issues opening the IMG file using these methods, try fixing any file association problems:

  1. Right-click on the problematic IMG file.
  2. Select Open with > Choose another app.
  3. Check the Always use this app to open .img files box.
  4. Select Windows Explorer as the default app and click OK.

This resets the file association so IMG files correctly open by mounting as virtual drives on your system.

Using Third-Party Tools

On older Windows versions like Windows 7, native mounting capabilities for IMG files are limited. So third-party tools are necessary to get full IMG file handling support.

Some good free software options for mounting IMG files are:

  • 7-Zip – Open source file archiver with IMG support.
  • WinRAR – Powerful file compression/extraction tool.
  • PowerISO – Disc image utility for mounting and managing IMG files.
  • DAEMON Tools Lite – Free disc mounting software with intuitive interface.

To open an IMG file using one of these tools:

  1. Download and install the software.
  2. Right-click on your IMG file and select Open with or Mount with followed by the program’s name.
  3. The contents of the IMG file will now be accessible for extraction or exploration.

These third-party tools fill the IMG file handling gap on earlier Windows releases.

Troubleshooting IMG Files

At times, you may encounter issues opening up IMG files on your Windows computer. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Corrupted File – If the IMG file download got interrupted or the source disc has errors, the file may be corrupted. Try downloading it again or use a file repair tool.
  • Unsupported Format – Certain IMG formats may not open due to lack of software support. Use a different program designed for that file type.
  • File Association Issues – Reset the file associations if IMG files aren’t mounting properly. Right-click > Open with > Choose default program.
  • Insufficient Permissions – You may lack permissions to mount drives on your Windows user account. Contact your system administrator.
  • Virtual Drive Letter Conflict – If the virtual drive letter is already in use, it can prevent mounting. Change the drive letter assigned to the IMG virtual drive.

Following basic troubleshooting should help get your IMG files mounted properly so you can access the contents again.

Mounting IMG Files on Mac

For Mac users, IMG files can be easily mounted by simply double-clicking on them. This will automatically mount the IMG file as a new drive on your system.

To unmount when done, right-click on the virtual drive in Finder and select Eject.

Alternatively, you can use built-in Disk Utility or third-party tools like FUSE for macOS to mount IMG files. This gives you more control over the mount/unmount process.

Burning IMG Files to Discs

After mounting an IMG file, you may want to burn it to a new disc to recreate the original in full. This allows you to recover lost or damaged discs from your archived IMG file backups.

To burn an IMG file to disc on Windows:

  1. Insert a blank disc into your CD/DVD drive.
  2. Locate the IMG file in File Explorer.
  3. Right-click on the IMG file and select Burn disc image.
  4. Select your drive to begin burning the IMG to disc.

You can also use third-party burning software like ImgBurn or CDBurnerXP to write your IMG files to new discs. Just take care to match the disc format (CD/DVD/Blu-ray) to the IMG file.

Converting Between IMG and ISO

IMG and ISO files are closely related disk image formats. While ISO is more widely compatible, IMG offers greater compression.

You may need to convert between the two when working with disc images. Here’s how:

To convert IMG to ISO:

  • Use PowerISO, WinRAR, DAEMON Tools Lite or similar tool with format conversion feature.

To convert ISO to IMG:

  • Mount the ISO.
  • Use disc imaging software like O&O DiskImage or Macrium Reflect to save the mounted ISO as an IMG file.

This enables easy interconversion so you can open disc images in either format.

IMG File Format vs. ISO

IMG and ISO files have some key similarities and differences:


  • Store exact copies of optical discs like CDs and DVDs
  • Allow mounting as virtual drives on Windows and Mac
  • Widely supported by third-party imaging software


Offers compression of disc contentsNo compression feature
Typically used for general data backupsCommonly used for OS and software images
Multiple versions (compressed, uncompressed)Single ISO standard
Smaller file sizeLarger file size
Created using disk imaging processCreated using ISO image creation
Not bootableCan be bootable

In summary, ISO aims for maximum compatibility while IMG offers compression and optimization for everyday file backups.

Uses of IMG Files

Some typical uses of IMG files include:

  • Backing up CD/DVD game discs, software install discs, photo albums, video data, and other removable media.
  • Storing disk images over the network or cloud services. The compressed size makes transfer easier.
  • Archiving old optical discs to save space but still retain the data.
  • Distributing software applications and operating system installers as IMG files instead of physical discs.
  • Testing new OS releases and software by mounting IMG files virtually without burning discs.
  • Converting physical discs to digital ISOs for enhanced convenience and security.
  • Creating master images of optical discs for duplication.
  • Implementing virtual machines using IMG files as simulated CD/DVD drives.

In summary, anywhere you need a portable, reliable copy of optical media – IMG image files prove hugely useful.

Opening IMG Files on Windows – Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to easily open IMG files on your Windows PC:


  • An IMG file you want to open
  • Administrative access (for mounting virtual drives)
  • Windows 7 or later


  1. Check your Windows version – Windows 10/8 have native IMG mounting tools. Older versions need third-party software.
  2. Get an IMG mounting tool – On Windows 7, download a free app like 7-Zip, WinRAR, PowerISO, or DAEMON Tools Lite.
  3. Locate your IMG file in File Explorer and right-click on it.
  4. Select your mounting tool – Choose “Mount”, “Open archive” or equivalent based on the app.
  5. The virtual drive containing your IMG file contents will now appear in File Explorer.
  6. Access the files within the mounted image normally.
  7. Unmount the virtual drive when done via right-click eject.

And you’re done! Follow these easy steps to unlock access to your IMG files on Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an IMG and ISO file?

IMG files offer compression while ISO files do not. ISO aims for maximum compatibility while IMG optimizes for everyday file backups. IMG is used more for general data while ISO is common for OS and software images.

Can I mount an IMG file on Windows 7?

Yes, Windows 7 lacks native IMG mounting capabilities, so you need to use third-party tools like 7-Zip, PowerISO, WinRAR, or DAEMON Tools Lite. These will enable IMG mounting on older Windows versions.

Is mounting the only way to access IMG file contents?

Mounting provides read-only access to explore and open files within an IMG file. To modify or extract the contents, you will need to use an archive tool like 7-Zip to directly open and extract the IMG file.

How do I burn an IMG file to a CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc?

On Windows, insert a blank disc, locate your IMG file in File Explorer, right-click on the IMG, and select “Burn disc image” to burn the contents to disk. You can also use third-party apps like ImgBurn.

Why won’t my IMG file open on Windows 10?

Potential reasons are a corrupted download, unsupported IMG format, file associations not set properly, or lack of permissions. Try troubleshooting steps like re-downloading the file, using different software, adjusting associations, or ensuring you have admin rights.

What is the best free IMG mounting tool for Windows?

Popular free options include 7-Zip for its open source platform, WinRAR for powerful compression, PowerISO for disc utilities, and DAEMON Tools Lite for an intuitive interface. Evaluate which tool best fits your specific needs.

Can I convert an IMG file to ISO format and vice versa?

Yes, you can bi-directionally convert between IMG and ISO formats using utilities like PowerISO, WinRAR, DAEMON Tools Lite, and other imaging software with format conversion abilities.

Are IMG files bootable?

No, IMG files themselves are not bootable, unlike ISO files which support bootable images. To create a bootable IMG file, you would need to first make a bootable ISO and then convert it to IMG format.

Wrapping Up

IMG files provide a versatile way to replicate and archive optical disc data on modern computers. Mounting grants easy access to the backup contents for extraction and modification.

Both Windows and Mac include IMG file support via built-in or third-party tools. So with this guide, you should now be able to:

  • Understand what IMG files are and their key uses
  • Open IMG files on Windows and Mac OS
  • Mount, unmount, burn, and convert IMG files
  • Troubleshoot any issues in accessing IMG contents

So use your newfound knowledge to start making IMG file backups of your important discs. And never again will you be puzzled when stumbling upon this unique disk image format!

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