How to make a self extract and running installer


So currently my users download a zipfile, unzip it and then run setup.exe – I would like them to do this with one click. Using i can make a self-extracting exe, but it doesn't actually run the installer.

From this question

Why does 7zip Ignore my InstallPath when making a SFX installer?

it seems I also need an .sfx file so I copied from the other question and created one with the following contents


and called setup.sfx and add this to archive together with the other files

JVM32 (folder)

but it made no difference, what else do I need to do.

Supplementary question, I also have WinRar, does it effect the end user experience whether I use 7Zip or Winrar ?

Best Solution

I have created step by step instructions on how to do this as I also was very confused about how to get this working.

How to make a self extracting archive that runs your setup.exe with 7zip -sfx switch

Here are the steps.

Step 1 - Setup your installation folder

To make this easy create a folder c:\Install. This is where we will copy all the required files.

Step 2 - 7Zip your installers

  1. Go to the folder that has your .msi and your setup.exe
  2. Select both the .msi and the setup.exe
  3. Right-Click and choose 7Zip --> "Add to Archive"
  4. Name your archive "Installer.7z" (or a name of your choice)
  5. Click Ok
  6. You should now have "Installer.7z".
  7. Copy this .7z file to your c:\Install directory

Step 3 - Get the 7z-Extra sfx extension module

You need to download 7zSD.sfx

  1. Download one of the LZMA packages from here
  2. Extract the package and find 7zSD.sfx in the bin folder.
  3. Copy the file "7zSD.sfx" to c:\Install

Step 4 - Setup your config.txt

I would recommend using NotePad++ to edit this text file as you will need to encode in UTF-8, the following instructions are using notepad++.

  1. Using windows explorer go to c:\Install
  2. right-click and choose "New Text File" and name it config.txt
  3. right-click and choose "Edit with NotePad++
  4. Click the "Encoding Menu" and choose "Encode in UTF-8"
  5. Enter something like this:

    Title="SOFTWARE v1.0.0.0"
    BeginPrompt="Do you want to install SOFTWARE v1.0.0.0?"

Edit this replacing [SOFTWARE v1.0.0.0] with your product name. Notes on the parameters and options for the setup file are here.


You should now have a folder "c:\Install" with the following 3 files:

  1. Installer.7z
  2. 7zSD.sfx
  3. config.txt

Step 5 - Create the archive

These instructions I found on the web but nowhere did it explain any of the 4 steps above.

  1. Open a cmd window, Window + R --> cmd --> press enter
  2. In the command window type the following

    cd \
    cd Install
    copy /b 7zSD.sfx + config.txt + Installer.7z MyInstaller.exe
  3. Look in c:\Install and you will now see you have a MyInstaller.exe

  4. You are finished

Run the installer

Double click on MyInstaller.exe and it will prompt with your message. Click OK and the setup.exe will run.

P.S. Note on Automation

Now that you have this working in your c:\Install directory I would create an "Install.bat" file and put the copy script in it.

copy /b 7zSD.sfx + config.txt + Installer.7z MyInstaller.exe

Now you can just edit and run the Install.bat every time you need to rebuild a new version of you deployment package.

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