Though MacOS and Windows are pretty similar when it comes to performing basic tasks like web browsing, watching Netflix, and writing up documents, there’s some major differences in how each operating system reads, writes, and installs files and applications. While Windows devices use .exe files in order to “execute” an action, Mac OS has its own special file types that allow it to perform all sorts of tasks. For example, a .pkg file can be installed to your MacBook or iMac, while a .dmg file allows you to clone existing drives in order to move information and other content around between machines.
Of course, if someone gives you a .dmg file and you work primarily within Windows, you may be concerned about how to actually open these drive images on your computer. While Mac OS allows you to navigate to the drive within Finder in order to mount the file like a removable drive, Windows may run into some issues—especially since Windows wasn’t designed to read and use .dmg files in the first place.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at how to use .dmg files with Windows so that you’ll be able to, at the very least, view inside the drive to gain and possibly retrieve information. Let’s dive in!
Open a DMG file in Windows
Though there isn’t much you can do with a .dmg file within Windows, there are ways to open the platform within your computer. Despite the differences between the core of Mac OS and Windows 10, .dmg files can be read with the assistance of third-party apps.
To open a .dmg file, we turned to 7-Zip, one of our favorite ways to extract files on Windows. It’s a powerful open-source tool, but it’s far from the only app on the market today. If 7-Zip doesn’t work for you, both DMG Extractor and Apple Disk Image Forensics may be able to help you out. Using 7-Zip, we followed these steps:
- Download and install 7-Zip or an alternative extractor, if you don’t have it already.
- Right click the DMG file in Windows Explorer and select Extract.
- Extract the file somewhere safe. It may take your computer a while to perform this action as the file may be enormous. You’ll also need enough free space on your hard drive.
- Open the folder 7-Zip created to browse the contents.
Although this won’t help you do much with the actual content within the drive, you can use 7-Zip to view the content within the disk image itself. If 7-Zip struggles to extract your file, try right-clicking and using the Open Archive option.
Convert a DMG file into an ISO
If you absolutely need to be able to access the contents of a .dmg file on your Windows computer, you’ll need to convert it into an ISO file. This allows you to mount it as normal using the ISO program of your choice. To do this, you’ll need a conversion tool like AnyToISO, WinArchiver or PowerISO. Most ISO converters aren’t free, or offer both paid and free tiers, so be aware that you may need to use a Lite version of the app or upgrade to a paid version in order to enter your file contents.
- Download and install your converter of choice.
- Right click the DMG file and select ‘Convert to …iso’. The filename will depend on what your DMG file is called.
- Tell the program where to store the ISO and select Start.
- Allow the program to convert the file. It can take as little as 10 minutes or much longer depending on the size of the file and speed of your computer.
- Download and install PowerISO.
- Open it, select Tools and Convert.
- Set the DMG file as the source and set a destination.
- Select OK to begin the process.
Once the process completes, you should have a fully working ISO file that you can mount within Windows. You should be able to see what the file contains and check file sizes and properties. However, you won’t be able to do anything with the contents as they will not work in Windows. Now you have an ISO, you can mount it within a VM and attempt to load a MAC OS virtual machine. This will only work if the DMG was a complete image file and not damaged or missing any components. You will only really find that out when you try to install it. There are better ways to load Mac OS X onto a VM but this one will work if the DMG file is complete.
You won’t often come across DMG files in Windows unless you’re trying to create a hackintosh or Apple virtual machine. However, if you do come across one of these files on your travels as least you now know what to do with it!
Have any other techniques for working with DMG files on Windows? Share them with us below!