How to Extract EXE Files on Mac

EXE are self-extracting files that are made for Windows. They are not supported by macOS and there is no native way to open such files. That’s why if you ever come across one, then it can be difficult to extract data out of them.

Even though the process of extracting EXE files on Mac is complicated, it is not impossible. In fact, there are several ways to do so from using software to installing Windows on a virtual machine. 

In this guide, we will walk you through step-by-step on how to extract EXE files on Mac using 4 methods. Let’s get started.

4 Ways to Extract EXE Files on Mac

Here are four ways to extract EXE files on Mac.

1. Using WineBottler

WineBottler is a great third-party open-source app that can run Windows-based programs on macOS. Since EXE files are designed for Windows, that’s why using WineBottler to extract them on Mac is the best and easiest way. To get started, follow these steps:

  • First, head over to the WineBottler’s website from Safari.
  • If you’re running OS X Capitan or higher, click on WineBottler 4.x.x Development it has a green arrow next to it, otherwise click on WineBottler 1.8.6 Stable
  • In the small prompt, click on Download and it will take you to a sponsor page.
  • Wait for 5 seconds and click the Skip Ad button if visible. The download will begin automatically.
  • If WineBottler does not start downloading automatically, click on the “WineBottlerCombo_4.x.x.x-rc4.dmg” link to force start the download and wait for WineBottler to finish downloading.
  • Head over to the destination folder and double-click the WineBottler setup file.
  • Drag and drop the Wine and WineBottler icons into the Applications folder. 
  • Navigate to the EXE file, and right-click on it.
  • Select Open With from the drop-down menu and click on Wine.
  • In the new window, check the Run directly in option.
  • Click on the blue Go button.

That’s it, after following these steps, your EXE file will be loaded if it’s supported by Wine. If it’s not, then move onto the next method.

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2. Using Keka

Keka File Archiver

When it comes to file archiving and extraction, Keka is a great tool as it comes with a number of features that allow you to compress files into various formats. With Keka, you can also protect your files with a password. Similarly, you can use Keka to extract EXE files on Mac. Here’s how:

  • Head over to Keka’s website from Safari.
  • Click on the Download v1.2.xx button if you are running Mac OS X 10.10 or newer. Otherwise, scroll down to the bottom of the site and download one of the older versions.
  • Once it has finished downloading, double-click on the Keka setup file.
  • Drag and drop the Keka icon into the Applications folder.
  • Navigate to the EXE file, and right-click on it.
  • Select Extract using Keka from the drop-down menu.

After this, Keka will automatically create a folder that contains all the contents of the EXE file. If Keka cannot extract your files, it means your file might be an executable and not a self-extracting one. Such EXE files can only be opened in a Windows environment. So, let’s talk about that.

3. Using Boot Camp

You can use Boot Camp to install Windows on your Mac. Once it is installed, you can switch between the two operating systems by just restarting your Mac. By using Windows on your Mac, you can extract your EXE files without any issues for free.

Before you start setting up Boot Camp on you Mac, first go over the system requirements:

  • Your Mac should have a minimum of 64 GB of free space (128 GB is recommended)
  • Your Mac should be running the latest version of macOS.

Other than that, Boot Camp is only supported on Intel-based Macs, so if you have one of the latest M-series (M1, M1 Max, M1 Pro) Macs, then you cannot use this method. The following Intel-based Macs can run Boot Camp:

  • Mac Pro launched in 2013 or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Mini launched in 2012 or later
  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2012 or later
  • iMac introduced in 2012 or later
  • MacBook Air launched in 2012 or later
  • MacBook launched in 2015 or later

Before continuing with this guide, make sure your Mac supports Boot Camp, if it does not, then move on to the next method. You need a Windows ISO file on a USB drive to use Boot Camp, follow these steps to download it:

  • First of all, you need a Windows installation file on a USB. Head over to Microsoft’s website and click Download Now to download the Windows 10 64-bit ISO file.
  • Plug in a USB drive into your Mac and wait for a few seconds for your Mac to recognize it.
  • Open the Finder from your dock and look for the USB drive under the Locations section.
  • Navigate to the folder that contains the Windows 10 ISO file.
  • Drag and drop that file into the USB drive.
  • Wait for the copying to finish, and take out your USB drive.

Once you have the Windows 10 ISO file on a USB, it’s time to set up Boot Camp. Follow along:

  • On the top-right corner of your screen, click on the magnifying glass icon and type “Utilities” and click on the folder to open it.
  • Open the Boot Camp Assistant in the Utilities folder. It has a gray hard drive on its icon.
  • Click on Continue and follow the on-screen instructions. You will be asked to create a partition and insert the USB drive in this process. Make sure the partition is of at least 30 GB.
  • After this your Mac will automatically restart to the Windows installer. Select the BOOTCAMP partition if you are asked where to install Windows. Click on Format after selecting the partition.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to install Windows, your Mac will restart several times during the procedure.
  • Once Windows has finished installing, a “Welcome to the Boot Camp installer” window will open. Follow the on-screen instructions to install Windows support drivers. Your Mac will restart again.
  • While your Mac is restarting, hold the Option key and release it when the Startup Manager window appears.
  • Select the Boot Camp drive and press Return to start your Mac with Windows.
  • Finally, navigate to the EXE file in the File Explore and double-click on it to extract it.

This method is time consuming, but it guarantees that the EXE file will run flawlessly. On top of that, since you’ve installed Windows on your Mac, you can use it to run other Windows designed files as well.

If you’re using the latest M-series Mac, or if your Mac does not support Boot Camp, then move on to the next method.

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 4. Using Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop 17

Parallels Desktop is a virtual machine that can run Windows on your Mac. Fundamentally, it works the same as Boot Camp. However, it is better as it can run on M-series Macs. On top of that, it provides more functionalities like you can switch between the two operating systems without restarting and you can also run both Windows and Mac applications simultaneously.

Parallels Desktop is not a free software, you can only use it as a free trial for 14 days and after that you have to purchase it. The Standard Edition is for $79.99 that gives you 8GB of vRAM and 4 vCPUs. 

Before you start installing Parallels Desktop, make sure you have downloaded an ISO file of Windows 10 and copied it into a USB. After that, follow these steps:

  • Head over to the Parallels Desktop website and download the free trial.
  • Double-click on the downloaded file and follow the on-screen instructions to install Parallels Desktop.
  • Open Parallels Desktop from the Applications folder.
  • Go to File > New to create a virtual machine for Windows 10.
  • In the New Virtual Machine wizard, select Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file and click on Continue.
  • Now Parallels Desktop will search for the Windows 10 ISO file on your Mac. If it doesn’t find it, click on Locate Manually.
  • From here you will have three options: DVD, Image File, or USB Drive. You can select Image File and locate the ISO file on your Mac, or you can insert your USB and select the USB Drive option.
  • Enter the Windows Product key and click Continue.
  • In the next window, select Productivity and click Continue.
  • Enter a name for your virtual machine and select a location. You can leave it to its default setting and change it later as well. Click Continue.
  • Finally, your Mac will start installing Windows 10. Follow the on-screen instructions until it’s finished installing.
  • After that, click on the list of virtual machines on Parallels Desktop to launch Windows.
  • The first time you run Windows, your Mac will install Parallel Tools. It makes sure you can switch between the two operating systems seamlessly. Once it has finished installing, restart Windows.
  • At last, navigate to the EXE file in the File Explore and double-click on it to extract it.
Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq is a digital Evangelist having right commands on writing, also he is a web developer. He has a BS(Computer Science) and now he is Full-Time writer of TechanZone.

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