How To Edit Msi Files – The Orca MSI editor, which is part of the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7, allows you to edit the MSI file, change various settings, and disable features.
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How To Edit Msi Files
Over the years, installing MSI packages has become much easier with vendor packages and installation guides. But many of these guides do not mention how to disable features and settings that would be useful for system administrators, such as turning off automatic updates and removing shortcuts. In this tutorial, I’m going to go through the process of configuring an MSI package with Orca.
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First, download the Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1. You must install the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 as a prerequisite. Run the installer and uncheck everything but Windows Developer Tools on the Installation Options page (this will also install the subcomponents automatically).
After the installation is complete, the Orca installer is located in C:Program FilesMicrosoft SDKsWindowsv7.0Bin. Run the installer and select the Complete option. Orca should now be installed and accessible from both the Start menu and the right-click menu for MSI files.
For this tutorial, I’m going to set up Cisco WebEx Recorder and Player. Right-click on the downloaded MSI package and select the “Convert with Orca” option. This will open the MSI package in Orca for editing. In this tutorial we are going to modify the MSI package to achieve the following:
Before you start editing the MSI file, you need to create a transformation that will be applied during installation. As a best practice, you should never modify the MSI package directly. Instead, create a transform that applies the settings to avoid a faulty installation. Go to the menu bar and select Transform > New Transform.
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“()” will appear next to the MSI package name in the title bar of the window to show that it has created the conversion. When you look at the Tables navigation bar, you will notice that there are several options.
Manages application settings during and after installation. Software developers often publish manuals that list the supported features that can be changed via the command line.
Go to the Tables column and select the Checkbox table. Set the ISCHECKFORPRODUCTUPDATES, LAUNCHPROGRAM and LAUNCHREADME properties to 0. Note that 0 = No and 1 = Yes.
In the Tables column, select the catalog table. You will notice that there are quite a few folders. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about any of this as you make your own. Go to the menu bar and select Tables > Add Row, then add the following to each cell:
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Refers to the name of the file string you added; you will use this later when setting up shortcuts.
Refers to the root directory where your file will be added, which in this case is the %PROGRAMDATA%MicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms folder.
Refers to the actual name of the folder you want to create, which in this case is Cisco WebEx Utilities.
In the Tables column, select the Properties table. Set the following properties to the following values:
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Setting these values blocks all license agreements on first launch, disables the application from checking for updates after installation, and prevents the application from notifying Windows that it needs to restart.
Finally, while in the Tables column, select the shortcut table. Right-click on the two rows that contain DesktopFolder as a folder and select the Drop Row option. This prevents the installer from creating desktop shortcuts.
For the remaining two lines, replace the newfolder1 folder with WebExStartMenu (the folder name we added earlier).
With all settings specified, it’s time to save the conversion file. From the menu bar, go to Transform > Create Transform. Save the transaction as something memorable and short, like WebEx_Custom.mst.
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Now it’s time to install the application using the generated conversion. Open a command prompt as an administrator and navigate to the folder where your MSI and conversions are located. Enter the following command:
After the installation is complete, you should notice that there are no desktop shortcuts and the Start menu shortcuts are created in the Cisco WebEx Utilities folder.
Although there are many MSI packages with different features, shortcuts and folders, the installation process is essentially the same. The advantage of using Orca to create conversions is that it eliminates the need for long batch scripts that do things like remove shortcuts and edit the Windows registry to disable post-installation settings. There are various tools that can help you modify MSI packages, but ORCA is the most popular free tool available to accomplish this, as it can help check and debug errors.
However, it’s no secret that ORCA is a bit difficult to use because you need to make changes to the MSI database.
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But we have a solution for that! Advanced Installer allows you to edit MSIi files in its GUI without making changes in the background.
We’ll show you how to use the Advanced Installer to edit MSI files as an alternative or in addition to the ORCA tool.
But first, let’s see how we can modify the three most common MSI package editing functions with ORCA.
Orca was previously available as standalone software, but now it can only be installed as part of the Microsoft Windows SDK. To get ORCA, follow these steps:
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Now that you’ve installed Orca, you can go to the location where your MSI package is stored, right-click on it, and select Edit with Orca.
Before you start making changes, you should know that it is NOT recommended to directly modify a vendor’s MSI package.
As a best practice, we recommend using a conversion file to save and apply any changes you make to the MSI during installation.
We are all set – now we can proceed to perform the three most common settings on the MSI.
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In this example, we want to change the value of the DISPLAYLANGUAGE property, which controls the display language of the application interface.
For this example, we want to add a registry key that disables the auto-update feature of our application.
Assume that the registry key is CheckForUpdate and the value is False. It should be present in HKLM hive under this path Software[Manufacturer][Product Name]Settings
Go to the FeatureComponent table and add a new row. It’s time to bind the created component to the action.
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Go to the File table and add a new row. It’s time to attach the file to the newly created component. Fill the details accordingly.
Go to the Media table and add a new row. Increase the DiskId and LastSequence as in the previous step. Find the largest previous value in the table and increase it by 1.
If you are familiar with the Advanced Installer tool, I suggest you check the standard support for editing the MSI file using a special window: MSI Quick Edit Mode.
Once the MSI database has been loaded into the Advanced Installer, you’ll notice a left menu bar where you’ll find all the options you need to edit the MSI directly.
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Changes you make to the GUI are automatically reflected in all associated tables from the MSI. This will save you time from manually editing each MSI table and reduce the chance of human error.
If you edit MSI directly using Advanced Installer, Advanced Installer will update MSI during build according to best practices and rules such as “Short names in directory table”, “Component separation for each EXE, DLL and OCX file”. , “Configuring a key path for each component”.
Advanced Installer builds to the ICE certification standard and industry best practices gathered over 15 years of continuous engagement with our customers. If you want to try it for yourself, try our 30-day trial.
When you add some files to the MSI using a conversion file and save it, a CAB file will be created along with the MST. This is NOT a specific implementation of Advanced Installer, but typical behavior of MSI databases.
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However, as you can see, editing your MSI directly through the Advanced Installer GUI saves time and prevents you from completely repackaging your MSI, which is especially important when editing MSI packages quickly.
If you want to see MSI Editor in action, try it out with a 30-day free trial of Advanced Installer. Sometimes we need to change our MSI packages quickly without having to create a new project or go through the whole repackaging process.
To achieve this, we will use the advanced installer MSI Editor, which gives you the ability to open MSI databases and edit them as you see fit.
If you want to see MSI Editor in action, try it out with a 30-day free trial of Advanced Installer.
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Once the MSI database is loaded, go to the left navigation panel and you’ll be done
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