Before reading this page, a consideration about Self-Extracting executables.

In 2020 you should avoid creating self-extracting executables for some reasons:

  1. they might be used to spread malware;
  2. because of reason n. 1, ISPs may block .exe files attached to e-mail messages;
  3. executable files in .EXE format work only in Windows: the vast spreading of other operating systems that can't run .exe files directly is making these files useless.

Sometimes you need to send a zip file to someone who hasn't a zip program installed. How can you show him/her the contents of your Zip file? Simply: convert it to EXE. This feature transforms common zip files into Windows Executable files, which don't need any program to be opened because they can extract files by themselves. 

With ZipGenius you can create two different types of Self-Extracting Files (SFX):

  • Common SFX: this kind of SFX provides only basic extraction feature;
  • Self-Installing: this one can extract files and run SETUP.exe. This one can be created only if a setup program has been detected into the archive being converted.

 ZipGenius can use SFX Options files: these files can store the options you choose while creating a new SFX archive. You can store settings at the end of the SFX creation procedure (see below) or you can click Start>Run and type zg -SFX -TEMPLATE to force ZipGenius to create a option file template on your desktop. 

If you have previously stored an SFX Options file (it has .SOF file extension), you can reload those setting just at the beginning of this procedure. 

ARCHIVE TITLE
Tell which is the name of the archive: it will be shown in the caption of SFX window.
In this same page you will be warned if the zip file being processed contains a setup program (setup.exeinstall.exe or install.com detected): you will be allowed to choose between creating a self-installing archive and creating a common SFX file. In the first case you could also choose to force the SFX to extract files to a unique temp folder (you won't be prompted do tell a default extraction path).

DEFAULT EXTRACTION FOLDER
Tells to the SFX file where it must extract files.
You can also force the SFX to read a value from a given Windows Registry key; this feature is really useful for Web page designers and software developers who need to send files that they must be extracted in certain folders, whose path may differ from user to user.
ZipGenius offers some default Registry keys:

  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Desktop
    User's Desktop path
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Favorites
    User's Favorites path
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\My Music
    My Music folder
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\My Pictures
    My Pictures folder
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\My Video
    My Video folder
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal
    My Documents folder
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Start Menu
    Start Menu folder
  • HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Startup
    Startup folder
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Common Desktop
    Common Desktop folder under NT/ Windows 2000 / Windows XP or later
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Common Favorites
    Common Favorites folder
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Common Programs
    Common Programs folder
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal
    Common My Documents folder

Warning: some of these keys may have no effect if your SFX runs under Windows 9x/ME: in fact, these operating systems don't allow advanced multi-user profiles as Windows NT/2000/XP do, so it's suggested to use registry keys for users (those beginnning with HKCU).

You can specify also custom registry keys. 

Example: you want that your SFX reads a folder path stored in the "AppPath" string value shown above: to do that you must copy the highlighted part of key name, to add a "\" and finally to add the value name (AppPath). You will obtain: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\M.DEV SOFTWARE\ZGTOOLS\APPPATH. The name of the value to read must be always put at the end of key name or the SFX will read the DEFAULT value.
You can write the initial part  othe key name both in long or short format: 

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER or HKCU
  • HKEY_USERS or HKU
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or HKLM

These are the only registry keys that contain folder paths. Environment variables are supported (ex.: "%windir%). 

DESTINATION SUBFOLDER
Here you can specify in which subfolder of the destination path the SFX must extract files (even if path must be read from the Registry). You can specify subfolders on multiple sublevels (ex.: "Lib\Vcl\Test\Test 2"). Non existing subfolders will be created.

ICON
You can customize your SFX by choosing an icon to better represent its contents. You must use only .ICO files.

STARTUP MESSAGE
You can make appear a message when someone opens your SFX file. You can choose among thrre kinds of message: standardinformationrequest. If you don't want to show any message, leave blank the text field and click "Next".

AUTORUN OF A FILE
If you want, you can choose which file should be launched when extraction is finished.

OTHER OPTIONS
This is the last step: here you can modify other settings of your SFX.

  • Files list - this option allows you to choose to make the file list visibile, initially invisible or always invisible.
  • Allow user to deactivate autorun... - this options allows user to deactivate the autorun of the file you have selected.
  • If a file already exists... - choose how the SFX should behave if a file being extracted is already placed in the destination folder.
  • Hide overwrite mode selection - check this option to avoid further changes made by final user to the previous option.
  • Allow user to modify the list of files to be extracted - you can allow the final user to decide to extract single files or the whole content of the archive.
  • Show confirmation message  - when extraction will be finished, the final user will see a confirmation message.
  • Expand environment variables - this option replace the exact path associated to environment variables (ex.: %windir% will be replaced by the exact path of Windows folder).
  • Allow user to abort extraction - enables or disables the "Cancel" button in the SFX GUI.
  • Save in an options file - ZipGenius will ask where do you want to save the .SOF options file.

If you want, you can save these settings in an SFX Option File so that you can reuse them in other sessions.

Click "Next " to complete the creation of SFX file.

You can also create SFX files from ARJ and LZH archives. 

SFX archives can be also made through the command line, which relies on an options file: this is a file that ZipGenius can read to set the SFX options. This means that you can store the option file where you want and that you can reuse this file as many time as you need. This is extremely useful if you need to create many SFX files through a .BAT or a .CMD file, using different options for each one. You can find the right syntax for th SFX switch in the Command Line section of this help.

As you can see, each SFX will have the appropriate options and you don't need to remember what options to use for a given zip file. Creating a new option file is quite simple because you have only to type zg -SFX -TEMPLATE in the command line: a new option file template will appear on your Desktop so that you can modify and save it where you want.

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