How To: Open a Cab file

You've found a file on your hard disk, and it's in Cab format. Or perhaps you downloaded a Cab file from the Internet. How do you open a Cab file? What is a .Cab file anyway?

What is a Cab file?

Cab files are compressed archives. The term "Archive" in this context means that the file may contain one or more files, or even folders, much like folders on your hard disk. "Compressed" means that mathematical techniques have been used to reduce the space needed to store the files, so that the size of the archive may be much smaller than the size of the files it contains. There are many different compression techniques in use today. "Cab" is the name given to a compression algorithm originally developed by Microsoft for packaging groups of related files in a space-saving way. It's short for "Cabinet", which quite neatly describes a container for a file or group of files. Cabinet files are mostly used by Microsoft and other software installers, so Cab files usually contain software components.

In short, Cab files are a space-saving way of storing single files or groups of related files.

Files in a Cab archive will decompress to exactly their original state. This is called "lossless compression." The compression methods used with JPG image files or MP3 music files are called "lossy compression" because some of the quality of the original image or sound is lost during the compression process.

Cab files are used because they take up less space to store, and take less time to send or download. They are also a very convenient way to package and send groups of related files. However, you can't run a program directly from a Cab file. The files must be extracted or unzipped from the archive before they can be used.

Opening a Cab file

If you're using Windows XP or Windows Vista, then your operating system has built-in support for opening Cab files. They are described as "Cabinet files." Just double-click on a Cab file and it will open in Explorer, just like a folder. However, if you right-click on items in a cabinet file, you won't see all the same options you'd see for a file in a normal folder. This shows that it is not a real folder.

If you're using Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT or Windows 2000 then you'll need an archive manager application to open Cab files. If you use Windows XP or Windows Vista, you'll still need an archive manager if you want to be able to create Cab file archives.

Open Cab files in Microsoft Windows

ss If you want to open or create Cab files on a PC that runs Windows, recommends BitZipper. It's a very versatile, yet easy to use archive manager. It can open Zip files, Cab files, Rar files and nearly 30 other popular compressed and encoded file formats.

Not only can BitZipper open all of these file types, but it can create archives in most of these formats too. It's also a fast and powerful tool for backing up your files.

BitZipper has a Wizard interface for novice users with no experience of working with compressed files, and a Classic interfacefor more experienced users - shown in the screenshot. BitZipper is a solid and stable application that can handle the largest Cab archives without crashing.

BitZipper runs on Windows 2000 and all later versions, including XP and Vista.

Open Cab files in Apple Mac OS X

Stuffit lets you open Rar files on a MacApple Mac users can use Stuffit to open Cab files. Stuffit is one of the most long established Mac utilities. It gives you a complete set of tools for opening and creating the many and various types of compressed archive that you may come across on the Internet.

StuffIt can open Cab files, Rar files, Zip files, Tar files and many more archive types. It boasts a "Quick Look" feature which saves you time by letting you peek inside archives without opening them.

You can also use StuffIt to create archives in the most popular formats. Use compressed archives to save space on your hard drive and make smaller files to send to your friends by compressing MP3s, PDFs, photos and other files with no loss of quality.

Stuffit requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher.