InstallShield Tips and Techniques

December 1, 2011

Converting a MSI to an InstallShield Basic Project

Filed under: Reference Materials — shieldmaster @ 11:07 pm

Recently I had two separate situations that arose in which I had a MSI and needed to convert each to an InstallShield Project. One was a project that was originally a WISE installation, and the other was a InstallShield MultiPlatform package. In both situations I had access to a MSI Package, and chose to convert it to an InstallShield package.

Apparently the built-in Conversion feature is not as well known as I thought – and it’s been around since v10.5, so it seems to be a good candidate for a BLOG entry, so here it goes!

First, you need to open the InstallShield project and then select OPEN from the File Dropdown menu.

Notice that there are three data entry fields ‘File Name:’; ‘Files of Type:’; and ‘Open as:’ entries. Notice that the ‘Open as:’ entry has two choices, Auto and Wizard.

Choose Wizard and open the MSI Package.

You will receive the next dialog which allows you to choose to open the MSI for Direct Editing or Convert the MSI/MSM to an InstallShield project. Now if you did not realize it, when you open a MSI you can change quite a few items, such as System Search Entries, string values, etc. This has been helpful in many situations, but I don’t recommend it due to a lack of auditing capabilities. IT has been a great solution to validate entries, such as to verify whether files are included in the MSI.

Let’s continue – select the Convert option:

The next dialog screen will be prefilled with generic information – as shown here:

You should name it uniquely and set the disk location for the new project to be stored – as I have done:

Selecting Finish will most likely result in a verification dialog, as shown here:


The InstallShield will complete the conversion and it creates a Basic MSI Project, ready for you to finish dressing up:

Depending on what type of Project you started with will depend on the effort to finish the project. For example a Wise created MSI will end up creating a project with non-standard Dialog names and Custom Actions.

Just start at the top and work thru the project, cleaning up as you go:

The nice aspect is the files are extracted from the Binary table and placed in an sub-directory “Files” under the new ISM Project. But it’s much easier than rebuilding an old project from scratch!


Hope this helps!






  1. I got a question about the property manager and REINSTALLMODE if you got the time to answer.

    I booked marked your blog since it has a lot of nice useful info I constantly keep going over. I do apreciate the helpful how too’s I’ll be sure to check this out here and there when I have trouble.

    When I set RESINTALLMODE in the “Property Manager” it shows in the log to be overwritten back to the default omus value. Why does this happen? I found using PatchWelcome dialog and setting it during the execution there it works.

    MSI (c) (68:9C) [07:26:23:416]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying REINSTALLMODE property. Its current value is ’emus’. Its new value: ‘vomus’.

    Comment by RoadnetInstallGuy — December 16, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    • I have never seen the property modify itself back to original value such as you describe. I have seen some private properties (name is in Upper/Lower case letters) will reset itself as the project leaves the UI Sequence and enters the Execute Sequence, but not Public Properties.

      I would suspect that something is somehow forcing the property back to the original state. Check any InstallScript Custom Actions – or possibly command input parameters


      Comment by shieldmaster — December 23, 2011 @ 1:53 am

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