The EXTRACT command in Windows CMD is used to extract files from cabinet (.cab) files or compressed archives. Its primary function is to retrieve files from these archives and make them accessible. This utility is especially useful in system restore operations, updating drivers, or accessing compressed backups.


The general syntax for the EXTRACT command is as follows:

EXTRACT [/Y] [/A] [/D | /E] [/L dir] cabinet [filename [...]]
  • cabinet : Specifies the name and location of the cabinet file.
  • filename : Specifies the files to extract from the cabinet. If no filename is provided, all files are extracted.


  • /Y: Suppresses prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an existing destination file.
  • /A: Processes all cabinets. Used only with /D and /E.
  • /D: Displays cabinet directory (list of the files in the cabinet but does not extract them).
  • /E: Extracts all files (default action if no option is specified).
  • /L dir: Specifies the directory where files are to be extracted. If not provided, files are extracted to the current directory.


  • /Y: Use this to overwrite files without confirmation, useful in scripts or automated tasks where no user interaction is desired.
  • /A: Aimed for multi-part cabinet files, ensuring continuity in extracting across various linked cabinets.
  • /D: Handy for reviewing contents before extracting them, to verify correct or needed files.
  • /E: When you want every file in the archive without specifying each name. This option simplifies extraction when the entire list is required.
  • /L: Use this flag followed by the target directory path to direct extracted files to a specific place rather than the default current directory.


  1. Extract all files from a cabinet file to the current directory:
    EXTRACT example.cab
  2. Extract a specific file from a cabinet file to a specified directory:
    EXTRACT /L C:\Users\username\Downloads example.cab myfile.txt
  3. View the content of a cabinet file without extracting:
    EXTRACT /D example.cab

Common Issues

  • File Overwrite Warnings: Without /Y, EXTRACT may pause and ask if it is okay to overwrite files. Use /Y in scripts to avoid manual intervention.
  • Missing Cabinet Files: If the cabinet file specified does not exist or is not in the correct path, the command will fail. Ensure the file path is correct.
  • Access Rights: Extraction may fail if the CMD does not have the necessary permissions to write to the target directory.


Combine EXTRACT with other CMD commands for more significant utility:

  • Batch extraction and processing:
    FOR %%f IN (*.cab) DO EXTRACT /E %%f /L C:\extracted_files
  • Using with DIR and FIND to filter and extract specific files:
    EXTRACT example.cab | FIND "data"
  • EXPAND: Another utility to extract files but is used more specifically to decompress Windows files like those with .exe, .dll, usefully paired with Windows Updates and system repairs.

For detailed information and more complex scenarios the official Microsoft documentation or help provided by running EXTRACT /? in the CMD may be referred.