MAKECAB is a command-line utility in Windows that compresses one or more files into a cabinet (.CAB) file. Cabinet files are used to organize installation files typically used in software distribution and system file storage. It is especially useful for developers and system administrators looking to package large files or collections of files into a single compressed archive.


The basic syntax for MAKECAB is as follows:

MAKECAB [options] source [destination]
  • source: The file or files to be compressed.
  • destination: The CAB file to create. If omitted, the original filename is used with a .CAB extension.

Detailed Syntax

MAKECAB [/V[n]] [/D var=value ...] [/L dir] source destination
MAKECAB [/V[n]] [/D var=value ...] /F directive_file [...]
  • /V[n]: Sets the verbose level (1-3).
  • /D: Defines variable with a specified value.
  • /L: Specifies the location to place the output CAB file(s).
  • /F: Specifies the name of the directive file to use.


  • /V[n]: Controls the amount of information shown during the compression process. n can be 1, 2, or 3, with higher numbers showing more details.
  • /D var=value: Sets or overrides a variable value that can be used in directive files.
  • /L dir: Output directory where the CAB file(s) will be created. By default, the current directory is used.
  • /F directive_file: Tells MAKECAB to use a list of directives from a file instead of the command line. This is useful for complex or multiple file operations.


  1. Simple Compression:

    Compress a single file:

    MAKECAB example.txt
  2. Multiple Files:

    Create a CAB file from multiple files listed in a directive file:

    MAKECAB /F files.ddf

    Here, files.ddf contains instructions on which files to compress.

  3. Using Directives:

    Overriding a directive’s value from the command line:

    MAKECAB /D CompressionType=LZX file1.txt

Common Issues

  • File Not Found: Ensure all file paths are correct.
  • Directive Errors: Errors in directive files can halt the process. Validate the syntax of the .ddf file.
  • Disk Space: Running out of disk space while compressing large files can cause failures.


MAKECAB can be used in conjunction with other commands for powerful automation and setup tasks. For example:

@echo off
FOR %%I in (*.txt) DO MAKECAB %%I

This script compresses all .txt files in a directory into separate .cab files.

  • EXPAND: Used to unpack .CAB files.
  • COMPACT: Displays or alters the compression of files on NTFS partitions.

Further Reading:
For more information, visit Microsoft’s official documentation on MAKECAB: Microsoft Docs