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Monday, December 19, 2011

Customize SFX Archives for self extracted installers

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Hacking WinRAR SFX for customized installers - INTENDED FOR BEGINNERS


Creating a customized look for your WinRAR SFX archives is a very easy task, but not all people know how to do it. A good example of a customized SFX is Nero. As we all know, Nero uses WinRAR to compress it’s setup files. But the SFX window has a Nero banner on it and the EXE has a custom Nero icon. So if you wan’t to create your custom installer of Nero (Please visit SiMoNsAyS' guide) and you still wan’t to make your installer look like the original, this is the best way to do it. But this is not just about Nero. You can do this if you wan’t to have a custom look on your repacked SFX’s.

This is what I’ve learned from my experience. If you have any suggestions or corrections, please let me know. In that way, you can help me learn from my mistakes, and discover new things. By the way, I would like to thank sixpack for giving me the idea of working with SFX files.

Things needed (ALL FREE/SHAREWARE)
  • Default.SFX (Download at the bottom of this page.)
  • ResHack
  • Nice icon
  • Banner (24bit bitmap, 93x302, and as small as possible)
Optional tools
  • PETITE – to compress the EXE OR UPX which has a better compression (Thanks to RyanVM for introducing UPX)
  • Axialis Icon Workshop – to edit your icons (you can use other softwares if you want)
Part I – Hacking the SFX file

1) Extract the file “Default.SFX from the original WinRAR installer and rename it to WHATEVER.SFX. Or if you have WinRAR installed on your system, you can get that file from your [INSTALLDIR]. Or you can just download the file at the bottom of this page. Just in case you don’t know, this file is actually an EXE with the .SFX extension. Please note that you CANNOT use the Default.SFX of a GUI patched version of WinRAR.

2) Open your SFX file with ResHack. Click “Action  Replace Icon” to replace the stock icon.

3) Do the same thing with the bitmap. Clck “Action  Replace Bitmap” and replace the default bitmap.

4) Save it, and you’re done.

Here are some pictures to help you follow the instructions if you are lost.

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Part II – Compressing the EXE

You have to make your SFX file as small as possible. Because the bigger your SFX file, the bigger SFX archive you will have. But don’t worry. PETITE is the perfect tool that will help us make our SFX file smaller.

1) Run the file PETGUI.EXE and open your SFX file.

2) Uncheck “All non icon/version-info…”, check “Backup”, and set the compression to Level 9.

3) Click “Start”, and you’re done.

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EDIT: UPX'S compression is better. Thanks to RyanVM.
Download UPX here:


UPX -k --best Default.SFX
The "-k and --best" switches are case sensitive.


If you have Axialis Icon Workshop or other icon editor software, you can use it to edit your icon file before using it to replace the default icon of the SFX file. This is another good way to make a small hacked SFX file. We only need the 48x48, 32x32, and 16x16 Windows XP and 256 color icons. You can safely delete all other icon files in you icon to make it smaller.


After creating a hacked SFX file, you can test it by rename it to EXE. Rename your WHATEVER.SFX to WHATEVER.SFX.EXE, to see how nice your icon is, and run it.


Now, to use your customized SFX file, just copy it to your WinRAR’s [INSTALLDIR]. When you make an SFX archive, just select your SFX file in “Advanced  SFX Options  Module”. Or to make it simple, don’t rename the Default.SFX, and copy it over the original Default.SFX in your [INSTALLDIR].

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Good luck, and have fun! B)

PS. I’m not good in graphics (especially Adobe Photoshop), so my banner really sucks. It would be nice if someone can help me make a good one. :lol:

And please, don't ask me how to change the GUI of WinRAR, because I don't know how. Hmm.. Maybe I do.. But I'm not good in graphix! :lol:

Attached File(s)

Attached File  Default.SFX (96K)


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