Extract Tableau Reader MSI from EXE

Tableau Reader is a free desktop application that you can use to open and interact with data visualizations built in Tableau Desktop. Filter, drill down and discover. It is a very popular application which can be found in many enterprises.

However, I’ve seen many cases where IT Pros will struggle to extract the MSI from the EXE installer, or some of them aren’t even aware that there is a hidden MSI. So let’s have a look on how you can achieve this.

First of all, it is important to understand that the Tableau Reader installer is done with WIX toolset. The Wix Toolset is a free open-source tool from Microsoft designed for software developers to create MSI installers. The WIX Toolset also has a Visual Studio plugin, which is used by many devs to easily build their installer.

Now, if we download the Tableau Reader installer (EXE) and open it up with 7-zip, we won’t find the MSI inside of it.

But, WIX Toolset offers an option to extract the MSI from an EXE installer by using the following command:

Dark.exe <path_to_the_exe_installer> -x <output_folder>

So, in order to extract it, let’s do the following steps.

1. Download and install the WIX Toolset from their official website. Install it as default without changing any settings

2. Download Tableau Reader from their official website

3. Open a command window (CMD) as an administrator and navigate to the root of the folder where you installed WiX Toolset (C:\Program Files (x86)\WiX Toolset v3.11\bin)

4. Run the following command:

Dark.exe <path_to_the_Tableau_exe_installer> -x <output_folder>

For example, run the following command:

Dark.exe C:\tableau-setup-std-tableau-10-1.16.1213.1319-x64.exe -x c:\output

The output folder will contain a folder named AttachedContainer that includes the .msi files.

As you can see, in the output folder, the tableau-setup-std-tableau-2020-4.21.0114.0916-x64.msi is present. Of course, other dependent MSIs are present, and it’s up to you to decide how you are going to push them in your infrastructure.

What you must keep in mind is that the extraction command works for all WIX created installers. One other example of installer done with WIX is KeePass.

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