Identifying Cached MSI Packages in C:\Windows\Installer Without Opening Them Print E-mail
Written by Darwin Sanoy   
Friday, February 3, 2012 8:14am

From time to time you may find you need to identify which software package a cached MSI is associated with.  Since the names are purposely randomized to prevent name conflicts for per-user installs, it is not easy to tell which software they belong to.  Here is an easy method to see this information for all packages from within Windows Explorer.


You may be trying to clean up orphaned cached files or wondering which software packages have such large cached files when viewing the files in “C:\Windows\Installer”.

A file’s “Summary Information” can be added to Windows Explorer as a column.  Some of Windows Installer’s summary information is stored in non-intuitive names.

There are two attributes that are the most useful – the internal name of the software package and the company name that created the software.

To view these as columns in Windows Explorer, the below steps demonstrated how to turn on the “Subject” for the software name (NOT “Title”) and “Author” for the company name.

You should be aware that the “Title” attribute may be correct for some .MSI files, but “Subject” will be properly populated in many more cases as this is the actual MSI summary information stream attribute that holds the package name.

Once you set these columns on a given machine, it will remember them for the Installer folder.



Step 1 – Use Windows Explorer to open “C:\Windows\Installer”



Step 2 – Right click the row containing the column titles and select “More…”



Step 3 – Find “Subject” (hint: press “s” to be forwarded to the “s” items) - check it and click “OK”.



Step 4 – Observe the subject column with the package names – not all will be perfect, but much better than the “Title” attribute.



Step 5 – Right click the row containing the column titles and select “Authors”



Step 6 – You can now use the package name (“Subject”) and Company name (“Authors”) to help manage the .MSI files in the cache.


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