DLL File Extension – How to Open .DLL Files?

In this guide, you will learn what are DLL files? What are they used for, how to open it in Windows (7/8/10) and how to delete these files.

DLL File Extension

What is a DLL File Extension

DLL (Dynamic Link Library) files contain instructions that can be accessed by Windows programs to perform functions. Multiple programs can use the codes programmed into a single DLL file at the same time.

Some DLL files are added when new programs are installed while others are found in the Windows operating system.

DLL files cannot be run directly by the user, rather they are used by applications to perform certain actions.

What do DLL Files Do?

DLL files contain codes that can be used by executable files to perform certain actions which are not in-built in the program. For instance, consider a DLL file that is used by the Windows for printing or for playing sounds out of the speakers. So, whenever an application wants to perform these functions, it will call upon those codes.

Normally users should not need to open DLL files. You should also be careful in managing DLL files because Windows may not work properly if a DLL file is deleted or corrupted.

Moreover, be careful when downloading DLL files from the internet as they can contain malicious viruses and only download from trusted sources.

How to Open .DLL Files?

List of Programs that can open DLL files

  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Disassembler (Part of Visual Studio but let’s you view DLL files in detail)
  • Hex Editor
  • Resource Hacker

You can also use a decompiler program to see what is inside of a DLL file. If you open a DLL file with notepad, all you see will be some unreadable characters.

For that purpose, a decompiler program is required which decompiles the DLL file and lets you see the source codes inside the DLL files. dotPeek is one such free decompiler program.

Method # 01: Register DLL File using Command Prompt

Step 1: Navigate to the location where the DLL file is located. Right click anywhere on the window while holding Shift.

Step 2: Select Open command window here from the drop-down list to open the command prompt.

Step 3: Type regsvr32 filename.dll and press Enter. Replace filename.dll with the name of the DLL file.

Step 4: Now you can use Visual Studio tool or a decompiler program to open the DLL file and find out which program has created it.

Step 5: You can unregister a DLL file with the following command, regsvr32 /u filename.dll. Replace filename.dll with the DLL name and press Enter.

Method # 02: Open DLL file using Visual Studio Tool

Users can open, view and edit certain parts like messages, icons etc. of a DLL file with Visual Studio.

Step 1: Open the Start Menu and search Visual Studio Developer Command Prompt. Click to run the developer command prompt.

Step 2: In the command prompt window, type in ILDASM.EXE and press Enter.

Step 3: Now, drag the DLL file you want to open and drop it inside the command prompt window.

Step 4: You can also add the DLL file by navigating to File > New and selecting the desired DLL file.

You should be able to see what program has created the DLL file now.

Method # 03: Open DLL File Using Visual Studio Online

If you do not have Visual Studio installed on your computer, you can use Visual Studio Online to open DLL files.

Step 1: Navigate to https://online.visualstudio.com/login and log in to your Microsoft account. Sign up if you do not already have a Microsoft account.

Step 2: Once logged in, upload the DLL file to see the codes that were used to create the DLL file.

How to Delete DLL Files

To delete .dll files on your computer, follow these steps:

Step 1: Boot into Safe Mode, so that no programs prevent you from deleting the DLL file.

Step 2: Navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. Click Restart Now under the Advanced Startup section.

Step 3: Click Troubleshoot when your computer boots and navigate to Advanced Options > Startup Settings and click Restart.

Step 4: Then select Safe Mode to boot into Safe Mode.

Step 5: Once you are booted into Safe Mode, search Folder Options in the Start Menu and click on it.

Step 6: Click on the View tab at the top and select Show hidden files, folders, and drives. Also uncheck the following and click OK.

Step 7: Hide Extensions for known file types

Step 8: Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)

Step 9: Navigate to the location of the DLL file that you want to delete and copy the location from the address bar.

Step 10: Then, open the Start Menu, search cmd and open the command prompt with administrator privileges.

Step 11: Type in cd, press Space and paste the DLL file directory to navigate to the DLL directory in the command prompt. Right click in the command prompt to access the Paste option.

Step 12: After navigating to a directory, you can use the dir command to view a list of all the files in that location.

Step 13: To filter a specific type file, type in dir *.filetype. Replace filetype with the file type you want to filter. In this case, dir *.dll.

Step 14: To delete a DLL file, you have to unregister it first. In the command prompt, type regsvr32 /u filename.dll. Replace filename.dll with the DLL name and press Enter.

Step 15: To delete the file, type in del /f filename.dll. Type the name of the file you want to delete instead of filename.dll.

After deleting the file, revert the changes you made in the Folder Options and restart your computer into normal mode.

Beware, deleting system DLL files may result in your computer not working properly or multiple programs that use this DLL file may not work properly.

Do not delete a DLL file if you do not know what it does, it may cause issues. If some virus has created a DLL file in your computer, you can use the above method to delete it.

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